So this morning, like every other, I woke, carried out my daily morning tasks and opened my Facebook page to respond to some enquiries. In my newsfeed, I was faced with a video post, by another so called "newborn photographer", of a baby balancing in froggy pose without support/hands on the baby. Not only was this baby therefore unsafe with the positioning of her hands and head but the baby then fell. It made me feel sick and I am sure that any parent watching would have also had the same reaction.
I have talked about the subject of safety in numerous blogs as it is something I am very passionate about. In a time where there is a market full of 'newborn photographers", I feel like I have a duty to educate parents and also other photographers who may be starting out. The froggy pose is one of the most complex poses of them all, so I thought I would take this one as a more specific example of why it is important to use a trained specialist.
Newborn photography, where baby is positioned and posed is an art and a skill. Training and experience is key. I tell anyone who makes an enquiry with me, whether they choose me or not, to ensure that the photographer that they choose is trained in the art of newborn safety. Will I ever stop raving about safety?, absolutely not. For me it is the most important questions to ask when booking your session. So what should 'trained in safe posing mean?
Correct training for me is hands on, physical training in a correct and controlled 'workshop' or mentoring environment with a reputable and experienced photographer. There are hundreds of videos online and videos on 'newborn posing' that are sold daily. Some of these are great and I am not disregarding them per say, but I feel that videos should be secondary to physical, hands on training and used to provide additional tips and development on top of a solid foundation. Lets face it, would you take your child to a dentist or a hairdressers where their training had been conducted via a video? I doubt it.
In addition and probably most importantly, is that the hands on training, is based on creating images via composites. A composite is the only way to conduct some poses and guarantee 100% safety, as hands are on the baby at all times.
So here is an example the Froggy pose, created by a composite.
Let's consider in the first instance that a baby's head is a third of it's entire body weight. That's pretty heavy and on top of a neck that baby has no control over, because of their week muscles. If a baby's head were to fall, flop or jerk sharply, this will likely cause them harm. In extreme situations this could lead to harming their windpipe or oesophagus. Now the chances of baby balancing and then falling are slim right?....maybe BUT who would want to risk that? I for one would never forgive myself.
So rather than balancing baby and hoping for the best, the shot is created using three different images. Baby as you can see in the example below is held at all times by the head and then again around their wrists. The parents hand around the wrist then takes the weight of the baby and it's head whilst one photo is taken and then the alternative hand supports the head and takes the weight from above, in the other. Baby is being supported firmly at all times and never let go. The parents alternate hand is always there for additional support. The two images are taken safely, smoothly without any stress to baby or parent. The two images are then carefully merged together using photoshop during the editing process so all hands are removed.
must also add that not every baby can be posed in this way. As a trained and experienced newborn specialist I am able to read your baby. I take time to love them, cuddle them and understand their behaviours. I can tell how well they relax as I am moulding and carefully manipulating their arms and legs into certain poses. I know those who will relax enough and those who will resit. It takes time, patience and careful positioning to ensure that baby is comfortable, never balanced and never unsupported.
There are several poses that should also be composites to ensure safety of your baby. Babies should not and will not balance. They should not be left alone in a prop or compromised in anyway. If you see your photographer "chancing it" or not supporting your baby, then take them and stop the session immediately.
So when selecting your newborn photographer and they tell you that they are trained. Are they trained in Safe Composites? Who did they train with? How often do they update their skills? How experienced are they ? Are they insured? NEVER be afraid to ask this and ask for examples.
For more details on my training, please visit the 'about me' section on the website and please feel free ask.