Newborn Safety Issues – Photography, Posing, and Props

“How is that baby safe?” “That is so dangerous!!” “What kind of photographer does such a thing?” “I hope you have insurance!” These phrases are just a handful of many that have been voiced from the public when viewing newborn baby poses which, at first glance, appear to be dangerous.
Many parents, consumers, photography clients, and most viewers, in general, are unaware of the extensive safety measures and precautions taken by skilled photographers in order to capture these seemingly daring poses. Even new photographers, or photographers who aren’t seasoned in newborn photography, may be naive to these practices, as well. Photographers create illusions. When you see a finished image of a baby hanging from a tree branch, or a baby on the ledge of a dresser, it typically isn’t the case. Professional photographers with experience and knowledge would never hang a baby 12 feet in the air, nor would they be perched on the edge of a dresser without a spotter and other safety precautions.How do photographers manage to create these jaw dropping images?  Welcome to the world of composite shots, or in Layman’s terms, photo editing. If the newborn poses or use of props are done correctly, these babies are actually very safe. The key to promoting the safety of these precious babies is by spreading the knowledge as often as we can. In an attempt to do so, we have asked various skilled photographers to compile examples of the correct way to create these images by making a composite, and demonstrating the fact that what you see in that finished image is not necessarily what you would believe it to be.
Please keep in mind that I am NOT a photographer. I am simply a mom who owns a company that manufactures photography props for newborn portraits. With that being said, I am not an expert by any means, and I have just as much to learn as anyone else. At Custom Photo Props LLC we value the safety of newborns above anything else in our business and strive to bring awareness to the importance of baby safety in photography. Please continue to share in our efforts and pass this along to anyone who may benefit from it!
Here are some other website links that may be helpful to all of you. Please help by Tweeting, Blogging, Emailing and sharing with the public on this very important issue.
Video
Articles
Stephanie Smith –
                             Louisville-Kentucky-Newborn-Photographer-01 Lexington-Kentucky-Newborn-Photographer-01 Bardstown-Kentucky-Newborn-Photographer-01
Here are some composite examples that I’ve done. I want to make sure that everyone knows how important it is to be safe when handling newborns. I always take precautions to make sure that my sweet, tiny newbies are safe and comfortable. In addition to taking precautions, I never force my newborns into positions that make them uncomfortable. Not all newborns will like every pose, and I can tell very quickly by their cues whether they are sleepy enough position into each pose.
With the chin-in-hands pose [or froggy pose], an assistant will always have hands on baby. While they are safe and secure on the newborn poser, they are unpredictable and I feel more comfortable having an assistant support their weight to prevent them from startling and toppling over. I take a series of shots while my assistant holds baby’s arms in place and then I have my assistant support baby’s head and slowly move their hand away from baby’s arms and take another series of shots. Then baby is gently laid back on their side.
When using prop, I always have an assistant stand or sit with baby. Once I have them positioned my assistant will keep their hands on baby until I am ready to snap my shot. Once I am ready, I count to three and have my assistant raise their hand for no more than 2 seconds…enough time for me to snap several shots…and then their hand is back on baby. I may do this a few times to ensure that I get the perfect shot, but I never leave baby unattended.With both of these examples I take my before and afters and splice them together in Photoshop. Baby’s safety should never be compromised to attain a pose.
basketball compositeMy name is Amanda.  I am the owner of Amanda Wermers Photography.  I shoot a fair amount of newborns.  On average I have 2-3 a month.  I seem to be in a very long newborn boy streak.  Since last May I have only photographed 3 newborn girls!  CRAZY!!  It seems that with the boys I am getting a ton of requests for sports themes.  Last July I did a shot of a baby boy on a football.  It is now my most requested shot.https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=323436724414556&set=pb.117318195026411.-2207520000.1360428923&type=3&theater&#8221

