Being a newborn photographer is fun, challenging and rewarding. It is fascinating when you finally capture newborn babies’ unique personalities and adorable facial expressions. While some photographers spend a lot of time polishing their photos, they don’t pay enough attention to potential safety issues. The key to becoming a successful newborn photographer is both being confident about your photography skills and being knowledgeable to perform the session safely. It is the photographer’s responsibility to create a safe and caring shooting environment, so that your clients will trust you in handling their precious newborn babies.
I have summarized a list of safety tips below. You are free to take some and create your own list, just remember to make them a habit of yours.
Stay Close to the Baby
Newborn babies can startle and move very easily. It is important to keep a close distance to the baby and make sure you are prepared for any sudden movements. Basically, you need to make sure that you are within arms’ reach at all time. Quite often I would ask one of the parents to come and sit beside the baby and use their hands to provide some support. Remember that you should never leave the baby unattended.
Pose Newborn Safely
Every baby is different in personality and they all have their own favorite poses. When preparing them for a setup, I would watch their body languages and try my best to discover their comfy spots. Keep in mind that not all poses are achievable, some popular poses are entirely photoshopped, such as the froggy pose, the hanging flower loop pose, and etc., If the baby doesn’t seem to like the pose, move onto another one. I never force a pose. If my clients want me to achieve a certain setup or pose that is unsafe, I will refuse and explain my concerns to my clients. Creative poses and setups are interesting, but as a photographer, I am ethically obligated to ensure that my subjects don’t put themselves at risk.
Pay Attention to Props Safety
When it comes to creative newborn photos, props play a very important role. There are all kinds of objects you can place a newborn on: wooden buckets, aged pails, crates, tiny beds, driftwood bowls, and so on. These props are appropriate for the size of the newborn babies. I stuff soft, clean towels or posing beans inside the props to provide support and protection. It is important to make sure there is enough support for the baby’s head because newborn neck muscles are not fully developed. The props I use are sturdy and large enough for the newborn babies to fit in. I also frequently inspect these props to make sure they are structurally secure and free of cracks.
Equipment Safety for Newborn Photography
When shooting newborn photos, a lot of times you are shooting from directly above the baby. Because professional cameras and lenses are heavy, the last thing you wanna do is accidentally drop it on the baby. Even if the baby didn’t end up getting hurt, it will most likely upset the parents. Use a hand strap to prevent the camera from slipping out of your hand. Do keep in mind that hand strap is different from neck strap. Neck strap is too long in most cases and would not prevent the heavy camera from hitting the baby.
Another safety practice is to make sure your light stands and background supports are secured with sand bags. Check all screws and joints on your setups, tighten them before shooting.
In short, when photographing newborn babies, make safety your first priority. The same applies to any other type of studio sessions, whether it’s for maternity photos, or cake smash photos. If you are an expecting mom, choosing an experienced newborn photographer means your baby will be handled safely. If you are a beginner newborn photographer, try to be extra careful and I hope the steps mentioned above will provide some insight.