The answer to this question is yes and no! I appreciate that this answer is not really halpeful to you is it? Every parent should know these facts before considering a newborn photography session!
Why is newborn photography dangerous?
Newborn photos – when done right and by a trained photographer, can be the most amazing magical photos in the world. But did you know that many people are putting babies at risk when trying to achieve the perfect shot and many newborn photographers are not trained?
My name is Debbie, and I am a saftey trained newborn specialist photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire (previously Birmingham). I am fully trained and insured, and have previously been awarded International Runner Up Newborn and Baby Photographer of the Year, as well as Portrait Photographer of the Year and All Round Photographer of the Year as well as holding my Craftsman and Master Craftsman status which I hope gives you some understanding that I know what I am doing when it comes to not only being a photographer but also posing your precious baby.
You may or may not know this, but newborn photography is NOT A REGULATED industry. This means that anyone can buy a camera and not only call themselves a photographer but also a newborn photography, and before you know if they are putting babies in buckets and attempting very complex posing and hoping or the best. THIS IS NOT OKAY! The thought of handing your new baby, as little as a few days old, over to an untrained person scares me. As a new parent, you want to do everything you can do ensure your babies safety, so here is what you need to consider.
Remember, you get what you pay for— and experience will up your photographer’s price. The number one reason that new photographers charge low prices is because either they’re not educated in what they should be charging or they’re not confident in their work, and you want to hire someone who is confident in their work, period. You do want to hire a photographer with experience who is priced professionally. Concerned that will mean breaking your budget? Ask for a payment plan, and book as early as possible, which can give you several months to make payments to your photographer. You might even be able to register for a session as a baby shower gift.
Price of Safety – and at what cost?
This is the first question I normally get asked. I get a notification from social media and it starts with “I love your photos, how much do you charge for a newborn session”. Whilst it is great that clients love my work, the first question to any newborn photographer is “Are you trained?” and “Are you an experienced newborn photographer?”
If you have never hired a newborn photographer before, then baby safety is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, as you’d assume that a newborn photographer is safe, right? Well actually this isnt the case, and I will explain why…
Not only have I heard horror stories in the past of photographers getting babies into certain (such as this one known as the froggy pose) and letting go of baby to take the shot, is so unbeleivable dangerous. Certain poses can cause harm to your newborn baby if not done correctly. Some poses need to be done as a composite. By this, I mean that the image is taken twice, one where the baby is supported under the head, and one where the baby is supported at the top of the head, and then edited together. This is the only way this image can be acheived safely and should NOT be attempted by anyone that is not trained to do it safely.
Losts of images are not always as they seem. A lot of my work will have my hand or a parents hand in supporting baby that I later remove when editing.
A trained photographer will usually have just one session a day. This is for a number of reasons.
A photographer needs to make sure there is plenty of time in the session in case the baby doesn’t want to pose and needs more time to accommodate. I allow for 2-3 hours for a newborn session.
The photographer should not rush the process at any time. We all want the great pictures at the end, but the baby’s health and comfort is the priority.
Babies let you know when they have had enough. Babies gets frustrated at some point of photographer moving, wrapping, changing, especially when the session may last more than 3 hours. Imagine how you would feel if you were sleeping and someone kept moving you? It is the same for these little humans. A trained photographer will know whether a baby is getting upset and how to comfort the baby
A patient and professional photographer will know when a baby has had enough or is not happy in a particular pose.
Another reason photographers only have one newborn session a day is due to the high concentration needed at a newborn session. Not only does a photographer need to concentrate on lighting, focus and angles, but when working with little babies, breathing, posing, colour of limbs etc all has to be taken into account and this is where the training and experience of the photographer is paramount.
Along with supporting the baby during these complicated poses – there are lots of other considerations newborn photographers need to be aware of.
Baby’s are adorable tiny little humans with great flexibility. After all, they have been in the womb for 9 months, and their journey into the world isn’s exactly an easy one. But just cause they are flexible, this doesnt mean that all babies can be folded up like a taco. Some babies can do every single on of my poses with ease and sleep through the whole process none the wiser. While other abies are not as flexible and may not manage certain poses. A TRAINED newborn photographer will be aware of each baby’s limits and will not push or distress the baby.
Baby’s are also very very sensitive to temperature. A good newborn photographer will monitor the baby’s temperate through the session and keep the studio at a optimum temperature ot maximise baby’s comfort.
The baby’s circulation also needs to be monitored during certain poses – making sure that no stress is being put on tbe baby’s boy at any time. This is one of the top things I notice when I see posts popping up on social media. Some photos you can clearly see that the fingers/arm/feet have gone purple. This is a huge no no! And these are the edited photos too!
I also see photos where babies are super curled up in some poses which means their wind pipe is being restricted.
Looking at the image above, you can see that the baby is relaxed, and I dont just mean by his beautiful smile! His fingers are relaxed and not clenched, this feet, arms and fingers are not purple showing that there is no pressure on his limbs, and his chin is away from his chest meaning that he is not pulling himself into his chest in discomfort and that his windpipe is free from any obstruction.
Top Tips for Parents
- Always ask your newborn photographer what training they have had and if they are experience. A safety trained photographer will have no problems listing off the experience they have. Always make sure that the your newborn photographer is also insured.
- Does your newborn phorographer mention safety anywhere on their website, if not then ask yourself why?
- Is your photographer aware of safe pratices and making sure baby is comfortable? Look at their edited work they are sharing on social media and check out if baby looks comfortable and/or if any limbs look discolour/purple
- Look at the photographers previous work – are the babies supported? are they being safely posed when using props?
- Ask yourself what is more important – the price of the session or your babies safety?
How to Find a Trustworthy Newborn Photographer
When booking a professional photographer, Clayshulte recommends parents do the following:
- Dive into their entire portfolio—and then some. It’s important to look at their portfolio, look at an entire session, look at several sessions, and you should be able to see the photographer creating the same poses over and over again.
- Make sure they’re actively talking about newborn photography safety. You don’t necessarily want to ask about certifications, given that they don’t carry much weight, as photographers might just pay a fee to acquire those. Instead, “don’t be afraid to ask them who they trained with and then look at the portfolio of the person who trained them
- Remember, you get what you pay for—and experience will up your photographer’s rate. The number one reason that new photographers charge low prices is because either they’re not educated in what they should be charging or they’re not confident in their work, and you want to hire someone who is confident in their work, period. You do want to hire a photographer with experience who is priced professionally. Concerned that will mean breaking your budget? Ask for a payment plan, and book as early as possible, which can give you several months to make payments to your photographer. You might even be able to register for a session as a baby shower gift.
- Go with a photographer who specializes in newborns. Photographers who are trying to do it all are often newer to the field and less inexperienced. On the contrary, a photographer who is focused on newborns is likely to have more experience and safety training.
I hope that this little blog has helped with understanding the risks with newborn photography but also how to find the right newborn photographer for you and your baby.
I am an award-winning newborn photographer and I am highly training in newborn posing. I am here to help parents understand what to look for when choosing a newborn photographer and what to look for.
Previous Blogs on Newborn Safety:
NEWBORN SAFETY article published in Bokeh magazine