Follow me on Pinterest
xoxo Kelsey Las Vegas Photographer
In recent months newborn safety has become an important issue in the newborn portraiture industry. With many new photographers breaking into the market, it is imperative that we educate ourselves on what is acceptable and safe (and not so safe) when it comes to working with these teeny tiny subjects. There are many precautions one can take to ensure that baby is safe at all times.
1. Always have a spotter present, either parent or an assistant, when attempting more complicated poses. It is especially important to have a spotter present when working with newborns propped up in props such as bowls, baskets, etc. Newborns have spontaneous reflexes and it only takes one quick jerk or startle for a newborn to push itself out of your prop.
2. When you are posing newborns in unsteady or lightweight baskets, bowls or buckets it is important to have something to weigh down the prop so that it doesn’t topple over with baby inside. In my studio I use 5 pounds ankle/hand weights to weigh props down and balance it all out. If you are on location and don’t have your weights with you, try cans of food or ask your clients if they have small hand weights.
3. Get comfortable with composites. Many trendy newborn poses are not as they seem. They are achieved by merging two images together in post processing. The chin in hands pose should always be done as a composite to keep baby safe. You will need an assistant or parent to complete this pose safely.
Here is a quick tutorial on how to merge your images together in Photoshop.
2. Right click on the selected area and select “Layer via Copy”.
3. A new layer of that selection will appear in your layers palette.
4. Drag that layer onto the second image.
5. Next, line up your images. It helps to reduce the opacity of the top layer to best see where things line up. Focus on lining up the nose, lips and eyes.
6. Then use a soft eraser brush to erase around the chin and hands to eliminate your assistant’s hand. You many need to make slight adjustments and use your clone tool to make everything look just right.
7. Once you have everything lined up, flatten your image.
8. Finally, crop and finish editing.
4. If you are having trouble balancing your tiny subject, go ahead and have your assistant or parent use their finger to balance baby. You can quickly and easily edit out their hand/finger in post processing.
5. If you are confident enough in your newborn skills to use a hanging newborn sling or something similar please remember these poses ALWAYS require an assistant. Never actually suspend baby and always have a beanbag directly under your newborn. If you are not comfortable with this pose or do not know how to edit the final product then don’t try it without first educating yourself.
First, untie the knot and lay your sling open on a beanbag. Lay baby in the sling and position them while on the beanbag, either on their tummies or on their side. I suggest positioning baby on their bellies with feet tucked/folded under and their arms folded under their chin. The trick is to have one arm slightly outside of the sling resting on the support bar and the other arm inside of the sling. Position baby more towards one side of the sling than the other so that you can use the side of your sling to support the baby’s head and keep it snugly inside the sling. Once baby is positioned nicely bring up the sides of the sling and gather them where you will tie the knot. It is important to gather more from the back of the sling so it does not sag down from baby’s weight. Keep a tight grip on the fabric and lift the sling a couple of times to make sure the position will hold. Do this several times before actually lifting baby to ensure baby is snug and safe inside the sling. Once you are sure baby is snug tie one knot where you have gathered your fabric without losing any slack (if this is difficult have your assistant or the parent help you). Once the knot is tied have your assistant slowly lift the baby a few inches above your beanbag with one hand under their bottom and one hand under baby’s chest. The baby is never actually hanging, the assistant or parent is the one supporting baby. The baby’s safety is your first priority so please never lift baby too high above beanbag – you should be able to see the beanbag in your shot. Tie your sling to a port-a-stand or have a second person hold the top of the sling up.
Bottom line baby’s safety should always remain the number one priority. Never compromise baby’s safety just to get the shot. If you are new to newborn portraiture then start out with simple poses. Once you are more comfortable with posing and getting to know newborn cues then work your way into the more difficult poses. If you are attempting a pose and baby seems to be uncomfortable, by all means, move on. Every baby is different and it is important to read their cues and know when to stop and move onto something else.
Keri Meyers Photography
Seattle Newborn, Baby and Family Photographer