As an Association we are often sent messages from concerned members of the public and photographers with links to images of newborn babies in what appear to be worrying and/or unsafe poses.
Images that show babies feet and legs are purple from where the blood supply is being restricted due to the pose or being left to get cold. Photos where babies have clearly been left to balance in an unsafe pose potentially damaging their wind-pipe or wrists. Shots of babies that do not apper to be relaxed, happy and at peace, often with furrowed brows, possibly caused by either being uncomfortable, or from the bright studio lights, or both.
Sadly, we are unable to police the newborn photography industry, there are no reguations or health and saftey laws specific to this genre of photography, nor can we sit in on sessions and watch to see how photographers are handling client's babies.
What we can do however is raise awareness amongst both the photographic community, and the general public, that working with, photographing and posing newborn babies requires skill, patience and safety awareness.
All photographers have to start somewhere on their career journey, and more often than not, it's a simple case of "you don't know what you don't know" - nobody automatically knows how to pose babies safely, it takes training and education.
If you are a parent and at any point during your photoshoot you see your photographer doing any of the unsafe posing we detail in this article, please remove your baby from harm's way. It is okay to say no!
You might see some of our articles use the wording "this is a composite image"
Lots of our members will have images very similar to the following shots in their portfolio of work, and we take a behind-the-scenes look at how these poses ought to be photographed using composite techniques to achieve these images safely.
All BANPAS members understand safety and have committed to our code of conduct. Unfortunately the industry remains unregulated but if we can empower parents to understand even just a little of what goes on behind the scenes and how highly skilled professional newborn photographers are then we are doing our job.
Not every big baby brother or sister is thrilled with the arrival of their new sibling.
If a photographer feels their is any risk to their newborn client shooting this kind of image, they may well choose to shoot it as a series of different images, and then composite frames into one image.
Baby is supported at all times whilst photographed in a prop away from older sibling
Older sibling then sits next to the empty prop and photographer edits the 3 frames together
Babies in Swings or Hammocks
Young babies that cannot sit unsupported, and especially newborns, should never be photographed raised off the floor in either a chair, swing, hammock, or any other such prop.
You can see in this behind the scenes image on the left, that the swing, although elevated, is still safely supported on the stool and baby is held at all times. The spotter never lets go - not even on a count of "3, 2, 1" and the shutter button pressed.
A skilled newborn photographer will take enough frames to enable them to remove all signs of support.
Chin on Hands Pose (aka The "Froggy" Pose)
You may see this kind of image on a Photographer's website, as it's a really popular pose that includes baby's face, toes and fingers that creates a WOW image.
It actually takes a lot of patience and skill to perfect this pose. A photographer must be aware at all times of circulation to feet and fingers, as well as ensuring that baby's airway is not restricted.
A newborn baby must be in a deep sleep for this pose to be attempted, so a photographer has to be familiar with sleep patterns and identifying when is the best time to handle baby into this pose.
As with most poses, baby should never be left unsupported at any time, and clear instructions must be given to the spotter (usually a parent) as to what is needed while the photographer steps back to take the frames.
A newborn baby's head is the heaviest part of her body, and it is not safe to expect a baby to be able to support the weight of her head on her wrists in this pose.
This baby has not been balanced in this position, nor has the photographer taken the image as quickly as possible before the baby topples over.
The photographer has used a composite image technique using two images and merging them together in photoshop to produce the final image.
Baby Held In The Air
This is a lovely image to show just how small a newborn baby is in the first few weeks - small enough to fit into mummy or daddy's hands.
What you perhaps might not realise is, baby is never actually held in the air, but is posed safely on a beanbag or similar surface, adults' hands are then posed around baby and the photographer will shoot the image from above.
Simple, and safe.
Top image shows the baby is actually asleep on a beanbag and photographed from above
Baby Suspended In A Wrap, Hammock or Sling
Much like the image above, babies that appear to be wrapped in a sling or hammock and suspended from perhaps a branch, should always be photographed as a composite image with baby neither elevated off the floor or left unsupported.
Baby is safely asleep and supported by a spotter and photographed from above to create the illusion that the baby is suspended in the air and the spotter's arms are edited out by the photographer
Baby Wrapped in a Bundle (aka "The Potato Sack" pose)
Newborn babies make lots of involuntary reflex movemnts until deeply asleep. Sometimes if a baby is restless and perhaps not falling into a deep sleep during a session, a photographer may wrap baby in stretchy fabric to keep limbs nice and secure.
Sometimes referred to as "The Potato Sack", this pose allows a photographer to still capture some images of a sleepy baby, and it will often soothe a baby into a deeper sleep.
baby should be supported, or "spotted" at all times and all evidence removed in post production.
With thanks to Cass Davies Photography for all of the images on this page
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