Safety is my priority with each and every photography session I do, so I am absolutely delighted to have been accepted this week as a member of the Baby and Newborn Photographers Association (BANPAS).
The association promotes safe working practices in the industry and each member agrees to abide by a code of practice, ensuring the highest levels of newborn and baby photography safety.
Sadly, there have been recent reports of newborns being injured during photo sessions by photographers trying to take photos of babies in increasingly popular complex poses, without training or even a basic understanding of the needs of a newborn. Equally as concerning, is the growing trend for ‘do-it-yourself’ photo shoots at home where poses are being attempted by parents, friends and relatives who do not know how they can be safely created. Of course, I find this extremely disturbing, not only as a photographer but also as a mum.
We all know that a newborn baby cannot support the weight of its own head and that it is the most vulnerable part of their body. It must, at all times, be supported and protected to avoid stress or injury until they have developed strong neck muscles. With this in mind, a baby is simply unable to support its head in their hands whilst balancing on their elbows in the ‘frog’ pose. Equally, poses of baby in basket, lying on a chair or suspended in the air in a hammock should all be created using ‘composite images’ – a series of two, three or several separate photos, skilfully edited in Photoshop to create one final image where hands or supports have been edited out. The final result being the illusion that baby is holding the pose itself.
Now, style and personal taste also comes into play. I personally think that many of these complex poses are unnatural. I choose not to offer photos of babies in the ‘frog’ pose, however commercially popular it is. I much prefer more natural and simple photos of baby in a comfortable rest position, where I am entirely confident that they are happy and content. For similar reasons I choose to use natural light rather than flash encouraging more genuine and natural expressions without distraction. I do, however, choose to apply the training and safety practices needed for these complex poses to my everyday work as they are relevant to each and every shoot – even with older babies who may be sitting but still a little bit wobbly or walking but still unsteady.
I took the composite photos below of a six-month-old baby from a very recent photo shoot. They show how I use mum or dad as a spotter and support in case baby moves. The final image shows them edited out of the photo.
My approach to newborn and baby portraits is simple. I will only do what the baby, parents and I feel is safe and comfortable. Your baby is your most precious gift and, for the time they are with me, I want you to be confident that I will treat your little one as I would my own.