As a specialist newborn photographer in Chesterfield, I often see photographers attempting to produce arty, creative, newborn baby shots without following appropriate techniques and safety procedures.
It was recently brought to my attention that two new mums were left horrified by photo-shoots with a photography franchise based in a well know high street store. One baby rolled off the posing stand and another baby’s delicate head was allowed to drop in an attempt to create a head-in-hands (froggy) pose.
I have been professionally trained in the safe art of newborn photography for more than four years now, these images should only be created using edited, composite shots, where two or more images are morphed together to allow the baby to be held gently in position and kept safe at all times.
I see studios offer session for just a couple of hours where in reality a properly conducted sessions usually last up to four hours. All my sessions take place in my boutique studio, in a temperature controlled room & parent are involved to help to create these images.
My Facebook newsfeed is full of photos of newborns whose safety is not being taken into consideration to achieve these poses. There is a lack of awareness on how these beautiful images are created, parents see them, request them and are non the wiser about what’s right or wrong.
Babies are being put at risk and it won’t belong before a newborn is seriously injured due to unsafe practices. I’m very keen to raise awareness about this issue – we might not be able to monitor substandard photographers, but we can drastically reduce the problem by making parents more aware and putting them in control.
Families in the UK are generating unprecedented demand for these pictures, which became en vogue in America and led to the UK market being flooded with photographers offering the service. More and more images have spread across the internet on sites such as Pinterest and Flickr – fuelling demand further.
I am a member of the Baby and Newborn Photographers Association (BANPAS) which promotes the safe practice of Newborn photography. – Helen McGlynn, co-owner of the organisation, said recent reports illustrate not only the bad practises of some photographers, but a major lack of awareness amongst parents about how these photographs are created when done properly.
“Sadly we think this is the tip of the iceberg – newborn and new baby photography has exploded in this country in recent years, and so there are many stunning photographs of babies in sleepy poses in baskets, on suitcases or swings – all of which have been taken very safely, as two or three shots and created as a composite image,” she said.
The problem is parents see these photos and ask for them, not knowing how they’ve been created. At that point mums and dads, who are usually exhausted with very young baby, are totally relying on the photographer to know what they are doing and to have had the right training. Sadly that is often not the case.
It’s not just untrained photographers that are the problem – the rise in sales of professional SLR digital cameras has led to an increase in the number of hobby photographers or even parents, who unwittingly think these pictures can be re-created at home.
Emma Canham, co-owner of BANPAS often receives 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.
“It’s a major problem,” she said. “We see 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. We see photos where babies have clearly been left to balance in an unsupported pose, potentially restricting their airways or putting pressure on their delicate joints.
“And we see shots where babies do not appear to be relaxed, happy and at peace. In some cases it’s clear that the baby is in a very uncomfortable position.
“Sadly, we are unable to monitor what people are doing at home or police the newborn photography industry, there are no regulations or health and safety laws specific to this genre of photography.
“We are determined to raise the profile of this issue and educate the public and the photographic community – working with, photographing and posing newborn babies requires skill, patience and safety awareness, which are the core values of our organisation.”
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