I hope this blog post is read with the understanding that I want to help those of you who are in the newborn photography vendor business. I receive an average of ten emails per week from hopeful vendors wanting to send me their products for free in return for the exposure they’ll gain by my sharing the images on my fan page. The women who are writing these emails are creative, talented individuals and I wish I could accept every single one of them as a new vendor and help them have more sales and (as many are mothers) help them provide for their families by working from home on projects that bring them joy.
So, this blog has been brewing in my brain for a while now. Some of the advice may be hard for you vendors to swallow. Some of it may be offensive to photographers who may choose to style their sessions differently from me. Please keep in mind that my word isn’t the Bible of newborn photography, just my opinion.
Alright, here we go….
1. Start with high quality materials
Just like in the photography world, we have to take out loans/save up for the best equipment, the best studios, the best props and therefore we show a quality of work that draws a clientele that can recognize talent mixed with skill. In the same way, if you are buying yarn from Wal-Mart and beads from Hobby Lobby, your newborn hats and headbands aren’t going to have the quality or uniqueness that comes from vendors who purchase yarn from fiber artists and locally crafted beads or materials from vintage finds. How to tell if you’re yarn is cheap: IT’S SHINY.
Along with high quality materials, the method of creating is super important. Knitting over crocheting is preferred by the majority of photographers. From what I understand, it’s more difficult to knit? Right? So more people crochet. There are (as with all of these tips) exceptions to this rule. High quality fibers with tight/intricate crocheting can be gorgeous. I own some bonnets like these!
Beautiful knit hat made from quality yarn from Tanya’s Tangles:
2. Size of hat or headband
A few years ago, chunky was IN. Big thick chunky beanies were all the rage. Now, the majority of photographers prefer hats that are snug fitting and either have stretch or are thinner knit material that fit well! You can have a pattern and follow it as much as you want, but if you aren’t testing it out on a variety of newborns to ensure it generally will fit a newborn head, and are using images on your shop page showing a baby wearing one of your hats with gaps on the side of baby’s head or strings everywhere, it’s going to deter a photographer from using your products! A perfect fitting newborn hat will be flush against baby’s cheeks like this one pictured below from Adorable Props:
(also notice how tightly knit the high quality yarn is!)
Now, I realize I’m alone on this one, for the most part, but I really detest headbands with big dangly tie-backs. I much prefer headbands with a bit of stretchy elastic at the back…SO MUCH EASIER for photographers to get on a sleeping baby then having to tie some tickly strings around the head of a sleeping/posed baby. Love stretchy headbands like this one from Bitty Beads:
4. DETAILS. We are photographing these props so close up, that attention to detail is so very important. It’s also so important to understand how to work different textures together without making accessories look messy. Vintage or well made delicate lace, tiny dried flowers, and individually crafted fabric flowers help support the organic feelings that come from photographing these tiny fresh babies. Think that if you are going to use non-organic materials like in the image above, keep it SIMPLE. Shiny stones and metals can make an image feel heavy and garish, which is not what you think of with babies. Think DAINTY. When working with organic materials, there is a little wiggle room for size and textures, as seen in this tieback from My Darling Emma:
4. Take note of the photographer you are reaching out to:
I 99% of the time have my babies going to the right side of the frame. It’s partly due to the way my studio is set up, and partly due to preference on my part. So many times I have a hat sent to me that has the embellishment on the side that would be facing down and hidden, and I’ll forget until it’s time to put the hat or headband on, and when I realize it’s on the wrong side, I’m forced to either start over posing wise, or grab a different accessory.
Headband from MilkMoney:
5. Don’t expect images right away.
This is geared towards those of you are are either…
a) just starting out. At this point in the game, you can’t call the shots and the photographer you are hoping to work with may already have a stack of things they’ve either bought or had sent to them that they are needing/wanting to photograph. They may not have a newborn anytime soon, or they may have all boys. Or the parents may not like your accessory. Or the parents may not want the picture posted. Or the accessory might not fit the baby due to the baby having a very small or large head. There are so many reasons why hats/headbands may not be photographed right away.
b) sending a photographer something without asking first. For all of the reasons stated above, but adding that a photographer may not like what you send. It’s hard to hear, but so many vendors don’t pay attention to the photographers they are sending their products to. Instead they create headbands/hats in the color/styles that they prefer without noticing that this photographer has never photographed a mustard yellow piece of fabric ever, or black and purple together, etc.
Headband from Cattura Imagery
6. If a photographer has purchased hats/headbands from you, and you want to use one of their images to post on your page, make sure you ASK first. And if they agree, I strongly suggest sending them a “thank you” goodie as they just essentially PAID you for you to advertise with their image.
One of my favorite colors, yellow! Bonnet from Lil Luxe
7. DON’T COPY.
This is the quickest way to get blacklisted in this industry. There is nothing most photographers hate more than being ripped off themselves, so if I have a vendor I love email me to let me know that another vendor has blatantly copied their exact headband styling, I’ll put that new vendor on my “DO NOT USE” list. This industry is supposed to be full of people who are continually creating unique pieces of art. Whether it’s us photographers or you vendors. This advice goes for both sides: If you are constantly trying to model your look exactly after another, you will never break off as a big name yourself. A creation by one of my favorite very unique vendors, Mo Jackson:
Another unique creation by another favorite vendor – the giant fluffy goodness nest from Pure Knits:
Above all, don’t give up. The majority of well known photographers and vendors didn’t pop up overnight. We’ve been working our tails of for years, honing our crafts and figuring out trends and styles that work for this profession. We ALL start somewhere!