6 steps to a SAFE newborn session
As newborn photographers, it’s not just our job to take pretty pictures. Our clients trust us with something truly priceless and irreplaceable… their babies. The safety of our tiniest models should always be our number one priority! Here are a few ways to ensure safety always comes first:
Choose Props Wisely
Newborn safety starts before baby even arrives. When choosing props for your stash there are a few things that you should keep in mind… for starters, make sure any props you purchase are big enough to SAFELY fit a baby. If he can straighten his legs and launch himself off, it’s probably too small, and not safe. Make sure there is nothing sharp sticking out. It’s never safe to put a baby in glass! I personally prefer baskets that are wide and shallow, though if you choose baskets that are taller, make sure you weight the bottom of them with sand bags or ankle weights so that they won’t tip.
Prepare Your Space
When preparing for your newborn session, your goal is to create a warm safe space where baby will feel comfortable sleeping. If you use a space heater, make sure you don’t have it pointed directly at baby. I personally don’t feel comfortable using heating pads in my setups. Make sure your camera gear and any additional props you may need are set up within arms reach so that you don’t have to leave to get anything.
Be Mindful of Baby
This one is very important, and isn’t something that new photographers (or parents) are always aware of… Newborns have very poor circulation, which causes their limbs to turn purple very easily. Keep an eye on their feet and hands while in curled up poses, and don’t leave them in a pose for long if you can not see their limbs to check. Also, not all babies are super flexible, so make sure you gently test their flexibility before you try to get them into a taco pose so that you’re not hurting their legs, or do like I do and avoid that pose all together.
Have a Spotter
It’s very important to have someone nearby on a newborn shoot who can reach the baby at all times. When I shoot, baby’s mama or an assistant is never more than 2 feet away from the baby, and many times their hands never leave the baby at all (in the case of certain props or composite shots). Even though newborn babies aren’t “mobile” they can still launch themselves pretty far with a kick. My own daughter moved 2 feet across our bed once when she was 4 days old! Just a couple of quick kicks and she ended up right on the edge of the bed!! I show that photo to parents and fellow photographers who think that spotting isn’t necessary. It really, really is!!
Composite Shots are Safe Shots
This one almost speaks for itself… When you have a shot that you want to achieve, but it can’t be achieved safely, do it in Photoshop. So many of the popular newborn shots (head in hands, baby in hammock, certain props, etc) are done as composite shots. Hands are always on the baby, or sometimes the baby isn’t even in the set at all! *You can see some great examples of composite shots on my Pinterest board HERE.
When in Doubt… Lifestyle!
If you don’t think that you can safely conduct a newborn session with props, or you don’t have the necessary equipment, go lifestyle! The safest place for a baby is in her mama’s arms, and the interaction between them will always result in gorgeous photos!