This article is the second half of a tutorial on infant safety during Newborn and Infant photography sessions. To read the first half of the article, click here.
The second half of the article is based around infant posing and safety during posing, and is written by the same author as the first half of this tutorial, Anya Wait.
The safety of the littlest ones when taking photographs is very important. Not only is the environment very important, but even the equipment that the newborn rests on must be free of hazards.
Newborn Safety Tips for Infant Posing
I do not do any images that are composites. I am sure some of these can be done safely; however, I personally don’t feel comfortable hanging babes in slings or doing the chin-on-wrists pose (as I will discuss below).
If a photographer is going to do these types of images, where baby has the potential to fall over or be unstable, they should always be done as a composite.
Below are a couple examples of poses that I do (or don’t do along with reasons why) and suggestions on how to complete the poses safely.
The Head-On-Hands Pose
I have heard that a lot of photographers do the head-on-hands pose as a composite image. However, because I am so conscientious about the safety of the newborn, I do this pose frequently and don’t actually do it as a composite.
Here’s how I do it.
For safety purposes, I use a very large bean bag (like one from Shoot Baby or Newborn Nest) and place baby closer to the center of the bean bag to insure that if the baby’s head does start to fall over, the baby is safe and will not fall off of the prop.
I also shoot this image very close (with my 35mm), which allows me to be within very close proximity of the infant at all times in case I need to use a steadying hand.
Oftentimes when doing this pose I’m just moving my hand slightly to capture the images and rapidly shooting to get as many as I can in the shortest amount of time.
When the baby is in this pose (and really, when you’re putting the baby in any pose where you’re posing the feet and/or hands), pay close attention to circulation.
If baby is in one position too long and I see the baby’s hands and/or feet starting to turn red or purple, that’s an indication to me that their circulation is starting to change. When this happens, I gently adjust the baby again to restore good circulation.
This is why I try to shoot as quickly as possible, so I don’t have to leave the baby in a certain position for very long.
Head-On-Wrist Pose (also known as Froggie Pose)
This is a pose I do not do for a variety of reasons; however, I ultimately believe that if this pose is done with safety in mind, it will not harm baby in any way.
First and foremost, when it comes to approaching this pose, I believe it should always be done as a composite. This is because newborns have no control over balance and could easily topple over in the middle of the pose.
Secondly, prior to doing this pose with a newborn, it is crucial that you ask the parents if their newborn has been diagnosed with Congenital Hip Dysplasia (CHD), as the positioning of the legs could cause the infant’s hip to become dislocated.
CHD is found in 1 – 1.5% of the population and according to Dr. Melissa Murphy, DC,
An infant with unrecognized congenital hip dysplasia will risk full dislocation if placed in that posture. Dislocation can lead to chronic pain and life-long problems with mobility, so make absolutely sure that doctors have ruled out CHD before placing an infant in that pose.
To do this image as a composite, hold the baby up by the wrists (shown below):
Then, once the baby is positioned safely with you bracing their wrists, take the image quickly.
Next, hold the baby up by their head (shown below):
Then, as before, once the baby is positioned safely with you bracing their nead, take the image quickly.
Once the session is over and you’ve moved on to post-production, merge the two images in Photoshop to get the final product:
shoot, hold the baby up by the head, shoot, and then merge the two images during post-processing in Photoshop later.
By creating a composite image, you will guarantee that the infant will always remain in a safe position for the duration of the pose.
In the end….
Infants and newborns are exceptionally fragile, and their safety during the session is in your hands.
It’s up to you to always make sure that you have their health in mind – from making sure you’re healthy and prepared to work with the newborn before the shoot even starts, to posing and working with the newborn during the session.
And finally, if you don’t feel comfortable or familiar with a particular prop, shooting location, or pose – DON’T DO IT! It is not worth the health and safety of the baby if (heaven forbid) something should go wrong due to your inexperience and/or lack of knowledge.
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