Newborn photography is a beautiful way to capture the innocence and wonder of your little one in their first days of life. However, it's important to keep safety in mind when working with newborns, as they are delicate and vulnerable. As a photographer, neonatal nurse and mother, my number one priority is always the safety, comfort and well-being of my tiny clients. Of course I'm hired to get those beautiful shots but I will never sacrifice safety for the sake of a good shot. Safety is always at the forefront of my mind during each stage of my process from beginning to end. Here are my top safety rules for any good newborn photographer and for any parent wanting to check the safety of their photographer before they book:
- First and foremost, it's essential to work with a professional newborn photographer who has experience handling and posing newborns. A good photographer will have a deep understanding of how to safely pose and handle a newborn, as well as how to work around any potential health issues. They should also have a full understanding of the necessary equipment needed to maintain safety such as posing aids, heaters and emergency equipment should it be required.
- Education is by far the most important thing that any professional newborn photographer should have. Photographing newborns and babies takes patience, knowledge and experience. Newborn photography is not just about understanding camera settings, lighting and composition although those things are of course important, it requires a knowledge and understanding of babies that is specific to the newborn genre. Newborn photographers should be confident in handling and settling infants, a baby can tell when someone is anxious or unsure and this can translate into an unsettled baby. It is important that the baby feels secure at all times, whether that is in someone's arms, on the posing table or in a prop. A good newborn photographer should understand the physiology of a newborn so that they know which positions are safe to place them in and which require the image to be a composite. All of this knowledge requires education specific to newborn photographers and should not be taken lightly.
- The environment is another important consideration when planning a newborn photography session, it's important to consider the baby's overall comfort and well-being. The baby should be kept warm throughout the shoot as newborns can struggle to regulate their own temperature and can therefore easily become cold. The use of a small heater near the posing area is often recommended to keep baby warm whilst attempting naked or semi-naked poses. If the baby becomes distressed then wrapping the baby can often work to comfort and settle them, a photographer should never allow the desire for a good shot get in the way of keeping the baby comfortable and settled.
- Hygiene is of course super important, babies are more susceptible to infection than adults and must be protected from the germs that adhere to our hands, clothes and surfaces. The photographer should always have a clean, safe place to pose the baby whether that is on a posing table, beanbag or in a prop. All wraps, drops and outfits should be cleaned between clients and hands should be kept clean with good hand washing and hand sanitizer.
- Safe posing is the cornerstone of a good newborn photographer, there are many beautiful newborn poses that make it appear as if the baby is either supporting their own weight, holding their own head or balancing on a shelf or swing. It is important to understand that these images are created using complex compositing skills in post-production. No newborn should EVER be positioned in a way that puts pressure on any of their joints or their little necks, nor should they ever be balanced on anything that they could fall off. Swing and shelf poses are actually an optical illusion where the baby is lying safely on their back and the image is taken from directly above making it appear as if the baby is on the swing or in a hammock. Poses such as "froggy" and "Potato sack" are always made up of at least 2 images composited together so that in actual fact the baby is always being supported by an adult.
- Siblings... siblings are a wonderful addition to any newborn session, however very young siblings can be unpredictable and again it can be necessary to use some post-production magic to make it appear as if the sibling is sitting close to the baby when in actual fact it is an empty bucket or basket in order to keep the baby safe. It is the responsibility of both the parents and the photographer to assess the sibling on the day of the shoot and make decisions about safe posing accordingly.
In conclusion, newborn photography is an enjoyable and unique way to capture the memories of the early days of your baby. However, it is essential that the baby’s safety and comfort come first. By working with a professional newborn photographer, keeping the baby comfortable and well-rested, and ensuring proper positioning and safety precautions, you can ensure that your newborn photography session is a positive and safe experience for everyone involved.
As an experienced neonatal nurse I pride myself on having safety as my number one priority so you can rest assured that your precious baby is in safe hands.