Safety First! Newborn Photography shot with composite images.

So there is a horror story going round that a newborn fell out of a prop during a newborn photoshoot at a large chain photography studio.  The more I looked in to this, the more blogs and posts on places like netmums I found discussing accidents at photoshoots.  This is something that just shouldnt happen!  The safety of your newborn should always ALWAYS be the photographers top priority.

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I recently joined the Baby and Newborn Photography Association to further show my commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of any newborn baby and indeed any child who passes through my studio as I would with my own.

A newborn shoot is best conducted when the baby is under 14 days old to ensure that they are still very sleepy, and so that they are bendy enough to safely achieve the cute poses.  At this small stage, they can not support their own head, and so their necks and heads need to be fully supported by the accompanying parents.

My newborn shoots last approximately 2 hours but I have spent up to 4 hours on newborn shoots to get it right.  If a pose is not working, I move on and do something else.  Not every baby will sit in a froggy pose, not every baby will settle on their tummy, not every baby will do what you want when you want (parents, are you with me?).

I first photographed a baby around six years ago and every time I do, I have to prioritise safety over a good image.  I see images online of babies hanging in hammocks, from tree branches, stuffed in to jars and I wonder what safety precautions were put in place?  I would like to think that there is an illusion of being balanced, an illusion of hanging procariously – but more often than not, a baby is put in to a pose and left there during the shoot, where it would take one kick of a leg (believe me, the strength of newborns can surprise you sometimes) or a startled movement to cause the baby to roll or fall.  It just isnt worth risking at all!

All of my poses where the babies heads are held up are shot as at least two seperate images, and then stitched together in photoshop.  Babies are top heavy and newborns should never be left to hold their own heads up on their hands unsupported.  You wouldnt do it at home, and I wouldnt do it in the studio.

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It takes time to position a sleeping baby in to a cute folded pose, and when I have done so, I have a parent sat right beside the baby with an arm on top, only removing the hand for me to press the shutter, placing the hand back on the baby.  For more intricate poses where the head is raised, a parent will be supporting the head at all times, and their hand will be removed in photoshop.  It is possible to balance babies without the need for being supported, but why risk a fall?  Newborns need their head and necks supported at all times while they are still so small.

Another issue which also comes up is the temperature of the baby.  Tiny babies are not able to regulate their own body heat, and so an adequately heated room is essential, especially when the babies are most often naked or wearing very little to keep them warm.

Sometimes I say no too!  Parents will come in with images that they have seen and love, but dont understand how they are taken, so I have had to refuse a pose which I didnt deem safe before.  If the baby is not sleepy enough, I will opt for safer poses until they settle down.  Safer poses are still cute!

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I do allow pets to be part of a newborn session, but please remember that your dog is just getting acquainted with this new family member, so perhaps a shoot at the 6 month stage or later would be better, and more fun!  That being said, a well behaved dog lying down beside a newborn in a basket is a safe option.  Keep in mind the previously aforementioned temperature of the room – it will most likely be too hot for your dog to stay in there for any length of time, so having someone bring them and take them away again would be ideal.

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Some tips for booking a photographer to capture images of your newborn.

First things first, ensure that they have taken the time to get insured – it just simply separates the professionals from the inexperienced camera enthusiasts who might not know how to safely handle your baby.  A photographer who is adequately experienced, knowledgeable, with the right equipment may cost a little more, but the results will always be worth it.

If they shoot elaborate posed images, ask to see their before and after or composite images.  If they refuse, run a mile.

Check for reviews!  Who else has used them?

Ask to view the studio beforehand to make sure you are happy with the environment.  If the shoot is being done in your home, ask what they will be bringing (if only to ascertain what amount of space you will need) And again – insurance?

Most importantly, if something doesnt feel right, say no, take a break, suggest the photographer tries something a little more simple or stop the session.

Please take a look through my example images on my website, and contact me with your due date to pencil a date in the diary.  www.craveimages.co.uk

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