Untrained newborn photographers putting babies in danger
This isn’t the first time that I’m writing about the importance of safe practice in newborn photography, but I feel compelled to write about it again today as sadly I’ve learnt of a few incidents in the past few days whereby babies are being unsafely handled by untrained photographers.
In the past week stories have come to light which have literally sent shudders down my spine. Supposedly ‘professional’ newborn photographers at two different high street photography studios have reportedly attempted dangerously complex poses with young babies; leaving them propped up without support, and so being expected to hold their own heads at just days old. This is so dangerous!
If you are a parent considering hiring a photographer to take photos of your newborn baby please take heed of my advice:
1.Ask for a photographer’s credentials before hiring them
Look for evidence of their membership of organisations such as BANPAS. Members who have demonstrated that they adhere to BANPAS’ professional code of conduct are permitted to feature the BANPAS logo on their website, and will proudly mention any professional training that they have completed
2.Enquire about safe practices
Check the photographer’s website for information, or ask them directly, about how they achieve baby poses such as the popular ‘hands supporting head’ and baby ‘suspended from a sling’ poses. A trained photographer will be able to provide examples of how these poses are created safely and with the baby being supported at all times
3.Know your baby’s limits
Be aware that a newborn baby is unable to support the weight of its own head and therefore any images suggesting this must be ‘composite’ images; a combination of two images, taken safely and with the support of an adult which is later removed via image editing software. A baby should NOT be placed in this position and then the photograph be taken before they topple over
4.If you’re not happy, say no!
Ensure that your newborn photographer does NOT position your baby’s head and hands over the edge of a container, nor place them in any kind of container or basket that is not weighted down.Always have a spotter next to the baby in the prop ready to spring into action if the baby moves. Do not let your photographer put your baby in any position which makes you feel uncomfortable about your baby’s safety
5.Check that your baby is happy
Although a newborn is usually asleep during a photoshoot, he will let you know if he is uncomfortable, cold, awkward or just unhappy in some way. Ensure at all times that the baby’s temperature seems satisfactory and that his circulation is no restricted as a result of being put in a certain position. Fingers and toes should be pink, not blue!
It’s absolutely appalling and completely unacceptable that babies are being put in dangerous poses and handled like ragdolls by untrained photographers. At no time during a newborn photoshoot should a baby be uncomfortable, squashed or at risk of falling.
A professionally trained photographer knows how to safely handle and position the baby, and create complex poses without putting the baby in any discomfort or at any risk whatsoever.
The image here shows how the ‘head on hands’ pose should be done – with the baby being supported at all times, then two images being combined with digital editing software to make the baby appear unsupported.
As the industry is currently unregulated and therefore there are no formal safety training or qualifications that newborn photographers must complete before being able to setup a commercial studio, I’m aiming to do what I can to help raise awareness among parents of the need to choose a professional, safety-trained photographer.
And if you are a fellow newborn photographer reading this, please also do your bit. Ensure to always work safely, take up regular professional safety training, keep standards high and do what you can to raise awareness among your clients as well. It will help to keep young babies out of danger and prevent the type of accidents that have happened in the past few days.
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