How to choose the right – and safe – newborn photographer for you

Choosing a photographer can be daunting – for a start there are lots to choose from plus the prices can vary wildly as well as all the different styles. Do you want lifestyle or posed? Natural light or studio lights? Do you prefer the vintage look or more modern? What budget do you have? Do you want digital images or printed products? The list goes on! It can be a bit overwhelming as you want to make the right choice – after all it represents a significant investment and it isn’t something we can generally afford to do every day. And when it comes to newborn photography, we don’t want to miss those special moments or regret having chosen the wrong photographer because babies grow so quickly and they change so much day by day. But most importantly when considering a photographer for your newborn, you need to consider safety above all else.

As a newborn and baby photographer I have to take the safety of my tiny clients extremely seriously. Parents are entrusting me with their most precious little bundle in the hope of capturing those first few days on camera – memories that will be treasured forever when the intense yet hazy fog of those first few weeks is just a distant blur. It is vitally important that parents chose someone to photograph they baby who has their baby’s safety as their first priority – well above getting a good photo.

It may surprise you to know that the newborn photography industry is completely unregulated. Anyone can set up and take photos of your child with little or no training. Photographers like me, for whom safety is paramount, have to take it upon themselves to be trained and educated on how to ensure the beautiful images we create are done safely.

So once you’ve made your decisions about what budget you have to spend and whether you’re likely to be putting the final images on a wall at home, in an album or sharing on social media (all of which can help you choose the right image package for you), and of course whether you actually like the photographer’s photos, then you need to start asking the safety questions. What experience do they have working with newborns? Do they have any training? Are they insured? HOW do they do their baby poses …?

I don’t do the classic baby in a bucket/basket, or baby’s head propped up on their hands, or baby balanced in a hammock or on the end of a moon images – it’s just not my style. My style is more natural lifestyle orientated.

BUT if that IS what you’re looking for, I can’t stress enough that you check that your chosen photographer is fully-trained and does these poses safely. Newborn babies simply are not strong enough to hold up their own head and they have a strong startle (moro) reflex that means they can move at any moment even when sound asleep – that means they can easily topple off a prop and posing a baby badly can cause strain on their delicate neck muscles. These poses MUST be done as composite images – this means a series of images are taken with a parent holding the baby in place safely and the parent is then edited out later in Photoshop. Anyone who doesn’t adhere to this simply isn’t safe.

Even though I don’t do these highly-stylised poses, I still adhere to strict safety measures which include:
baby is always well supported on a large posing beanbag that they cannot topple, roll or slide off. This is a special well-stuffed beanbag for photography that I bring with me.
baby is warm and comfortable at all times – I bring an electric heater to keep the room at a constant warm temperature while I’m photographing them as they may be naked for some or all of the shoot. I also bring a hot water bottle to warm the blanket they’ll be photographed on.
baby is only ever posed in natural and comfortable positions that do not put any strain on their limbs or joints. I am entirely baby-led – if baby doesn’t like a specific pose or is unsettled, we’ll try something else instead.
a parent is close at hand at all times as a failsafe measure and to comfort baby if necessary.
I don’t use a camera on a neck strap to avoid it dangling and potentially knocking baby: I use a hand-strap which means my camera can’t dangle and when isn’t in use, it’s clipped to a camera belt around my waist or I put the camera down somewhere.
all blankets and wraps are washed in between newborn shoots and I make sure I use hand sanitiser before ever handling your baby.

Reputable newborn photographers such as myself may also be members of the Baby And Newborn Photography Association – BANPAS – which supports photographers, provides access to safety training, and asks that members adhere to their strict rules on composite images for certain poses. BANPAS also provides a wealth of information for parents as well as a directory of photographers (where you can find me obviously!). They also have a great Facebook page for parents and parents-to-be.

I’ll be blogging more on choosing the right photographer for you for all kinds of photography in the near future, so keep an eye out if you’re interested in different types of photoshoot and what considerations you should take to get the best photographer to suit your needs. In the meantime if you are looking to book either a maternity or a newborn photoshoot, then I’m currently giving away a gorgeous Bump to Birthday journal for bookings until the end of March (while stocks last).

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