The Importance of Safety During a Newborn Photoshoot
As a newborn photographer we get to cuddle, love on, and pose these precious beings that are only days old…and we get to call it our job! How lucky are we? Parents are hiring us to capture their newborn’s tiny fingers, perfect little nose, fuzzy little hairs, tiny feet and that delicate, perfectly soft skin. It is such an honor to be chosen and trusted by parents with their most precious gift to create beautiful images capturing these details that will be cherished forever. Documenting this time is a once in a lifetime opportunity as they change so dramatically after those first few weeks of birth. Since documenting these moments for parents is so important, safety must always be the number one priority. It is important for photographers to get the training and knowledge before attempting to pose newborns.
Safety MUST be taken seriously with every newborn to earn your client’s trust and to assure them their new addition will be properly taken care of. It is our responsibility to create a safe and secure environment for these tiny human beings. Just as important is to continually communicate with parents so they know what to expect before, during, and after each session. I send a preparation magazine to my clients before each session, which explains how the session will flow so they know exactly what to expect the morning they arrive at the studio. During the course of your session explain your workflow and transitions, as well as tell them why you are doing what you are doing. This keeps them informed and makes them feel more comfortable knowing their baby is in safe hands.
Some babies are more flexible than others. You have to use common sense and NEVER force a baby into a pose. For example, a baby that is breech is going to fold into a ‘taco’ pose much easier than a baby that is not breech. Not all newborns can do that specific pose and a baby should never be forced to try. A newborn is not strong enough to be able to hold their heads up by themselves. Even if they are strong enough their heads must be supported to avoid injury to their neck. If a parent requests a certain pose where they need their head supported like the ‘froggy pose’ you must do a composite. Have a spotter holding the baby’s head in one shot and their wrists in a second shot. These two pictures can then be composited in Photoshop by merging them together. There are several YouTube videos to show you how to do a composite if you are not familiar with this technique.
A newborn should never be left unattended on the beanbag or in a prop. If you do not have an assistant ask a parent to spot for you. Parents love being involved and it gives them something to do. This one is pretty much a no brainer, but glass props should never be used. There are so many things that can go wrong and since safety is our first priority, stay away from anything breakable or sharp. If you are posing a newborn in a basket or bucket make sure you have their head supported. I have found that newborn posing beans from Newborn Cloud work perfectly for this, and they are also great for beanbag posing. If I am using a bucket for a prop and placing the baby in it, I always put a five-pound weight in the back of the bucket to even out the weight so that the bucket doesn’t tip. Of course you will still want an assistant or parent next to the prop spotting them at all times. While photographing newborns from above, always make sure you have your camera strap around your neck to avoid the possibility of your camera slipping. If a baby is uncomfortable during any pose, stop and move on to the next pose. Moving quickly from pose to pose can disturb a baby and they can become very unsettled. Take your time and use small gentle movements; this will help keep them stay settled during transitions. Every baby is different, so you will have to read their cues and figure out what works for them.
Although there are some amazing poses you see across media platforms, not all of them should be done. It is our job to be in tune with each newborn and find ways to settle them. One trick I love is placing a tranquil mat under my blankets on my newborn posing beanbag. It is a pad that soothes babies by gently vibrating and mimicking the sounds and motions of the mother’s womb. It is a miracle and newborns love it!
As newborn photographers we need to continue to educate ourselves so we can create beautiful pieces of art with the safety of newborns as the most important factor. I have taken several workshops and will always continue to so. I believe we should always continue to grow and never stagnate. Below I have listed some photographers whose workshops I have taken and highly recommend. Some offer both in person and online workshops.