This is my second post on tips for hiring a newborn baby photographer. In the first post, found here, I talked about the importance of hiring a photographer with experience – not only with experience as a photographer but one who has worked with a lot of newborns. Preferably a mom herself. Or maybe a neonatal nurse. Or maybe Mary Poppins.
In this post I will outline the obvious – safety – but more specifically, how to find a photographer who works safely with newborns.
Look For Safety in a Newborn Photographer
Look at your photographer’s newborn gallery. Do you see images on there that make you uncomfortable? Is the baby suspended in something, in an awkward or uncomfortable position or looks distressed or cold or in danger? Some photographers will actually suspend a newborn baby 5 feet off the ground in a sling or hammock with nothing under them – no hands, no support, nothing. This is WRONG and dangerous. Inexperienced photographers do not know that these “trick” poses are done primarily in photoshop. For example, in my gallery (and shown below) I have a photo of a baby lying on an elephant ottoman and another in a saddle perched on top of a large trunk. What you don’t see is that the mother is actually behind the trunk and holding on to her baby and in the elephant image the mother’s hand was on the baby’s back and I photoshopped her out. The same goes for the balanced poses where baby’s head is perched in her hands. That does not happen naturally and is actually a composite of two different images. In one image the mother is holding baby’s head and in the other, holding baby’s arms and then the two images are merged together.
Never ever let a photographer put your newborn in a hammock or sling without someone physically holding the baby – not the sling, but the baby. The suspension part of the image should be an illusion – the baby is actually still cradled by mom’s hands or a beanbag chair or both. I don’t even like doing sling images because I think it gives inexperienced photographers the wrong idea and sends them looking for babies to hang from hooks or tree limbs or whatever they use.
So quiz your newborn photographer. Ask them how they achieve specific images on their site and if they won’t tell you or tell you something that makes you uncomfortable, move on.
Another thing to consider when questioning the safety practices of your newborn photographer, is HEALTH practices. Be sure to ask if your photographer is adequately vaccinated. In order to work with newborns they need to have all of the required vaccinations as well as the flu shot. I will cancel a session if I feel even the slightest hint of illness in myself and have even cancelled when my kids were recently sick – just to be safe. When working with babies I wash my hands frequently and I keep hand sanitizer near me at all times – using it often during the course of the session. You want anyone who comes in contact with your baby within the first two weeks of life to wash their hands and sanitize before touching them.
Check back for the next post in my series on tips for Hiring a Newborn Photographer – STYLE.
Though not as important as experience and safety, obviously, your newborn photographer’s shooting style should be considered to make sure you get exactly what you want from your newborn photography session.