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Archive: ‘Editorial’



Newborn Safety

Monday, August 20th, 2012

I have been reading a lot lately about concerns in the newborn photography business.  It seems all of the usual online photography communities that I frequent, as well as some blogs of photographers I follow, seem to be talking about the same general topic over the last few months.  That concern is the safety of the cute little babies we all see in modern photography.

I have been told by young budding photographers that they look to me and my work for inspiration.  I’m also aware that, like any business, photography is competitive and sometimes photographers will try to emulate or ‘one up’ another one. Knowing this information, and knowing some techniques involved with newborn photography, I felt it little bit of an obligation to write this post.

Every photographer was a rookie.  Every photographer had to learn.  I don’t look down upon anyone who is starting out and trying to make it in this very tough, but rewarding, career choice.  Unfortunately however, is that all over the world rookie photographers are seeing inspiring work of other photographers, and aren’t aware of the risks involved in some of the poses, or even that some of the poses are compositions.  I hope that this blog post will shed some light on this, and help further develop the techniques and decisions of aspiring photographers, as well as remind parents that the babies are theirs, and as such they can refuse a pose they feel is unsafe.

I have to admit that I have personally steered away from most newborn photography (or any photography in general) that focuses heavily on props and backdrops.  I prefer to focus on lifestyle photographs of children as I believe them to be much more natural, as well as historically they are the most cherished as the child grows older.

This is a personal taste and evolution of mine, and I’m aware that other photographers love unique props and poses, and many parents do as well.  That is why the business for this sort of photography exists.  I have in the past used some of these techniques, and those I haven’t used I am aware of and have watched others do them.  So, let’s talk about some of them!

1.  Hanging Out!

Guilty!  I’m guilty of this!  Yes, I admit, I own a sling, and I have used it on a number of occasions, including photographing my own child.  Here is a sample photo:

 

 

What scares me is a lot of people will see this, and the thousands of photos like it, and will try to emulate it without knowing what goes into making this photo.

You see, this cute little guy (my son) is about 2 or three inches above a large cushion.  He is being held up by two people assisting me, as well as his mother being immediately next to him.  In fact, the parents are so close in these images that I photoshop them out.  In addition to this, I shoot these with a lens that allows me to be close as well for extra safety measures.  Oh, and I should also mention that the studio was very warm.  Us adults have to suffer the heat, but newborns can’t regulate their temperature as well as we can, and therefore adjusting the temperature is also important.

In addition to this sling photo, I have seen other photographers post photographs of babies tied to a branch and hanging in some sort of sling or scarf.  I can’t stress this next point enough, these photographs are meant to be composites.  In other words, they are NOT an actual baby hanging from a branch, but rather a safe photo of a baby, a safe photo of a branch, and the two are combined in photoshop afterwards.

A great example of this can be found on the great blog “Take Off Your Mommy Goggles” http://www.takeoffyourmommygoggles.com/2011/02/04/hanging-babies/

 

2.  Amazing Balance!

I personally haven’t really done much photography like what I’m about to talk about, but I want to talk about it as if it is done incorrectly, it could be disastrous!

Another trend in newborn photography is to balance your baby on your guitar (or something else mommy or daddy is passionate about!).  You see, to the untrained eye this is just as simple as laying the baby on the guitar right?  Wrong.

This sort of photograph is a composite shot.  ”J. Otte Photography” does a great job of showing how this is done, and how it is done safely! http://jodieotte.com/?p=632

 

3. Composites, Composites, Composites!

So, we have already established that those photos of babies “hanging” are often composites or photoshop magic.  As are photographs of babies that seem to have super human balancing skills…they too are composites.  There are however other sorts of photos that may surprise the average person or the aspiring photographer.

You know those poses with the newborn having his or her little head propped up on their arms?  Composite

What about when they are just positioned perfectly in that basket? Composite

You never ever force a baby into a position.  As newborns are top heavy, and usually sleeping, you either photograph them in their natural state, or you make a composite photo.

Some of the best samples of this that I have seen online are here at this site hilariously called “Baby Rabies

 

4. Other Things to Consider

In addition to the composite magic that goes into these photographs, there are still safety concerns that aspiring photographers and parents need to consider.

  • Baby’s Comfort is #1: As soon as the baby shows sign of being uncomfortable.  Stop immediately.  Even standard poses may be uncomfortable for a baby as their circulation may be cut off after laying on one side etc…
  • Take you time:  ’Mini sessions’ are a terrible idea for newborn photography.  Make sure your professional photographer offers a session that will have enough time so you can operate on your babies schedule, and not that of the photographer.
  • Have Priorities:  Make sure the safety of your little bundle of joy takes priority over any photograph.
  • Go with your gut:  If you feel something is unsafe, or if you aren’t comfortable with a pose/idea, speak up!
  • Say No to Glass:  Never put your child in a glass vase, dish, or bowl.  Microscopic cracks in the glass could seriously harm your child.  If you must have this sort of photo, make sure it is a composite
  • Remember the Composites: Remember that almost all photos of a baby hanging in, or laying on something is supposed to be a composite photo.  As a photographer, make sure your photoshop skills are at a level where this is possible.  As a parent, ask questions about how photos were created before arriving to your session.
  • Never leave a baby unattended
  • Keep heavy or loose materials away from a baby’s face.  This is a suffocation hazard.
  • Professional Photographers have insurance.  If you are aspiring to become a pro, make sure you have insurance as well!

 

A few samples of my recent newborn photos

The father holding the baby is sitting down. The baby is laying across his lap. We placed black fabric on his legs and chest to help with the final photoshopping of the image.

 

Despite the image looking as if the baby is being held up vertically, she isn't. Again, her father is holding her in his lap, while I change my perspective by photographing the child from above.


This child seems to be sitting in a tree. NEVER actually try to sit a child in a tree, or anywhere else unsafe for that matter. In this photo, the child is being held on firmly by a family member who is on the other side of the tree.


This photo I took years ago seems to show a string of illuminated Christmas lights placed on the child. The lights in this photo are photoshopped to look illuminated. It isn't safe to place live wires across a baby!

 

 

 

 



Feeding the Ducks

Monday, May 28th, 2012

So it appears the handful of ducks that set up shop in Grand Bank brook over the past couple of years are starting to really feel at home.  Not only are there about a dozen of them swimming around avoiding seagulls all day, but this afternoon I noticed a bunch of little ducklings  swimming behind mommy duck!  I decided that when my wife got off work, we would pick up our son from the sitter and bring him to feed the ducks (gucks as he calls it), and take a few photos.  Turns out when we got there at around 5:30PM, the ducklings were nowhere in sight, but we still had an enjoyable time.

I think having some wildlife around town is a great thing, especially with small children.  With this however comes a responsibility to those in the community to protect these animals.  Everyone knows that touching or intentionally hurting the ducks is a no-no, but most people don’t know that feeding ducks bread is actually a bad idea too!  I had no idea that bread was bad for ducks either until I spent a few years living next to Bowing Park in St. John’s.  The corner store near our house had information posted explaining how bread will make the animals feel full, and therefore the ducks won’t eat properly.  This of course leads to all kinds of problems.  The information sheet said that people should instead feed the ducks non salted/non buttery popcorn!  So the next time you want to go and feed the ducks, take along some Orville Redenbacher!  Or well..Our Compliments even.  I don’t think the ducks will mind what brand it is :)

 

 

 

 

And to conclude…this little pictorial wouldn’t be complete without the type of bird with the most seniority in Grand Bank Brook.  The seagull.

 

 

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