Safety Should Be The Number One Priority

Newborns are precious, beautiful and most importantly fragile. As a mother myself I understand there is absolutely nothing in this world we hold as close to our hearts as our babies. The first two weeks of your little ones life are a magical and fleeting time that you will always want to remember. A newborn photography session is a great choice and an investment you are not likely to regret. When choosing your newborn photographer safety should be at the forefront of your mind. You may believe that because someone markets themselves as a newborn photographer they must know what their doing. Unfortunately this just isn't true. There are currently zero regulations in place for newborn photographers and anyone can claim expertise in this field. This post is intended to help you choose a professional photographer that you can trust with your sweet new bundle.

How To Choose a Safe Photographer

When you find a photographer your interested in booking it's important to verify they are trained in the safe posing of newborns. Certifications simply aren't enough. There are so many certifications out there and many do not require any sort of formal training to obtain them, instead you just pay a fee for the accreditation. You can determine the expertise of your photographer by asking the right questions.

Have you received any safe newborn posing training? If so who did you receive the training from?

You want your photographer to answer yes to this question and provide you with the name or names of the teachers they've trained under. You can then research the names they provide you with and verify that these are actual instructors. I have children of my own or experience in other fields are not acceptable answers in this scenario. Ensure they have training specific to the posing of newborns.

How long have you been working with newborns, approximately how many newborns have you photographed? A variety of answers to this question are acceptable but it will give you a basic understanding of the photographers level of experience. Someone could have the necessary training but may have only been in business a short time. The importance of this question is a matter of your personal preference. If you feel more comfortable working with someone who has a few years or more under their belt this will give you the information necessary to make that decision.

Will you composite images of my newborn that would otherwise be unsafe?

A newborn photographers ability to composite images of newborns can be of the utmost importance. This only applies if the photo would require baby to be put in an unsafe prop or position. Such as a baby in hanging wreath or appearing to hold their own head up. Its completely possible to complete a session without the need for composite images. This of course depends on the images you want of your little one. If you want an image that involves your baby being elevated off the ground or appearing to support their head then your photographer must be able to composite. Research any poses your unsure about to see if they need to be composite images. If your photographer is unable to composite but still offers poses that should be composited I would definitely be weary.

Aside from asking the important questions you should have a look at their portfolio. An established photographer will have a variety of images online for you to view. This is a great way to see if they are experienced and a good fit for you. Do they have images of babies in their portfolio that appear to be unsafe after they've confirmed they do not composite? Do they have a good variety of images showing they have experience?

Read their reviews. The majority of their reviews should give you a feel for what to expect from them. Every now and then some rouge critic we've never even worked with will leave us a terrible review for absolutely no reason. However the majority of actual solid reviews should paint an accurate picture.

Is an assistant necessary?

When I first began my newborn posing journey I read many articles pertaining to safety online. I found that several of the articles stated assistants were necessary. Even going as far as to exclaim that you should never hire a photographer without an assistant. I will have to highly disagree on this particular issue. I do not use an assistant during my sessions. The exception to this would be for multiples. If I were posing numerous babies I would certainly need an an extra set of hands without a doubt. For one baby however I do not find it necessary. This may be due to the particular poses I do. I do not photograph babies in the "froggy pose", the pose where they appear to be supporting their own heads. If I were attempting this pose I may find an assistant to be extremely helpful. If I am ever in need of an extra set of hands to spot baby I will ask mom or dad to participate. My studio is small and everything I need is within arms reach in my rolling cart. I allow mom or dad to stay in close proximity to baby at all times. I also use a 50mm lens in the studio which allows me to always be within arms reach of the baby. Babies are never left unattended in props or on the posing bag. I've found that many professional newborn photographers do not use assistants but some do. Conclusion, an assistant is not a must but could be a plus. If your newborn photographer does not use an assistant you should be prepared for the chance that they may ask you to spot baby in some props such as buckets.

Composite Image

Why Should Your Photographer Have Training?

Posed newborn photography does not come without risks. The risks come into play when photographers do not have the proper safe posing training. Babies could be subject to injury from incorrect posing. Newborns are both flexible and resilient but fragile nonetheless. Not long ago in an online photographers group I stumbled upon an image of a newborn in the froggy pose, fully supporting their own head. The problem with this image is it had no editing done to it whatsoever. When I asked about the issue the photographer stated "it was only for a second, she was fine". This is far from fine and is actually quite alarming. Newborns cannot safely support their own heads, they are top heavy with their heads accounting for a high percentage of their body weight. I've saw the footage of unsupported froggy's and it's horrifying. The photographer grabs a quick shot before the baby topples over. The strain that this can put on the newborns joints is extreme.

