Children are the most precious people in our lives. That’s why there’s always a lot of discussion about safety during newborn photoshoots, and it’s important this discussion is ongoing to raise awareness of how some of the cute shots out there are achieved safely. We’ve blogged about this before, as we feel it’s our duty to periodically bang the drum about this important subject.
We can all appreciate that owning a nice camera is very different from being a professional photographer. This might sound obvious, but it’s true. Technology means that it’s possible now more than ever to capture a few good images at home, and for many, that’s enough to update the family album. A quick tour of social media might mean a fun injection of creativity into how these early images are taken, and there are many Pinterest posts designed to inspire the budding photographer.
But there is a whole unique skillset to newborn photography that’s more than just setting the camera to auto and popping the baby on a blanket. Attempting these newborn shoots with no specific training, or even the basic grasp as to the specific needs of a very young baby, should be avoided at all costs. There are a host of safety considerations professionally trained newborn photographers understand, and we feel it’s important for parents to also be aware it’s an unregulated industry that’s exploded in the last few years.
A quick google search will show there are an abundance of newborn photographers to choose from, so what are the 3 basic things you should you look out for before handing over your precious new bundle?
- Training and experience. It’s essential to ask about your photographers professional training and past experience of working with tiny babies, it’s not enough to simply be a mum themselves. Hopefully they’ll give you a lengthy and informed answer to help you feel assured of their credentials. All newborn photographers have to start somewhere but anyone working within this niche industry should, as a starting point, have sought quality training to gain a solid foundation on which to build their portfolio.
- An understanding of composites. We all know that newborn babies are top heavy and cannot support the weight of their own head. It must at all times be adequately supported and protected from sudden impact or shock. With this in mind, many shots are perfected afterwards during editing to achieve poses where baby appears ‘balanced’, eg, the ‘frog’ pose. Equally, common sense should tell us that we shouldn’t risk curling the baby up in a flimsy piece of cloth and suspending them 6 feet above a hard floor, or balanced over a prop 4 feet above the ground. Professional newborn photographers will tell you instantly that these type of shots are composites to ensure baby is put at no risk. These popular images are made up of two, maybe three separate photographs that have been skilfully blended together in Photoshop to create one final image where an assistant’s hands, supports, props or beanbags have been edited out.
- Professional Insurances. Finally, and for a little extra reassurance, do make sure that your chosen photographer carries an adequate amount of publicliability plus public indemnity cover, both for them and for any staff that may work with them.
So then, what do we bring to the table?
- Our training and experience. Before adding newborn photography to our portfolio in 2014, Debbie had training with one of the UK’s leading newborn photographers, Sarah Wilkes. On top of this, as we prefer a ’belt and braces’ approach, Debbie has a 20 year professional nursing career, paediatric first aid training with St John’s, plus health visitor training. Throughout your newborn shoot, Debbie will be carefully and constantly observing your baby and reading their expressions to ensure they are at ease, comfortable and safe. She will monitor for signs of reflux (and adjust the pose if necessary), for good circulation and unrestricted breathing when positioned or swaddled.
- We understand the use of composites. Andy has a degree in photography and had over 20 years of professional work experience, including 10 years working as a commercial photographer in London. He has been using Photoshop professionally, almost since the dawn of the digital era so has an expert knowledge of when and how to use composite images. Now at this point, you might have thought that we’d smugly present you with loads of real life examples, illustrating exactly how these composite shots are achieved, but we’re not going to! We actually prefer a simpler, more natural approach to our newborn photography, a lighter touch. Thankfully though, if this really is your bag, then there is an abundance of excellent, well-trained and safe professionals out there creating images of this kind.
- Professional Insurances. You can be rest assured that we have full public liability and indemnity insurance. This is our livelihood, a family business that we rely on as our only source of income, we take it very seriously!
Please note that this isn’t a training blog so we haven’t listed every single consideration that goes into newborn safety. Details such as studio hygiene, environment, temperature, shoot duration, the integrity of equipment suppliers and even the amount of time spent positioning your baby are all taken into account in the bigger picture.
In summary, professional newborn photography is a wonderful opportunity to uniquely celebrate the safe arrival of a precious new family member. It is an industry that has exploded in recent years and there are many amazingly talented photographers out there to match every personal taste and budget. However, it is a niche within the industry that requires considerable expert knowledge specific to the needs of a newborn baby only a few days old. It’s wise to do your research folks!