Baby safety, child proofing and infant care are topics that parents research when expecting. Learning the safety ratings of baby gear, how to install a car seat, or whether the items they’ve received as gifts are listed on the recall list tend to be of great importance. Something that parents don’t think to research though is newborn safety at a photo session. Most parents assume that a professional photographer is a professional for a reason, knows what they’re doing and trusts them to be safe with their child during photos. Want to know a secret? There is no specific safety licensing requirement for newborn photographers. Anyone who picks up a camera, starts a Facebook page and calls themself a “Professional Newborn Photographer” can legally do so. Because of this, parents need to educate themselves a little on the photography process, and be prepared to ask the right questions when hiring a Newborn Photographer.
First, has your newborn photographer taken classes on safe posing practices & Photoshop composites? When you see a portfolio filled with those sweet babies posed on beds with flower headbands, or propped up in a bucket full of soft fluff, feel free to ask how the image was taken. Did the photographer have an assistant with hands on the baby? Did they have a spotter sitting next to the baby that was then cropped or photoshopped out of? Did they create a digital composite shot of 2 separate images? Be concerned if they respond with anything along the lines of: “New babies don’t move,” “I was right there,” or “Baby was deep asleep.” Because, babies do move, and can even involuntarily roll over at only a few days old. Being feet away does not mean that you’d be fast enough to catch a falling baby, and even sleeping babies can jolt awake suddenly and create danger for themselves.
Next, and yes, I’m going to be a little controversial here, is your photographer vaccinated? This is something you can ask them. Many photographers (including me) follow the same guidelines that the health care & education industries follow. This includes keeping up to date on Tdap, MMR and Hep B clearance, as well as the flu vaccine.
Additionally, is your photographer properly insured and registered to do business? Taking the extra step to insure their equipment and liability shows a responsibility level and commitment to the safety of those they work with and for. Knowing that your photographer puts your best interests first and is willing to invest financially in those interests allows you to put your trust in them.
Your child’s safety is paramount in your life, and should be taken just a seriously by a professional you hire to photograph them. Here are some misleading photos and the “Magic” used to create them.
This is a common pose, with baby tucked into a basket or bucket, sleeping sweetly. What doesn’t show in the photo is that I have a spotter sitting just out of camera frame (and cropped from some images) with their hand on baby in between photos to keep her settled and to be within 2 ft if she should startle or move.
Images like this make the rounds on Pinterest, along with the “froggy” pose (where baby’s feet are up near their face). The baby isn’t left to hold herself up, its always done with help from a hand. In some cases, multiple photos are used to build a single final image in Photoshop.
One of my favorite requests is when parents want to include the family pets in a session. I’m as in love with other people’s furbabies as much as I love my own. But… to include them means that we do it safely. Baby is never left alone with a pet, laid on top of them or next to them in case they should move, roll or otherwise injure the baby. For this shot, we called the dogs into the bedroom while mom held baby, dad offered treats, and I photographed the pups. Then, we ushered them out, laid baby down (with both parents within arm’s reach just out of frame) and photographed baby. Then, I combined the images in Photoshop using a composite technique.
And finally, there used to be a trend of babies hanging in tulle sacks or hammocks, suspended from the ground. Many amateurs attempted to do these dangerous poses in real life, hanging babies unsafely. Not only do these poses risk baby falling, but there is also a serious possibility of obstructing a baby’s airway by putting them in a “chin to chest” position. The proper way to accomplish this look is by creating a digital composite, combining baby and the background. To achieve believability, a photographer has to pay close attention to lighting and shadowing. And if they aren’t skilled in Photoshop, its not uncommon for a photographer to send the images out to a professional for retouching.
If you’re on the search for a newborn photographer, I’d love to chat with you (and answer all of the above questions plus more!). Use the “Contact” tab to get in touch and we’ll have cupcakes or coffee! <3