Newborn photography tips for beginners includes learning the importance of Newborn Photography Safety. Snag this FREE guide to have a newborn photography workflow for newborn photography safety as you embark on your newborn photography business.
Newborn Photography Safety
As a newborn photographer, I started out like many other newborn photographers – I wanted to hang out and cuddle with cute, squishy newborn babes. But as time went on, I realized that to actually do this as a business and keep both myself and my clients safe, there were measures I needed to take to open a business and run things the proper way.
What I want to provide you with are the most common steps you can take to ensure that you, your clients, and your business are following some simple steps to keep yourself safe through each and every session with those wonderful tiny clients.
With each session comes the possibility that a client, or yourself, is going to get hurt, as well as a client getting upset because things weren’t done the way they liked. This isn’t just for the client, but for yourself as well. Business insurance not only provides you, your clients, and your equipment the protection you need, but will also show you are serious about running your business and will give new parents peace of mind.
Iron Clad Contract
Getting a contract from online somewhere and then editing it to fit your needs isn’t enough. You want to have a reputable lawyer look over your contract to ensure all of your clauses as well as your wording is legal in your local area. State to state, laws change, as do laws from city to city. You want to make sure each time a client signs, there isn’t a loophole they can get through to cause problems.
Have you seen…
ADDITIONAL Tips: 6 Steps to a Safe Newborn Session
Safety In Studio
Regardless of whether you work from home, a commercial studio, outside or in a clients’ home, a studio is a studio. You will most likely be working with backdrops, wraps, blankets, hats, pants, knitted items, props, baskets, buckets, and much more, depending on your style. Anything you have around a newborn needs to safe enough for its gentle skin, fragile body and near non-existent immune system.
Everything that baby gets wrapped in or put on that is cloth should be washable. Every reputable vendor for these handmade items will be able to provide you with instructions for how to care for soiled items, so if you aren’t sure you can return to the vendor for assistance. Items should always be washed, because what germs are around you may be safe for them and you, but not for the next baby. In addition to this, if a baby soils an item, leaving defecation of any kind in an item can lead to dangerous life threatening bacteria for people of all ages. Whether it’s in a washing machine or by hand, wash all your items with hypoallergenic soap that is free of dyes and perfumes, so that babies with sensitive skin will be better protected against harsh chemicals.
When you are choosing cloth items such as wraps and blankets, you want to pick things that are soft and won’t scratch baby. Avoid items with small metal particles in them, or items that shed which baby could grab onto and eat, or accidentally breathe in when their face is near the item. As an adult, you have sensitive skin on the inside of your wrists, and you can rub an item there to see how soft it will be (approximately) for baby. Anything that is uncomfortable or scratches the skin should be skipped.
When you are choosing props for baby to be in and on such as baskets and buckets and benches, there are some simple steps to follow to reduce the major scares of said items. Here is a small breakdown of some of the more probable issues with these props, especially older and vintage items:
- If the item is rusty, don’t purchase it. Newborns cannot get a tetanus shot and rust can be harmful, or even fatal, to a newborn.
- This is something you will need to spend time checking carefully by sight and feel. Run your hands along all the edges of props, and check all corners and ends. If the item is wood, carefully rub against the grain and check for splinters. There are plenty of safe props to be found, so don’t distress if you have to pass on something really cute!
- Old Paint. If the item is vintage and is painted, it is best to consider having it sanded and repainted. Older paints contain lead, which can be extremely harmful if ingested. You can also send in a sample of the paint to have it tested for lead, but if this is unavailable to you, consider just passing on the item until you have the resources to ensure the paint is safe for a baby. You should also avoid items where the paint is chipping. Small chips can be ingested by the baby and larger chips can cut their fragile skin.
You want to also make sure the item is heavy and sturdy enough to contain baby. Even if an item can carefully and safely hold a newborn, always have an assistant standing just out of frame ready to grab baby in case they need to. Newborns can move quickly and unexpectedly and this can mean a dumped bucket or basket in a matter of seconds.
Another way to keep your studio safe is to use an assistant. Mom and dad are great in the beginning, but as you get more advanced and work faster and with more complicated posing, you want someone who is versed in what you do, how you do it, and can quickly help you into a pose or prop without question.
Don’t wear your camera around your neck. You heard me! If you let go of the camera to help pose the baby, it can swing back and forth and accidentally hit the baby as you lean down.
Clean your entire studio after each and every session. You can’t see germs, and you don’t know what lingered on the parents or the baby that is now in your studio. Use a safe organic cleaner to quickly kill away anything trying to survive in your studio.
Learn what images are a composite and what are not. If you have a shot you want to recreate, use the internet as well as newborn forums and groups to ask how to do that shot, so you can learn how to pose the baby and whether or not you need to take multiple safe shots to composite later on.
Safety of Items from Vendors
It needs to be said that not all vendors, just because their props are cute or they have thousands of Facebook fans, are safe vendors. Most vendors do their best to keep items safe, but you always want to be proactive and inquire anyways. When you purchase props, there are a few things you want to look out for.
First, your items should come from a smoke free home. Second hand smoke lingers, and it can harm a newborn’s respiratory system. On top of that, it stinks, and your client may be able to smell it and will assume the smell is coming from you or your storage. It’s easy to ask a vendor if they are smoke free, but if an item comes smelling like smoke, don’t use it until you can ensure that the smoke smell is gone, which means that nearly all of the smoke particles are gone as well.
Items should also come from pet free homes. Pet hair can linger in items as well as pet dander, and this can cause skin sensitivity issues as well as allergen and respiratory issues if a newborn has an unknown pet allergy.
Wash all the items you receive before first use, in case there are germs lingering on them that are harmful to the newborn you put them on. It also verses you in cleaning the items.
Red Cross offers affordable classes that teach newborn safety, so in the event you have an issue in studio you know how to care for the baby. If you use lights, consider asking a local pediatrician to review the strength of your lights so you know they are safe. Being aware of how a newborn works and how to help it if it chokes or has an issue will add a layer of safeness and credibility that not everyone can boast about!
Having Fun While Being Safe
While this may all sound like a lot of work, you will soon learn a workflow that helps you keep your newborn clients safe while also making the session lots of fun. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy your job, especially while working with such cute little ones!
Your gut can be trusted a lot. If you ever want to use something but you have a feeling it may not be 100% safe, ditch it. It’s better to be overly safe and turn down a potentially lovely shot, than to use something that injures a newborn.
Now get out there and start cuddling some more squishy newborns!
Hi! I’m Jenna Schwartz, a 7 year veteran of newborn, child, family and portrait photography. I have over 65 awards, international publication and “Best of” city awards for 2013 and 2014, and I’m ranked in the top 10% child photographers in the world and the top 5% of the US. I work from a residential studio in Henderson Nevada and travel to Eastern Ohio for several times a year for sessions. When I am not shooting, I’m hanging out with my two cats, my husband and my stepson.