SAFETY FIRST IN NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY
Newborn Photography done in the wrong hands can be very dangerous. I am not writing this to bitch about other photographers. The majority of newborn photographers like myself take newborn photography very seriously. We all started at the beginning inexperienced in handling newborns so I do not feel it is fair to bitch about inexperienced newborn photographers to make myself sound better like some other photographers do. I have wrote this so that you can understand what "I" do to try and keep your baby safe.
Here in my Cotswolds Newborn Photography Studio Newborn safety is the most important thing to me. When you see an image like the one above of a newborn baby hanging in a dream catcher you may think "OMG what the hell are they doing!" It is in fact a composite of images. The baby was never left hanging from a height or unattended. The dream catcher is on a stool with cushions underneath. The mum is to the left with her hand on the baby at all times until I take the shot and the dad is to the right. I then take out the stool, cushions and mum and dad in photoshop and add the rope and branch.
Newborn babies are never left unattended in my studio and there is always a mum or dad right next to them. Some photographers say that mum and dad can rest and sleep whilst they take the photo but I like to have a mum or dad right next to the baby at all times. Babies can startle at sudden noises. For instance if someone drops something in the studio the baby could startle and move. It is essential that someone has their eyes on them at all times.
I do not force a baby into a pose if they are not feeling it then we move on to another pose. There are enough ways to pose a baby there is no need to force them into a position they are uncomfortable in. Some babies like going on there front some hate it. I work with your baby into a pose he/she is comfortable in.
I take time in my studio and do not rush to baby. A baby will not do anything he or she does not want to do. This is why I allow for the whole day for each baby to ensure we work at a pace your baby is comfortable with allowing as much time as you need for feeds and comfort.
You may also see in some of my images the babies head is held straight. A newborn baby can not hold its head straight so again it is a composite of two images. One with the parent holding the head from above and the other the parent holding the head from below. It is actually not one of my favourite poses due to it not being natural but some people like it as it shows the babies face more.
When shooting above the baby I always have the camera snap tied around me. I also have a safety ladder (a ladder with a platform and bar across the front) to get the angle from right above without risk of falling on the baby. Or I use a wide angle lens.
All buckets and props are weighed down with weights. Babies are top heavy and without weights there could be risk of them toppling over.
The first thing you will notice when you walk in my studio is that it is hot. I mean really hot! 25-27 degrees. Newborn babies tend to hate being nude and it has to remain this hot for the babies to remain comfortable with very little on. At the same time we need to be careful of over heating. For this reason if we are doing the potato sack pose I do this one at the beginning before the studio has got very warm as the baby will be warm enough all wrapped up.
Signs of a baby over heating are a sweaty neckline, mottled skin redness in the face and irritability. Don't panic though as a baby is not going to over heat with no clothes on and in 25 degrees. You may though so I would advice to bring light clothing for the session.
Sibling poses with very young siblings can be done using a composite. Toddlers are very unpredictable so some sibling poses would be unsafe to do unless a composite. For instance the newborn in a pram with older sibling holding it. If this was a two year old sibling then we would take one photos of the two year old holding the pram and one photo with the newborn in the pram and photoshop them together.
I am friendly and chatty but when I am concentrating on taking your babies photo I don't talk much. This is because I am thinking all the time, what is the babies skin colour, how is their breathing, is the mum or dad fully concentrating spotting them, whats the room temperature. I do not like to take my eye or concentration away from your baby. In between when they are feeding there is of course time to talk.
Bright studio flashes are not good for newborn babies. For this reason I use the lowest setting on my flash lights and use additional diffusers to lower the light. This has the added advantage of using a larger aperture and getting that lovely shallow depth of field you see.
I carry out risk assessments in my studio. There are french doors from the studio straight into the garden incase of a fire and a fire extinguisher easily accessible.
When posing the babies in different positions it is important to constantly monitor the babies circulation. Should the babies skin change colour it is important to move the baby into a new position. I never like to leave the baby in any pose longer then is needed.
I use a lot of mohair and natural wool in the studio. It is a fantastic texture against their skin. Because it is a fluffy hairy material we also need to be careful that any hairs do not get wrapped around the babies fingers or toes or get in their mouths.
I am fully insured and full member of Banpas which specialises in newborn photography safety so you can be assured your baby is in safe hands. I am also CRB checked and hold an up to date Paediatric First Aid Certificate.
Newborn Photography is an unregulated profession and there are no official qualifications anyone needs to have to practice it. All as we can do is do as much research into newborn photography safety and as much online tutorials to ensure that your babies are safe.
Should there be anything that you are comfortable with during your session please say straight away and we can do something different. You also need to be aware that I do need to handle your baby when wrapping and posing them. If you are comfortable with someone else handling your baby then a newborn photoshoot is probably not for you. Also If you are a very nervous new mother then the standard bean bags poses may be more suited then putting your baby into the bucket pose and on the bed and in the dream catcher.
I hope I have covered any questions you have regarding Newborn Photography Safety and if there is anything further you want to know please ask.
If you are a photographer reading this please remember if you see another newborn photographer doing something that is unsafe blogging about it and bitching about them will not keep future babies safe. Contact them and explain why what they are doing is dangerous and give them advise. The more we work together as newborn photographers in helping and guiding each other the safer the newborn photography industry will be a a whole. If you are starting out as a newborn photographer and concerned about any safety elements I am always happy to give advise for free. Please just email and call me with your concerns and I am happy to help.