The risk for asphyxiation is also very real when little ones aren't supported in these poses. Newborns are quite flexible but this isn't true for every single newborn. Some babies will settle into every pose with ease while others just cannot comfortably bend that way. The taco pose is a great example of this, where baby's top half is sort of folded over onto their bottom half. Some babies feel quite natural in this pose while others just don't have the flexibility for it. A well trained photographer will know when to give up on a certain pose as opposed to pushing baby past their limits. Well trained newborn photographers will never put your little one in harms way. When you choose a properly trained photographer your guaranteeing the safety of your little one. The first question parents typically ask me is, how much do you charge? The first question should be, do you have the proper training to safely pose newborns? Proper training comes with a hefty price tag, so a photographer charging $100 for newborn sessions should set off alarm bells. No one can afford to pay for proper training and be profitable at that rate. Quality over quantity definitely applies here. If you have to cut corners to be able to budget for a newborn session safety should not be one of those corners. Settling for a smaller image package with a well trained professional as opposed to more images with someone who isn't trained is a much better trade off. I've found that many photographers including myself offer payment installment options as well. So that's definitely something worth asking about.


Great Resources

My hope for this post is that at least one parent searching for a newborn photographer will stumble upon this and rethink the questions they plan to ask. Perhaps it will fall into the hands of a budding newborn photographer and make them rethink what they thought they knew about posing safety. If your a budding photographer yourself there are some great resources out there for you to utilize as you embark on your journey. Australian photographer Kelly Brown is a leading instructor in the industry both for in person and online training. You can find most of her online courses on newbornposing.com, she even offers a free safety tips class, Kelly's classes are in depth and a budget friendly option. Ana Brandt is leading American photographer who offers a plethora of online resources that can be found on bellybabyschool.com. The Milky Way is a phenomenal resource, every year they offer an online retreat featuring some of the best newborn photographers in the industry. Information about their retreat or various other workshops and courses can be found at themilkyway.ca. I'll throw one last resource in there for good measure. Hello Little is primarily a prop company ran by two excellent photographers however they are dipping their toes into education as well. They run a private Facebook group that is loaded with excellent info and education. You can find information on the education group at hellolittleprops.com. I'll mention YouTube but with a word of caution as well. There are some great educational videos on YouTube but you have to dig to find the good stuff. Not everyone on YouTube is qualified to be offering education but many are. Some of my favorite YouTube channels are Fenna & Photography, Momtog Educate, also The Swaddle Pro and The Perfect Studio channel.

Safety is Paramount

I've covered some of the reasons why safety is paramount to newborn photography but not all. Most of all I just encourage you to do your homework on your photographer before booking. Photographers will typically be more than happy to answer questions about safety for you as we hold the safety of your little ones in high regard. A photographers work to keep your little one safe will go far beyond composites and spotting. They will keep the room nice and warm since your baby cannot yet regulate their own body temperature. They will pay close attention to how your baby reacts to each and every pose, scanning for signs of discomfort. They know to keep an eye out for purple hands and feet, a common sign there is a problem with baby's circulation. They will sanitize their hands often and in these trying times will even wear a mask. They will weigh down buckets before placing your baby inside and keep your baby's skin away from anything that could bring them discomfort. They will sanitize each and every prop your baby comes into contact with just in case.

I could probably go on and on but you get the point. A good photographer is going to care for your little one as if they were their own. I have to reiterate that these photographers are not charging $100 or handing out 50 digitals. They have invested time, hard work, and money into making sure they are completely qualified for the job from posing to editing. They have invested in good solid props to keep your baby comfortable and make your images beautiful. I wont even get into the equipment, taxes, insurance and subscriptions they have to maintain. That's a different post for a different day. Good photography is an investment that will last a lifetime and beyond. Remember that when you post looking for a photographer who doesn't "charge an arm and a leg" your going to attract low budget photographers who may not posses the skills necessary to keep your sweet new bundle safe. Not everyone values photography but I believe everyone values the safety of their babies.

Spread the word

Share what you've learned here with friends or family who are expecting or might be in the future. Knowledge is power, the more people who understand the incredible importance of newborn posing safety the better. I don't believe anyone be it parents or budding photographers would purposely put a baby in harms way. I feel its a lack of education and understanding leading to this problem. Until some form of regulations come into play in the industry all we can do is spread the word. Sharing this blog post or other helpful resources will hopefully make a dent in the problem. Parents and new photographers cant fix a problem they don't realize exist. Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I hope you've found it helpful. Good luck on your infinite journey into the world of newborn photography,