I’m a safety girl. I am. I’ve always been a rule follower that way. I put my kids in ISR swim lessons from the time they are old enough. I have been a long time proponent of extended rear facing in car seats. I’m just a bit accident prone myself (ok, let’s call it, I’m a clutz), so I like to do whatever I can to minimize accidents wherever possible. This does not exclude my business of newborn photography.
I’m a member of an online community called Learn Shoot Inspire and today starts Newborn Safety Week over there. I thought I’d share a bit of behind the scenes and before and after images.
90% of the time I use an assistant at my shoot. They are trained by me, and do very little baby handling. But, they are always on guard as a spotter for the baby when we do a prop image and I need to back away from the baby to take the image. Also, there are some images that require a bit of work in photoshop to make them look differently then when they are shot. I’ll photoshop out a bean bag, or the assistants hands, etc. Please note that all of the “before” images are darn near Straight Off Of Camera (SOOC) and haven’t been “polished” in photoshop yet.
And here is me on my soapbox for a few minutes. I have spent a lot of time and money in training to work with newborns. I went to college for physical therapy. I’ve studied extensively about newborns, their reflexes, calming techniques, etc. Newborn photography is all the rage lately, and when choosing a newborn photographer safety IS a consideration. Experience SHOULD matter. Trust me, I’m a girl that loves a bargain. But, I would never compromise safety for a “good deal”. It’s just not worth it. Ok, off my soap box now.
This first image is a classic of mine. It’s one of my most requested at a newborn session. In this image I have my husband standing off camera holding one side of the hammock. And as you can see, baby is just a few inches above the beanbag. The rest is taken care of in photoshop.
Next up is a pose I do often. Most babies can do this one by themselves, but occasionally, they just need a little help. Literally, just a fingers amount of help. In this image my assistant, Kate, was just off camera helping me. I removed her in photoshop.
Siblngs. Siblings are the ones I sometimes worry the most about. A toddler is so unpredictable. They can be loving one moment and wild the next. You just never know. For this image the older sibling was a bit of a wild man. Ok, he was a lot of a wild man. So I took an image of the baby solo to reference later in photoshop. Then while the image was being taken, I had my assistant have her hand on the baby the whole time and dad ready to swoop in to get older brother.
This is a classic example of an image that could be done without merging in photoshop, but for safety reasons, I chose to do a bit more work in post processing. I did not have an assistant for this image. I was not comfortable having the baby that high off the ground with me being several feet back. So, I took the image of her on the same blanket at a much more reasonable height, took and image of the highchair itself, and then merged in photoshop. This image has a special place in my heart. This highchair was my grandmother’s from the 1930s.
This next image is another example of why I love my assistant. I have trained her on exactly where to place her hands for this image. It’s very important that I remain in the exact same position when shooting this. I know some photographers have parents assist for this shot, but I much prefer using my assistant. This is an example of when my assistant handles the baby. Most all of the other baby handling is by me (after all, I’m the one with the extensive training). But, know that I train my assistants privately before they ever touch a baby in my studio.
Last is an image that I do a few different ways. I have been trained to tie the sling directly on the branch. But the day we shot this, I decided to do the merging in photoshop. So, I shot the sling image with my assistant. Then I shot an image of the sling tied to the branch (weighted with a bag of sugar) and merged them in photoshop. Again, you can see the baby is just inches above a beanbag and the assistant has her safely. Also, the baby is completely asleep for this. Actually, this image makes me less nervous than a prop image. It would be darn hard for a baby to squirm out of this sling. And if they are squirming, I’d never lift them up off the beanbag. Just not worth a safety risk.
When parents request a particular image/set up I try my best to make it happen, but always tell them “it depends on the baby”. Some babies just do not want to lay certain ways, and while I’m excellent in waiting a baby out, sometimes it’s just not possible.