Its newborn safety awareness week and this is a subject I feel very strongly about! There are so many photographers out there and the photography world is flooded with newborn photographers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The scary part of this is alot of new photographers don’t realize some of the shots they are seeing are composite shots, meaning two photos are merged in photoshop to make one. Parents don’t know this either and are unknowingly trusting you with this new precious life not realizing you aren’t posing them safely! If you don’t know how to pose a newborn safely please take a class or find out how its done properly! If you can’t afford a workshop you can easily search flikr for newborn posing safety groups.
Newborns don’t always like being messed with when they are sleeping, but there is a big difference between a “leave me alone” cry and a “Ouch! That hurts!” cry. As a newborn photographer and a mother of four I can easily tell the difference in the sound. Some babies don’t like certain poses and your photographer should never be forcing them to do something they don’t want to do. Each baby is unique and fragile and should be treated with care. When doing the head in hands shot I always do this as a composite shot! I’m not saying anything bad about photographers who do it by balancing the baby, but personally it makes me uncomfortable. There have been some photographers say that doing as a composite is cheating, making sure a baby is posed safely is never considered “cheating” to me! It only takes a few more seconds in editing to achieve the same look without worrying about it hurting the baby. Their wrists and arms are fragile and are not meant to be holding their neck up. Would you pick up a newborn and hold them without supporting their neck? I almost never have an assistant with me so I just ask mom or dad to give me a hand for one quick minute and they are always more than willing! Just make sure to explain to them what you are trying to do and what you need from them before you start posing baby so they understand.
Then there are prop shots. Yes shots of babies in buckets and baskets, etc are cute but need to be handled with care. I recently saw a photo of a baby hanging out of a basket and the behind the scenes photo showed no spotter even anywhere near the baby should they fall out. All it takes is one quick jerk and that baby is going to fall. And don’t even get me started on the trend of putting babies in anything glass. You know that is NOT ok! Also hanging shots….please, please, please do not even attempt this if you don’t know what you are doing! Parents, if you are letting a photographer attempt this let me tell you how its properly done. The baby should be placed in sling barely above a beanbag with someone there holding them. It doesn’t take much longer to edit this photo in photoshop and is much safer. I don’t care how strong you think that fabric is it is not worth compromising someones baby!
So if you are a new photographer or just getting started with newborn photography please be sure to handle these precious lives with the upmost of care. These parents are putting their faith in us that we will take care of their new baby! And parents don’t be afraid to speak up! If you feel uncomfortable with something your photographer is doing just tell them.