Fast Food vs Fine Dining. Wait, Isn't This a Photography Blog?

Fast Food vs Fine Dining

When I was starting out as a newborn and maternity photographer, my mentor Ana Brandt taught me that photography is like a dining experience. Sometimes you are in a rush and need to grab a bite quickly, so you go to a fast food restaurant. You don't expect a five star service nor outstanding quality of your meal, but you get your necessity covered, which is eating something without investing too much time on it.

Other times you are celebrating something. There's a special occasion and you plan for a nice dinner. You go to an elegant restaurant, where you'll have waiters giving you great service and a fancy menu created by a chef that studied culinary art and that is a master in his profession.

These two options don't cost the same, but you accept that because they are different. When you go to a fine restaurant, you are paying a lot more. But it is worth it, because the reason of your celebration is worth it. But doing fine dining every night would be tiring for both your palate and your wallet, that's why you save it for special occasions. There are situations where fast food is good enough and there are occasions that deserve fine dining. The same goes with your photography sessions.

Your Newborn is a Celebration

Some times you just need some pictures taken to remember your trip to Europe or your backyard dinner party. A friend with a nice camera or an iPhone and a selfie stick would do (although I'm openly not a fan of those stick things!). But on special occasions, on unrepeatable moments, you want the whole service experience, the fine dining pampering where professionals will make sure you get quality over quantity. And what is more worthy of a celebration than the arrival of your newborn baby? Documenting your pregnancy and his or her arrival will be an investment, yes, but you know it's worth it. You won't do this every day as you would going to a fast food place. This is a fine dining occasion. You are celebrating new life, your family growing, and that asks for the best of the best.

Why is Newborn Photography Expensive

Yes, I know it is expensive. It's like going to a three Michelin star restaurant. But like everything, there's a reason to it, and like everything, you get what you pay for. You don't want anyone with a camera handling your newborn baby. There's a lot to consider regarding newborn physiology and safety. We professionals take courses and invest a good amount of time learning everything we need to know to make sure your baby is safe at all times. Good education costs money.

If you are going to hang these images on your walls, you want them to look stunning. For an image to look beautiful, we need to have an extensive variety of props. These include blankets, wraps, outfits, headbands, bonnets, furs, baskets, wreaths, bowls and the list goes on and on. These props are expensive, and since everything has to be washed between sessions, they get worn down quickly, so we need to restock constantly. And quality products are pricy too. I chose my labs carefully, making sure I'm giving you prints, canvases and photo books that will last for years. There were cheaper options, but then again, this is a fine dining experience.

Photo credit: Mayra Bracamontes

Photo credit: Mayra Bracamontes

Your baby is the boss during the session. This means, we can't tell him or her what to do nor to fall asleep whenever I'm ready to take his or her photo. Babies sleep, eat and poop whenever they need to and want to. Newborn sessions have to last a long time to leave room for these events to happen without messing with the outcome. There's a lot of patience involved. That's why I only book one newborn per day, and by doing so, the number of sessions I can take are very limited. 

Newborn babies are all beautiful, but birth is a tough process and sometimes it leaves some marks on your baby's skin. These have to be edited after the session in professional software like Lightroom or Photoshop. These programs cost a lot of money to own and to learn. It is very easy to over-edit an image. Knowing the sweet spot between smooth skin and doll-like skin takes time and practice.

Owning a business is not cheap. Being a registered business, paying taxes, having insurance and becoming a member in different photographer's associations is not cheap. There are many costs involved in operating a business and it all comes from the costs of sessions. Just as with the analogy my mentor told me, if you want cheap, you go to your hobbyist friend. If you want a good service and a good product, it will cost you more. 

You won't hire a high-end photographer for an everyday occasion. But this is your baby's story. Your path to parenthood. Making sure you get the best quality images and the best experience throughout the process is worth every penny. When searching for a photographer to document this stage of your life, keep this in mind: do you want a fast food or a fine dining experience?

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Marice & Wayne

A few months ago, Marice contacted me to ask me if I could document her pregnancy and the arrival of her little baby boy. She wanted to make sure no memory was spared, so she and her husband, Wayne, decided to book a Bump to Baby Package. I had the pleasure and honor of capturing their path to parenthood, and here's their story.

