As the flow of babies coming through my little home studio continues to increase, I am more & more aware of what can happen during any given session. Safety is my first priority when it comes to all babies, and it trumps cute props every time! The majority of the time during a newborn session, the baby is safely posed on a beanbag with blankets and I am sitting right there with them (as close as I possibly could be). If the baby is moving or unsettled, I may even have mom sit next to the baby as well for extra hands.
When using props to pose the baby (such as baskets, buckets, suitcases, etc) if the baby is any way unstable in the prop, mom’s hand is right there touching baby and/or the prop. In this photo of baby Jackson in a cowboy hat, we had mom standing right next to the baby with her hand held over him and we actually propped something behind the hat to hold it steady and I removed it during the editing process.
Babies may seem like they are sound asleep, but they startle and move without notice, so it’s always important to have someone “spotting” them. I typically have mom or dad spotting them when they are not on the beanbag. If mom or dad needs to leave the room, I occasionally have an assistant, or I have my left hand on baby or prop. I have often seen photos online of people attempting cute photos with their own children in very risky situations. Please do not attempt to do this at home. There are many precautions that I take as a professional photographer to ensure the baby’s safety.
I remember back when I was in High School (twenty-something years ago) I would babysit my youngest cousins and set up a mini photo shoot with them (told you I’ve been into photography for over 20 years!). I would take my Aunt’s bedspread & hang it on the window as a backdrop. I remember even using a coffee mug to hold it in place once (needless to say, that did not work). One time, I used one of those kid-sized chairs on a wood coffee table and put my 2 year old cousin on it and it slipped off the table because it wasn’t stabilized. She wasn’t hurt (just mostly scared) but she very well could have been. I was a kid myself, and have grown quite a bit in my posing skills (although my cousin is probably still traumatized, 🙂 she’s going to allow me to photograph her newborn in a few months) but I would never attempt anything like that again without the proper tools and precautions.
I’ve even seen some professional photographers put babies into a prop that is potentially hazardous to the baby. I would never place a baby into a glass jar or something that could break, shatter, or potentially harm them. All of my props are sturdy and have proper cushioning in/on them with fabrics that are soft on baby’s skin.
This photo cracks me up because of the youngest sister throwing a fit in the background instead of participating in the piggy back pose (she’s gonna love this in about 12 years). What you can’t see in this image is actually cloned out: dad was sitting behind the girls on his knees, with his hands on baby Lucas the entire time. Just because you can’t see the safety precaution, doesn’t mean it’s not there!
Even though this shot was taken on the beanbag, which is typically the safest place I have for babies (and why most of the images are taken here) baby Isabella was awake and moving around quite a bit during her session. A friend of her mom’s was actually right beside the beanbag with her hand on her bum the entire time (her fingers were tough to remove, but well worth the effort)!
These twins were super fun, and the parents really wanted this shot in the suitcase. While they were in it, I made sure that someone was holding the top of the suitcase open at all times. Dad had said “I don’t think the suitcase is going to close on them” but you never know what can happen with babies-one bad dream can make a baby jolt and all bets are off. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to babies!
This is all to say that even though you or your friend with a nice camera may want to take some cute photos of your baby, you should never attempt any posed shots of your child that could cause them harm. Even if it’s on Pinterest, it doesn’t mean that you should attempt a professionally posed photo of your child. Leave the props and special poses to the professionals. And if you are working with a professional and something they are doing with your baby makes you feel uncomfortable, always speak up-that’s your baby! We strive to make you and baby feel comfortable at all times. The result? Precious images of your baby who is safe at all times.