This is a very serious post from me this evening but one that I feel you need to know about. You may see on some of the images I post on my Facebook page that I write that the image isn’t quite what it seems and that baby is supported at all times. But of course you wouldn’t really know what that entails so this evening I am going to share a behind the scenes look at how these images are actually created and tell you why they are done this way.
First of all, I can not express enough how important safety is during all of my sessions but even more so for a newborn session. Those tiny little new babies are unable to tell us if they are hot, cold, uncomfortable etc, except maybe with a little cry. My job is not only to capture beautiful memories of these brand new babies but to also read their cues. I will always monitor the temperature in the studio, you may think it is really hot in there but it has to be warm. I often photograph babies naked and they lose heat quickly if the room is not warm enough. You will also see me check little fingers and tiny toes when I have a baby in a pose, why? To make sure baby is comfortable and that circulation is not compromised in anyway. And I never put a baby into a pose if it isn’t happy being posed that way. There are plenty of poses we can do so we will just move on to something else.
So onto the behind the scenes part, what makes the images what they are? A little Photoshop magic.
I will start with one of my all time favourite poses and one that I have on display in the studio. Parents are always amazed at how this image is created and it is a big hit everytime. I call this image: I was once so small.
As you can see in the finished image it looks like baby is being held up by her Daddy but in reality she doesn’t leave the safety of a beanbag with her Daddy just placing his hands around her. This means that baby is safe at all times. I always talk parents through the pose before I start and explain what I am doing as I position them and baby. I also ensure that there is a hand on baby at all times and Dad or Mum doesn’t let go after the image is taken until I am supporting baby again.
The next image is one that I have seen done many times without support. I cannot stress enough how important it is to support a babies head at all times in poses like this. As I am sure any of you who have had a baby will know, babies have a startle reflex meaning that they jump. If a baby is placed in a pose like the one below and it startles it is a real possibility that it may hurt itself. This image is head on hands.
As you can see Mums finger is supporting little ones head in the first image and I have used the magic of Photoshop to edit it away in the finished image. Little ones head is also slightly leaning towards Mums hand. When doing this pose or any pose when baby is laying on his or her front I will constantly check hands and feet to ensure correct circulation.
And now for probably one of the harder situations when photographing newborns, the addition of a sibling or two. Photographing babies with siblings presents a whole host of different safety considerations. Older children are often able to follow instructions and depending on their ages may be able to hold the baby without concerns. However younger children are unpredictable and this must be considered when creating sibling images. So how do I overcome this, well depending on the pose I will either have the children laying down with adults close by to support and observe or I composite images together. Let me show you what I mean.
This finished image is made up of two separate images, one of the newborn baby and one of the two older siblings. The images are blended together in Photoshop to create a final image. Why do I do it this way? Well let’s start with the image of the newborn. As you can see Mum is sat right next to the basket and is supporting the babies head. This means that the baby is supported at all times and Mum can ensure that the basket is secure. (The basket is weighted at the bottom but I always have a parent or helper next to it anyway). Then to the image of the two girls, can you see the beautiful blond hair in the basket? That blond hair belongs to Evie. Evie is a doll that is used in poses like this to encourage interaction with siblings but to ensure the safety of the real baby. Evie started this pose in the basket laying just as the real baby is in the first image. As you can see Evie has moved somewhat and she doesn’t have a startle reflex so Evie was helped a little by the beautiful girls sat next to her. If this image was not done as a composite then Mum would not be able to be right next to baby to support her head and stop the basket from being knocked over. This image would not be a fun and relaxed image for everyone involved because everyone would be on edge, the older girls would be getting told off for touching the baby because Mum would be worried about them waking her and nothing would be in place to stop baby from falling if she startled or the older girls knocking the basket. When it comes to safety it is always best to composite an image rather than risk the safety of a baby. Yes it takes a long time to edit these images but I would rather spend an evening editing one image than risk my little clients being hurt.
There are many other images that are done as composites some of which I will not do as I just don’t like them. Any photographer should be able to explain to you how images they create are done safely and if you feel uneasy about a pose then you have the right to ask the photographer to stop and move on to something else. Also please, please, please do not try the images you see online yourselves. As you see from above, they are not what they seem and you could be putting your baby at risk of a serious injury or even worse.
What makes me an expert? I have been trained in the Art of Newborn Photography by one of the countries leading photographers. I have also undertaken various other courses over the past few years and I have many years of childcare experience as well as various child care qualifications. I am also a Mum to three beautiful boys, I know how precious these babies are and how important it is to keep them safe.
Kelly Hermitage is a specialist Newborn Art and Children’s portrait photographer based in Burton Latimer, Near Kettering, Northamptonshire. If you would like to find out more about my sessions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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