The Maternity Session

For their maternity session, they chose Hap Magee Dog Park, a cute little park in Danville. Since they wanted to bring their dog Bella along, we needed a dog friendly park and this one was the perfect match. We had a beautiful sunny day. Marice and Wayne danced and had fun while I grabbed my camera and captured their awesome relationship and their excitement for this little boy that was about to join their family. Marice's bump looked perfect in all three gowns! 

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When I showed them their maternity pictures, they were very excited about them. They chose their favorites but decided to wait on ordering products until they had the newborn pictures too. 

The Newborn Session

A few weeks after their maternity session, I got the call that baby Dominic had arrived! We scheduled the session and I headed to their beautiful house in Danville to photograph their handsome little boy. Dominic was so good! Although he didn't sleep much, we managed to take tons of pictures in different sets and backgrounds. I loved his session! Editing his photos was such a pleasure, it made me ask myself: "Really? Is this my job?" I'm so blessed to have the cutest clients in the world!

When Marice and Wayne saw their images, they were very excited with the results! They told me Dominic was growing so fast, he didn't even look like the baby in the pictures anymore! They loved their photos, and since the Bump to Baby packages include print credit, they were thrilled to order some products. Products are the best way to start enjoying your images right away. I can't wait to see how that canvas looks in Dominic's nursery!

The Magic of the Bump to Baby Package

If you're thinking of doing both maternity and newborn pictures, Bump to Baby packages are a great option to consider. This way you'll have a storyteller capturing every part of the story, the story of your little one. By choosing a Bump to Baby package, you'll be saving a little money and getting perks not found in any of the other of my digital packages. I can assure you'll love the experience every step of the way!

Check out my available Bump to Baby packages here!

Is My Baby Too Old for Newborn Pictures?

First things first! 

We photographers always tell our clients that newborn sessions must take place between day 5 and day 14 after birth. But why do we do that? There's a reason for it. When babies are that young, they are still very familiar with the womb environment. This means they are very flexible, which leads to easier to pose babies. Their sleep cycles are also more predictable, thus allowing for better manipulation of the baby during the NREM phase (deep sleep). This all starts to change around the second week of age making having a sleepy baby (and keeping him that way) more of a challenge. If baby is awake, some cute poses you might want are not possible due to safety reasons, and that's why we always suggest that you book for the earlier days of life.

That said, every baby is different and every situation is different. Sometimes older babies have better sessions than younger babies. Sometimes they don't, but you never know for sure how a session will be, really. 

A mom with an older baby

I was on a two week long trip during the holidays when I got an email from Kalpita, telling me that she had delivered her firstborn two weeks prior and that she wanted to book a session. Oh my, I would have loved to, but I was several thousand miles away! By the time I would have returned, he would already be five weeks old. I haven't had a session with a five week old baby before, but even though I encourage to book for the first 14 days, I also believe that older newborns sessions are completely doable, and that every mother should have the opportunity to have pictures of their newborn babies. I felt honored when Kalpita and her husband Nimish said they would wait for me to come back, so we scheduled the session for as soon as I returned to the Bay Area.

Tiny sleepy Kiaan

Baby Kiaan was a small little fellow. At five weeks, he looked like a ten day old newborn. He was such a good baby! At first he was awake for a bit, giving us analytical glances. He eventually got tired and fell asleep. He was such a sweetheart to pose! He was still very flexible and was comfortable in most poses and he didn't wake up from them while posing him.

After a feeding break, he decided he no longer wanted to sleep. We had to skip the props and go straight to family pictures. By the end he was getting a bit fussy, but the pictures came out great and both parents loved them!

So, it is possible!

Now that you know the whys, you know that yes, of course it is! Some poses may change if baby is awake, and other might be skipped altogether, but you can still have a newborn session. At five weeks old, baby Kiaan was a sweetheart to work with. So if for some reason you couldn't book your session right away after birth, if you have an older newborn and are on the edge thinking that you just lost the time window or if you have been told by other photographers that it's too late, don't despair! As an emotion photographer, a moment freezer, I will capture your baby's smallness and delicacy, no matter if he's ten days old or six weeks old. The session might flow a little different. We might encounter more challenges, yes, but aren't challenges what makes us grow?