The newborn photography industry is NOT yet safety regulated and that is SCARY!
One of the things that shocks me the most since becoming a newborn photographer almost 5 years ago is that the industry of newborn photography is not yet regulated for safety. So essentially anyone with a camera can not only instantly become a photographer but they can become a instant newborn photographer. No safety training. No studio cleanliness training. No insurance or immunization requirements. Nothing. So essentially they can do whatever they want with your little baby for several hours and have zero knowledge and training of how to safely work with a new baby. Did you know how dangerous it is to have someone snuggle your baby if they have a cold sore? This is unbelievable to me.
I have been searching for a long time for an legitimate program that I could become a part of to get certified in newborn safety so that my clients would know that there is a difference in newborn photographers and that they do have a choice between someone who takes this job very seriously compared to any average Joe that just got a camera, created a Facebook business page and started being a "newborn photographer" for $50. They can choose someone they trust to keep their baby safe during the session while capturing these important moments in beautiful images.
I take your baby's safety VERY serious and it is my number 1 priority beyond anything else when doing a newborn session. I have taken dozens of online courses teaching safe newborn handling, posing and Photoshop compositing so that baby is NEVER in an unsafe position while getting those beautiful images. I have spent hours and hours learning about the behind the scenes of newborn photography, studio cleanliness, safe handling and immunizations. EVERY newborn session I do includes an experienced newborn assistant who is also a experienced newborn photographer for this very reason. Just because you "know how to handle babies" on a day to day basis doesn't mean you know how to safely get them into poses or how long it's ok for them to be in that pose.
I have FINALLY found a newborn safety certification program that I am excited about! The American Association of Newborn Photography Safety is trying to change the way that the newborn industry is regulated. It is a safety and training certification program that you can take online and it teaches you about everything to do with newborn safety, studio cleanliness, safe posing, immunizations, heating, circulation and prop safety. There is a test at the end that you have to pass to get certification. It is not cheap, but that helps keep the separation between the garage sale site "fauxtographers" and the experienced newborn photographer that runs a legitimate business. I am hoping that soon this will become something that new parents will automatically start to look for when choosing a newborn photographer. Something that will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right one for your baby.
I recently saw a series of images that were posted in one of my photography groups on Facebook and I have to be honest, when I first saw them I thought to myself there is no way these images are real. Who would do this? The pictures were of a little newborn baby girl dressed up in a princess outfit and she was in a basket.....in a tree AND in a river. Yes, you read that right. No spotter. No composite. The poster of the image was very proud of his creation and the newborn photography community was outraged. Eventually the image was removed from Facebook but it goes to show you that some people just don't get it. I have also first hand seen a video of a new photographer doing the famous "froggie pose" without a spotter, and the weight of the baby's head was just too much for them and they topped over. This could have been disastrous and they were very lucky that she didnt hurt her kneck when she fell. These are tiny little humans that need to be carefully handled during their session. Just the other day I saw a photographer post a "pull back" shot with a little baby on a table atleast 5 feet away from him and I asked him where the spotter was? He said she was to the right of the camera. Well, she was NO where near that baby and I was in shock. He said he has been doing newborn photography for a long time. I don't care how long you have been doing it, if you don't do it safely you shouldn't be doing it at all!
When you see that adorable "Froggie Pose" where baby is holding their own head in their hands....that absolutely should be a composite of two images put together in Photoshop. One where the assistant is holding the top of baby's head and the other where they are holding the bottom. It is unrealistic to think a 7 day baby is going to be able to hold their own head in their tiny little hands safely and it should NEVER be done as anything other than a composite.
Don't choose just anyone to be your baby's newborn photographer. Choose someone that takes this job very seriously and that you know will do everything in their power to keep your baby safe while getting beautiful images that you will cherish forever. Be prepared to pay more because being a legitimate newborn photographer is NOT cheap. Choose someone that has experience not only in photography, but with newborns as well. It is not one of those sessions that someone can just jump into without any prior knowledge. With new, inexperienced "photographers" coming onto the scene daily its important to do your research when choosing a photographer for your new baby. Cameras are so cheap nowadays that anyone can say they are a photographer so definitely look for experience, portfolio samples and ask lots of questions.
Even some seasoned photographers that specialize in other genres do not know a thing about newborn photography and safety, so don't think that anyone can be a newborn photographer. Newborn photography is SO different from even 10 years ago. It's not just laying a baby on a blanket anymore. We are putting babies in all kinds of props and putting them in unnatural positions to get those adorable poses so we need to do it right. It is one of the most challenging of all types of sessions that takes a ton of skill, nurturing and patience. You can be confident when you choose me to photograph your new baby. Your baby will be in good hands and we will get amazing images that you will cherish forever. <3