Firstly this isn’t a catch! I’m not saying book me, there is so much information out there now. So many businesses selling newborn photography, I think where I live there are 5 or 6 photographers all within 10 minutes drive from me, at varying levels and pricing, it’s a complete and utter minefield. Obviously pricing can heavily play a factor in deciding upon a photographer, I know some people can’t afford me, and I will recommend cheaper photographers local to me if I know they are safe!
- So what makes a safe newborn photographer?
Some poses are more unsafe for a baby i.e. frog pose.
This is a pose you love or hate! I actually find this pose really easy and yes I was trained on it, what shouldn’t happen is your baby is practice for somebody learning who has watched a Youtube video. Asking your newborn photographer if they’ve trained or how long they have been doing posed shots like this is acceptable. The market is totally unregulated. There is no body that categorically has responsibility to ensure safe standards are met, I’ve even seen one quite big photographers training video, where the baby is propped up alone with no hand in place, even during a session a photographer should be able to assure you if you have concerns. I make it clear to my clients to say if they aren’t happy with anything. Sometimes this pose tends to aggravate windy tums, as babies back is quite straight which of course is amazing for getting wind out, and this can unsettle the baby, a good photographer will be able to tell if a baby is hungry, has some wind pain, or is uncomfortable. Not every baby will go into this pose, so having trust in a photographer you have chosen is a very important part of the process as you are placing your most precious bundle in the photographers hands. This shot should always have a hand in either at the top or bottom to be safe and then composited in photoshop. Should you go to a brand new very cheap photographer requesting this pose – I personally think no, but if you can’t afford a more expensive photographer, don’t attempt this, don’t risk your baby, there are equally gorgeous poses out there that won’t risk your baby. The only way to stop bad practice with photographers is to not expect someone to do something they can’t do or haven’t had training in. Education for photographers is out there, not everyone chooses to use it or takes notice. So don’t be afraid to ask questions – this little person is your most important thing you will ever have!
Even with poses like this, and yes I’ve seen baby perched on a prop whilst the baby is videod snoozing, babies have a startle reflex. Literally they can jump and fall off something. A hand always needs to be safely in place on babies back. Things to look for in a photographers images – is babies head near anything sharp, are their arms propped up and are they balanced on something, if so was a hand edited out.
Outdoor newborn shoots are very rare in the Uk, we just don’t have the climate, this particular day was sweltering and we were in a wooded area so took the opportunity after family shots to make this gorgeous fairy image. Composites are available now and a good photographer will be able to seamlessly photoshop a baby in a pose into a corresponding digital backdrop. That’s one way to achieve all the gorgeous outdoor images, babies should always be warm enough during a shoot. It helps settle them, if you’re a bit sweaty in the room, then baby is going to be nice and toasty with no clothes on.
There are a lot of photographers who don’t offer the posed images above but work on a beanbag also above.
Even something which looks so simple like this image where baby is resting on it’s arms. This should not be done by newer photographers who don’t have the experience or training to do this, too much weight could go on babies neck, you have to watch for circulation problems. Also if baby is very new, a photographer should be watching out for the clamp, pulling or knocking a not healed umbilical cord can sometimes make a baby bleed out. So this should be taken into consideration when you look for a photographer, check through their portfolio. If you are unsure, ask to see 2-3 different newborn galleries, you can then see if a photographer is consistent with their work.
Even the best older brother or sister can not always handle a baby that could startle. Your choice of newborn photographer should offer safe posing.
And I don’t think any photographer should be posing a baby actually on a shelf like the image below. This is a composite, even with a hand in place a baby should never be in something high, for this image the shelf was placed onto a beanbag, so the baby was on something large and a hand was in place. Very often baby if sitting up will actually be laying on the floor with his back on the floor.
This gorgeous little girl baby dressed as a sunflower was actually photographed on a beanbag and then composited into the shot. Babies definitely shouldn’t be in this sort of pose without a hand in place.
So what can you do if you can’t afford the photographer you love? You have to weigh up if maybe you can afford them but can’t afford it all. We’re often pushed for the cheapest price for all the digital images. Digital images should be a photographers most expensive product, as that is it, all the photographers work. Do families need 30 images of their newborn? If you’re totally in love with a photographers work, look to see if they do a print package, I often tell my clients that maybe you can’t afford all the images but you could have 3 stunningly beautiful and edited prints. Weighing up whether you go for quality over quantity is a very real question parents to be should ask themselves. Some photographers may offer a payment plan and release product or images once full payment is received. If that still puts things out of budget then looking for newer photographers is an option, you still need to ensure they are safe, but someone that has trained recently and is maybe portfolio building may be cheaper. Failing that, the following poses are safer poses, a baby laying on it’s back on a huge bean bag tucked in is safe, your photographer should have a neck strap on their camera and have the strap round their neck whenever shooting a baby from above.
Again things photographers should be looking for is nice skin tones, if a foot or hand is going really purple (a photographer should always watch for things like that some babies have atrocious circulation and their hands will go darker and their feet, checking that their is good circulation is essential from any photographer). A baby should never ever be going purple or dark coloured in the face, that would point to airway obstruction and it just should not happen.
Babies generally unless very relaxed love curling their hands into fists, things like this pose is achievable by most photographers, again, baby should always be warm and comfortable, and in a clean environment. I also am quite careful about placing babies on certain wools in case they have a reaction. Babies should never be left even in this pose in can they startle or roll.
Even newer photographers can achieve these stunning poses, baby is not on an angle the angle is changed afterwards so baby would be laying flat safely on a huge beanbag and the camera angle changed or it’s changed in post production.
Look at photographers work, shooting below noses seldom is flattering on anyone, so if you’re looking at cheaper photographers basic knowing how to angle children and babies to get great shots that are safe there should be examples by clicking on their portfolios.
Note the above two images are actually the same position just a clever angle is changed in camera so baby is laying flat on something huge.
Ultimately cost can be a huge factor in choosing a good photographer, don’t risk your babies safety because you love frog pose, something like a baby laying safely on a blanket snuggled up, is just so simple and so beautiful and safe as long as baby is warm someone is close by, those features are the most important thing of all. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about whether a photographer is insured. Also watch out for hidden prices, and terms and conditions. Ask questions like – if we choose to opt for a lesser package – can we pick any photos. I have heard of unscrupulous photographers telling clients that a digital image they want is sized for canvas only so they end up being pushed to borrow money. Luckily in this day and age, I don’t know barely any photographers who would try this ploy, but just because something looks like a complete bargain, do ask further questions.
Even if you can’t afford a photographer do ask for advice off of them still. Most photographers that genuinely are in the job because they love babies and people will happily point you in the direction of cheaper safe photographers and will refer to other people, a photographer should be friendly and not pushy most importantly.
Liz Wood is an experienced and safe newborn photographer who lives on the Suffolk/Essex border, she has over 24 years experience in photographing, children, babies, families and has specialised primarily in newborn photography for the last few years.