Photographing a newborn safely

Many photographs that have a baby hanging in a hammock or a cocoon are completed by doing two photographs and blending them together in photo editing software to create the final image.  A hand is kept on baby at all times.  In the third image you’ll see that even though the photo was done outdoors and looks like it is hanging in a tree the baby is lifted very slightly off of a beanbag which has been edited out in the final image.  The baby is being held in a parents hand underneath and also holding the top.  The other parent is standing just out of the frame on the other side.  If the baby woke up or started to make even the slightest movement she would have been lowered on to the beanbag and we would not have proceeded with this pose.  A beautiful, creative portrait is never worth risking the safety of a baby.

If you’re a photographer you’ve seen this a million times before.  I’m writing this for parents though.  If you are having a baby and considering baby portraits it is important that you know how to keep your baby safe during your photography session. Last year I had someone ask me if they could borrow my hanging cocoon.  It made me really nervous. Because of this, I’ve quit using my cocoon even though I love it and always used it safely.  It makes me sad though as those photos are so adorable and my clients love them!

So, instead of never doing poses like that I’m writing this so that I can link to it every time I post a baby on the blog that looks like it wasn’t photographed in a safe manner.  🙂

Tips for safely photographing newborns:

1. Never place baby in a precarious position, safety always comes first.

2. Raising a baby high up off the ground or floor is not a good plan.

3. If you are unsure, don’t do it!  Trust your instincts.

4. Please don’t hang a baby from any type of “stand”.

5. Four hands helping is definitely the way to go.

6. Always have hands on baby at all times.

7. Blending two photos together isn’t as hard as it looks.

8. If you want to try something new it’s a good idea to have someone there that knows what they are doing.

Most professional photographers that have been in the business for a while know how to keep your baby safe.  Some though, may not.  If you are ever uncomfortable with a certain pose while someone is working with your baby it is totally okay to speak out.


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  • jennifer armstrong - such a great post, michelle. Really so helpful for parents to know & understand. And for photographers to hear again & again.