It’s one thing to say you prioritize newborn safety; it’s another to actually practice what you preach. Before we were newborn photographers, all of us were artists. That means we strive diligently to get “that perfect image/pose/frame.” If you’ve ever had a professional photography session, you know that sometimes the angles and poses that look best on printed film aren’t all that comfortable in real life.
Newborn photographers must put safety first at all times when trying to create new, inspired and delectable shots of your baby - and that takes extra special training, experience and intention.
I recommend visiting, Hiring a Newborn Photographer: What Questions Should I Ask...?” Use it as a resource while interviewing prospective photographers.
Today, however, I want to focus on the importance of keeping your newborn safe as your photographer works to achieve gallery-worthy photographs.
Tips For Hiring a Safe Newborn Photographer
Here are some of the things to keep in mind as you look for a newborn photographer who puts your baby’s comfort and safety first, while still achieving beautiful and exquisite images.
Verify they’ve taken (and successfully completed) newborn photography certification programs
“...there are no safety regulations in place for the Newborn Photography industry. Anyone who owns a camera can begin photographing newborns with no training and no knowledge of the unique needs of infants.”
Those words are part of the Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International (APNPI) safety page. Fortunately, renowned industry organizations, like APNPI, offer newborn safety courses and certifications.
When you’re searching for a newborn photographer, take a peek at his/her “About Me” page. Here you should find a tally of classes, certifications, conferences, industry memberships and awards, and any training they’ve attended and received throughout their tenure.
Ask if they use composite images to achieve their “impossible” poses
Have you noticed that some of the most moving newborn images seem impossible? That’s because they are - or at least - they should be!
The very nature of the tiny, fragile and wobbly newborn is what makes these photographs so precious. It also means photographers must work systematically to use a series of “composite images” to keep newborns safe from start to finish. Afterward, we work with resulting composites, photoshopping them into a single image “reality.”
Again, the APNPI safety page has wonderful examples of how composite images are used to create a single photo. Using this technique, we stabilize the infant(s) at every step of the process to make sure:
Their head is fully supported
The respiratory tract is never compromised by a too-tucked neck or crimped position
Babies are never suspended or dangling or isolated (that’s what dark backdrops, special posing bean bags and photo-editing software is for)
There is always a spotter immediately present when babies are posed on props
No pose ever puts baby at risk for dropped, collapsed or fallen props
Babies are always comfortable
The outcome of composite imaging techniques are multiple photographs with lots of adult hands/fingers in the image (supporting the baby). Then, we remove all of the visuals of unwanted supports or props from the final image.
Are they certified in infant CPR and First Aid?
The goal of any CPR and First Aid training is to prepare you to act calmly and expertly to a scenario you’ll hopefully never encounter. So far, I’ve never had to use my infant CPR and First Aid training; but I will renew it every two years just the same so I am prepared and the information remains fresh in my mind.
In addition to being essential if needed, having newborn-relevant experience and certifications is further evidence the photographer in question is conscientious about safety.
Please speak up (and secure your baby) if you notice any of the following…
So, let’s say you do your homework and hire a photographer you trust; it’s still important to know what to look out for in case s/he isn’t adhering to newborn safety best-practices.
Forcing the infant into a position that isn’t easily achieved
Using poses or positions that are clearly unnatural
Leaving your baby unspotted and/or unattended on a prop
Using suspended or obviously unsafe angles or positions for your baby
Props that seem unsafe (glass, splinters, nails, rickety or unstable antiques, backdrops or surfaces that are unstable or unsupported, etc.)
Creating trip hazards (cords, wires, props, equipment straps, etc.) that could cause the photographer, the assistant or family members to trip and/or fall on top of the baby
Dirty, unkempt or dilapidated props
Speak up immediately, and without any reservations, if you aren’t comfortable with how the newborn photographer handles your baby, you feel s/he neglects your baby’s comfort safety, or you don’t trust the condition of the objects/props being used.
Little extras help keep baby comfortable
Finally, there are extra ways you, the photographer and others present can keep baby feeling comfortable and secure.
Keep the room at a comfortable temperature - perhaps slightly warmer-than-normal for a baby who’s naked or wearing minimal clothing.
There should be plenty of time to allow you to nurse, feed and/or cuddle your baby to keep baby happy and secure.
Photographers with colds, who aren’t feeling well or are clearly ill should automatically reschedule with you - if they show up this way, send them home and postpone the session until they’ve recovered.
Photographers should never move or touch any medical supplies/equipment associated with baby - such as belly button clamps and circumcision gauze.
My name is Marcela Limon, owner of Lemonshoots, and I am an experienced newborn photographer who always prioritizes comfort and safety during my maternity and newborn photography sessions. Contact me and I’ll happily answer any of your questions and concerns. I can’t wait to safely provide you with priceless images of your sweet, newborn bundle of joy.