Let’s have a little chat. Yes, about safety, newborn safety in particular. I know, I know, you are sitting here thinking, “Again?!” YES!! Again.
I stress to people looking for a newborn photographer to make sure the photographer knows how to safely pose babies. When you look at photos like the one below, the popular “frog pose”, to the untrained eye it appears the baby is holding up her own head on her hands. Well, yes, if balanced perfectly she probably could. Should she? No. Never. Baby can easily squirm or tip over resulting in serious neck injuries or worse. It doesn’t matter if some one is *right there* beside baby. Your reaction time could be just a half a second off and baby could roll right off of the bean bag. Not on my watch!
So, how should we effectively and safely achieve this pose? Its simple, with a composite. A composite is combining two or more photos to create a final image. This is achieved by masking in Photoshop. There are plenty of tutorials out there to teach you how, so I won’t be making a tutorial, but for now there are several on YouTube such as this one.
Here is my before and after of my image above.
Even simple poses such as this may need a composite or just cloning out a hand. For this one I duplicated then flipped the image and masked back mom’s hand.
Now lets talk props. NEVER put baby in glass objects. This is probably one of the scariest things I have seen out there. I’m sure you’re wondering why. If the photographer and parent is taking extra precautions using a spotter, maybe even having hands on the baby and doing a composite or cloning out a hand it shouldn’t be a problem. Right? Wrong. Glass breaks. Sometimes glass breaks very easy even with no apparent cracks or bumps to the glass. There is so much that could go wrong. Take Off Your Mommy Goggles has a great article that explains why putting babies in glass is never a good idea- Glass Babies.
There are so many other options such a cute baskets or buckets that you can safely put baby in for adorable photos.
“It was the parents’ idea.” Ok, stop. Just stop. This is YOUR business on the line. Your reputation as a baby photographer. Do you really want to risk everything for a “cute shot”? I didn’t think so. It is your job to educate parents about newborn photography safety. So when they come to you with a “fantastic idea” do not be afraid to speak up. Educate them on why a certain pose or prop is not a good idea or why you cannot offer it. For example, I do not do the hanging baby poses. Yes, I do know how to safely do this shot, but its a lot of work and there is still a pretty big risk of something happening. I am just not comfortable with it. When I am approached by a client asking for this pose, I explain that I don’t offer it because there is too big of a risk of something happening. I explain that it is a lot of work and we still may not be able to get it and baby must be very sound asleep.
Clients, now I’m going to talk to you for a second. This is your baby, your life, your pride and joy. Choosing a photographer for your baby’s first portraits is extremely important. First, look at their portfolio on their website or Facebook. Do they have many newborn images? Do they have the experience with safely and efficiently posing newborns? I know every photographer must start somewhere, but if they are showing babies in a frog pose they need to know how to do it properly. If they only have one newborn session under their belt they may not know how to properly do this pose. Educate yourself. Know how poses should be done. If you arrive at your session and the photographer wants to put your baby in poses you are not comfortable with, speak up. Tell them no. A good, professional photographer will not do any poses you are uncomfortable with. Also listen. Listen to the photographer if they say they are not comfortable with doing a certain pose or using a prop. Talk with your photographer before you hire him or her about the poses you are interested in. Ask if they know how to do a composite. If posed newborn photos are not your thing. No worry, there is another option. Lifestyle photographers offer non-posed (some do simple posing as well) images of your baby in your home. Do your research, ask questions and most importantly choose the right photographer for your family.