There’s a huge “movement” amongst professional newborn photographers these days about baby safety. Sometimes I feel like it’s taken a bit too far. One day I saw literally HUNDREDS of comments and shares of one person’s outdated photo that had somehow been found and gone viral on Facebook. Well, the photographer side of Facebook anyway. This photographer’s page had been completely over taken by people saying absolutely horrible things about her because of a photo that looked like a baby in an unsafe situation. It was cyber-bullying at it’s worst, and I was disgusted to see it. Even more disgusted than how I felt about the photo. And the photo, to be honest, was awful! It looked extremely unsafe, and the baby looked very uncomfortable. HOWEVER, that said, there is always more to the photo than what you can see in a finished image. The photographer eventually was able to clarify what was going on in the photograph, explain that there were spotters, and let everyone one know that she’d never do a photo like that again as she has since learned how to do composites. Oh, and she wisely took that photo off of her page.
So, why do I bring that whole story up? Because not long ago I came across this video on youtube. I watched it once and I will not watch it again because it makes me panic. I was going to post it for you, but apparently this too has gotten some “bad press” and it was removed by the user. Bummmer! Basically it was a baby of about 8 months old sitting in front of a green screen on a small box that was at least 18 inches high. There was NO ONE within arms reach of the baby. The baby leaned over and toppled off, but mom saw it happening ran and dove to catch the little girl. Amazingly she did and the baby never even let out a peep. It was terrifying to watch. Granted it would not have been a “life threatening” issue had she actually hit the floor, BUT… it could have been bad enough for the baby to take a header onto a hard floor.
Either way as a professional photographer, our first and foremost responsibility to our clients, and especially our littlest, most delicate clients is safety. Now if you’re an X-games photographer then great, you’ll get to photograph all kinds of crashes and near death experiences, but for us portrait photographers, we should NEVER in a million years put babies and children in any kind of risky situation at all. Shame on us for having the nerve to think that we can perch babies on dressers, hang them in baskets, or even prop their chin up on their hands without some “technical” help. Bad! Bad photog! But seriously, just don’t do it. Please. It could never be worth it to even take the chance to hurt a baby or child, NEVER!
And if you’re a client looking for a photographer, please be advised that just because they claim to be a professional and are charging for their services does not necessarily mean that they are competent or qualified to handle your baby. Make sure that YOU feel comfortable with everything that is going on at the session. If something ‘feels’ off to you, then say so, and if you’re with a true professional then they will take your concerns to heart and change things up. And if they don’t, I would advise you to walk away. They are not the photographer for you.
Also, you need to be familiar with the word composite. That simply means taking 2 (or more) photos and making it one. So those lovely images you see of babies all wrapped up in a gauzy sling hanging from a branch, that is a composite. NEVER let someone try to hang your baby from anything! Baby should not be unsupported. There are clever ways of getting those images, but it’s NOT by actually suspending a sweet newborn, ever! So if you come across images that you love and just can’t bear to be without of your new little bundle, then talk to the photographer that you want to hire about those, and make sure you understand the process that they will use to make those images happen. There really is more to great photos than just pushing the button. 🙂
I don’t really have a bee in my bonnet about this. I just think that it’s wise to educate and encourage as much as possible. Sometimes these things never even occur to someone unless it is pointed out. I don’t want to be that photographer who takes unnecessary risks with a precious little one for some gimmicky shot. There are plenty, in fact more than plenty, natural poses that capture every sweetness of babies and children, without having to try something that may not be safe. AND my photographer friends, please don’t be that person who throws caution to the wind and takes those chances. It’s not worth it, and I honestly can’t say that enough. Think about it, you’ll agree. 🙂