I always tell parents the same thing.  I will bring everything to attempt the shot BUT it all depends on the baby.  I will not force a baby onto a football and I will not attempt it with a baby that is not fully asleep. If all the stars and the moon align then I will get the shot for them!!Well in December I shot boy/girl twins.  The parents are huge KU fans and asked if I could come up with a way to make the football shot happen with a basketball and BOTH babies!!  WOW….UMMMMM sure!  Huge request and I right away had it in my head how it would all play out if everyone was happy!With these twins I brought an assistant with me.  She is a seasoned photographer and very comfortable with newborns.  So when I arrived to the families home to find 2 very sleepy babies I was pretty confident that we would be able to pull it off!! As you can see from the 3 shot series I create my composites from 2 shots. 1 of just the ball with no babies and 1 shot of the babies with strong adult hands holding firmly.  With the twins I had originally planned to take 3 shots if necessary…1 of each baby on their own, but it was not necessary.  Baby boy was every newborn photographers dream baby.  He just slept.  He could have cared less where he was sleeping.  So I set him up first and had Dad hold him.  I knew baby boy would not fuss or squirm so he was a better baby for Dad to hold.  Then I set up baby girl.  She was very much asleep but she did not like being fussed with as much.  So I quickly got her into position then my assistant took over in holding her.I usually set my camera on a tripod for these shots to make sure I do not move my depth etc, but I broke the head off my tripod so I had to just go with it.  I marked my position with a chair and I was able to keep everything lined up pretty well!!
Southern Charm Photography
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Great Information on Composite Shots and Newborn Safety!!

Custom Photo Props LLC is always searching for tips and other helpful information to share with our customers on the importance of safety in newborn photo shoots. It is so important to do everything possible to ensure your little client stays safe and comfortable in their session. Here are a few links to some great instructional videos on putting together that perfect composite shot as well as tips on safety. Always put safety first before getting that “perfect” shot. We hope you find this information helpful and that you will share it with anyone you think will benefit from it. Enjoy!!

http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2012/05/04/how-to-composite-newborn-images-and-keep-babies-safe/

http://paintthemoon.net/blog/2011/07/photoshop-actions-how-to-creating-a-composite-image-combining-multiple-photos-to-create-magic/

http://www.debsphotographs.com/photoblog/2011/10/newborn-safety-in-photography/

Check out our great new safety/instructional videos!!

Check out the links in the blogroll for some great new videos from our friend Angie at Sweet Memory Garden Photograpy in Utah. If you have trouble finding them in the blogroll here are the links again:

Hanging Sling Cheesecloth Safety/Instructional video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gnHbI-oB4Y

Mini Me Hammock Safety/Instructional video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLdO_A3FJYI

Thanks!!!

**EXTREMELY IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR USING OUR MINI ME BABY HAMMOCK PHOTO PROPS**

Hi!  We have recently added some beautiful handmade custom designed Mini Me baby hammock photo props to our inventory which are great for newborn photo sessions.  These are amazing little hammocks and we want to be sure our customers are aware of the risks and use extreme caution when using them.  COMPOSITE SHOTS ARE RECOMMENDED when using these hammocks to ensure the safety of your little client.  Our friend Angie from Sweet Memory Garden based out of Utah has given us some pointers and advice on the best and safest way to photograph our Mini Me hammocks.  These shots may look dangerous but Angie used her expertise to ensure the baby’s safety at all times throughout the shoot.  Here is some information from Angie as well as the final image and the composite photos of her shoot with her Baby Pink Mini Me Hammock:

“This is the cutest hammock.  This is very much a composite shot, someone is actually holding the hammock so it won’t sway.   I had to make sure that each stand had one leg under the bean bag so the stands wouldn’t buckle over.  When I do hammock shots, I always have the back side higher than the front so the baby can never fall off the back side.  One hand is holding the hammock steady while the other is right there in case the baby moves (although you can’t see the other hand).  The second shot I just needed the left side of the hammock. ”  – Angie of Sweet Memory Garden Photography in Utah

   

Here is some more helpful safety information from Mari Annelise Photography based out of Texas as well as her shot using her Au Natural Mini Me Hammock:

“I would say the biggest safety tip is making sure baby is positioned perfectly before you lift them off the bean bag. We had to do several test lifts to make sure her head was secure and wouldn’t roll off. She was only lifted a couple of inches, we had two people holding the hammock, and mom’s hand was under her at all times. I took several images of the hammock and backdrop separately so they could be used for a composite shot (like you would do with the hands-under-the-chin pose).”