First, let me start by saying a warm Congratulations on your new bundle of joy!
It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with options when talking about photographers.
There are many people these days that just pick up a camera and call themselves professional photographers. Everyone starts somewhere but this matter should be looked at closely especially when hiring a newborn photographer. There are many factors to consider before saying yes to someone that has a good looking “portfolio”. Do they have insurance for their business to protect your family in case of an accident ? Do they have the proper certification? Do they understand what safety and proper posing means ? I think you will agree with me that your baby’s safety is much more important than a pretty picture.
So what exactly should you look for when searching for a newborn photographer ? How can you differentiate a true professional from an amateur? How can you tell that your photographer is qualified, understands what safety is, knows proper posing, and is totally capable of handling your precious newborn baby ?
Here are a few questions that you should ask your newborn photographer:
1. How many years have you been working as a newborn photographer and approximately how many babies have you handled up to this point?
2. Have you received any newborn specific posing training and with whom did you train?
3. What are the safety practices you have in place in your studio specifically geared towards the newborn client?
4. Will my newborn be supported by human hands in all upright positions as well as any poses requiring suspension?
5. Do you work with an assistant or provide spotters at your newborn sessions? If not, will you allow me to spot my baby during a session?
6. What will happen in the case of illness, your own or otherwise?
7. Are you currently up to date on the necessary vaccines needed when working with a pregnant or newborn population?
8. Can you point me towards online resources from which I can learn about safe practices when photographing newborns?
9. Are you a member of an organization or association directly servicing newborn photographers and their educational needs?
In the following images, you will see what actually happens at a newborn session and how some of the most famous poses are created.
Several images are “composited” together, to ensure that your baby is protected at all times. Let’s look at this image for example. Your baby is safely posed on a beanbag and not actually “sitting on the shelf”. This image is a composite created in Photoshop.
This next pose is the famous so called “Potato Sack” pose. I personally know many photographers that position baby on the beanbag and don’t use any support or help from an assistant. No matter how many layers of wraps are being used, there is always a small risk of imbalance that can easily cause strain to baby’s neck. An un-supported baby also has a risk of positional asphyxiation caused by the pressure on the throat and underside of the chin as the heavy head rests on hands/wrists.
A baby needs to be supported and watched at all times! In the following poses, you will see that there is always an assistant/parent present that will support baby’s head and watch the infant closely while being photographed. Light weight props/buckets must always be filled with weights to prevent tipping over.
Never hesitate to speak up if you feel uncomfortable with something your photographer is doing with your baby. Whether it’s a safety concern or simply something you personally are uneasy with, either way, you are the one who’s voice is most important.
Here are a few other factors to be considered while choosing your newborn photographer:
Make sure that all the props/blankets look and smell clean. Most photographer will heat up their studio around 80 degrees so baby is not cold. Musty and mildewy smells could indicate the presence of mold growing in a damp, warm studio. If you are concerned about your baby breathing in mold toxins, don’t hesitate to choose to leave with your baby.
Essential oils are trendy right now, but can cause allergic reactions and sensitivities. Don’t hesitate to ask your photographer to remove the use of oils if you are uncomfortable with them.
Always watch for signs of overheating in your baby - sweaty neckline, mottled skin, redness in the face or irritability.
Make sure your baby is placed in props that are free of splinters or nails. Props should be weighted properly and newborn should never be positioned in/on glass containers or objects that can break or shatter.
Your photographer is insured in order to protect you in the event of accidents.
Your photographer has hand sanitizer available.
Your photographer does not touch, move, or attempt to remove any medical items such as belly button clamps, circumcision gauze, etc.
Your photographer, assistant or other people present are not ill.
And most importantly your newborn baby is supported by human hands at ALL TIMES throughout risky poses. This ensures that babies will not be at risk of falls, central cyanosis or positional asphyxiation – three very dangerous scenarios that can result in very seriously injury or even death.
I hope that through this post I helped you understand that finding a newborn photographer is so much more than just finding someone who “takes pretty pictures”. Safety should always come first and having images taken of your newborn baby are memories that will last forever.
More tips and questions on newborn safety can be found on www.apnpi.com
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