Shauna McColl Photography

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Newborn safety week

It is newborn safety week, so to do my part I am going to post a before and after picture as well as list a few safety tips :)  It seems like newborn photography has become a HUGE thing in the past few years.  YAY for custom photography :)  With all of the craze, there are so many people just getting into this business, so many photographers just starting out.  I remember what it was like myself, I know how eager you are when first starting out, you just want to learn so quickly and do it all :)  I am afraid that not all photographers just staring out realize that not everything is as it seems, ex. COMPOSITES, which is 2 or more images combined into one final image, or the different tools there are available to crop or clone things out of a photograph, like a hand supporting a baby's head for example.  Here is my before and after:

Some of the images I have seen on-line of newborns honestly scare me, I just say to myself, "I hope that is a composite".  If you are someone who is just starting out in newborn photography, PLEASE remember, NOTHING is more important then the safety of the baby!  This can seem to be a very competitive industry with photographers trying to one up each other with new poses and props, but please always keep baby safe.  My best advice if you are just starting out, is to challenge yourself, see what kind of images you can produce with just a baby, a beanbag and a blanket.  Get very familiar with posing a baby on a beanbag, before you even worry about props.  Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

1) ALWAYS have a spotter near baby, even if just on the beanbag.
2) NEVER hang a baby from a tree or a branch, please people this is not okay, when trying to do a baby in sling on a branch shot, or scale shot, please do a composite.
3) If you use an electric heating pad on your beanbag, PLEASE ALWAYS make sure there is a waterproof barrier between the heating pad and baby, waterproof crib sheets, soaker pads, plastic, anything waterproof should work fine.
4) When using props like buckets, bowls, baskets, always put weight in the bottom.  I always put 10lbs. (unless I have a bigger baby) of weight in the bottom of baskets and buckets.  Free weights, dumbells, sand bags, whatever works ;)
5)  When putting older mobile babies in baskets or buckets, please make sure a spotter is right there, it is so easy for them to tip over.
6)  Make sure your spotter is very close when using props, it is better to be safe and take some more time post-processing to clone a hand out if need be.
7) If you use space heaters, make sure they are not too close to baby or blankets to cause burning.
8) Always be gentle when posing newborns and never force a baby into a position they are resistant to.  All babies have different levels of flexibility and you need to respect that each baby is unique and may have something different to offer.  A baby might not be very 'curly' or flexible at all for those 'womb-like' positions, but they may have very relaxed hands, giving you some peaceful looking shots.  Your job is to figure out what the baby your photographing has to offer, and never push them beyond that.
9) I had heard from another photographer about the latest fad of putting newborns in glass vases for props.  I couldn't believe it, but recently saw a picture circulating facebook of this exact thing.  It made my stomach churn.  Please don't EVER put a baby in a glass vase, the dangers that are so obvious to most people, had somehow slipped this photographers mind.  Could you even imagine what if?  Why would anyone want to take that chance?
10) You should only be trying a suspended baby shot with a sling or a scarf if you are very experienced.  This is another thing that is not as it appears.  The baby should only be lifted a few inches above the beanbag (with their heads supported in the sling/scarf), with a spotter right there, I mean RIGHT THERE.  This type of shot also usually requires more post-processing with cloning either the spotters hand out and/or the beanbag out of the bottom of the frame.

Just use common sense and please keep babies safety your number one priority.  Please pass this post along to anyone you know that may be just starting out in newborn photography.