If you are familiar at all with newborn photos, you know that they can be super cute. I know that is what attracted me so many years ago when I began thinking about becoming a newborn photographer. There are a few things, however, that I wish people had pointed out to me early on. It would have made things a bit easier for me. So here, I am going to tell you those things. I hope that these insights from a working Los Angeles newborn photographer help you in your endeavor. This is Part One of a series. Here, I talk about newborn safety.
Getting Started in Newborn Photography: Safety
Before you even think about grabbing a camera and snapping photos, the first thing you need to do is learn as much as you can about newborn photography safety. When you see adorable newborn pictures, what you are looking at, if it is done safely, is an image that has been heavily produced after the fact. In other words, the image you see and the one that was originally taken by the camera are two very different things. There are a few different ways you can learn about newborn photography safety.
Kelly Brown Kelly Brown is one of about 4 or 5 world renowned newborn photographers. She offers a free class that covers the very basics in newborn safety. This class is a start, but it is NOT enough. She also offers extensive training on the 9 or 10 common newborn poses. Safety for each pose is included. I cannot emphasize how critical it is that you watch, listen and observe from Kelly Brown. In my opinion, she is the best there is. She is conservative, meaning there are certain poses she won’t do, and she is so careful while handling newborns. This is not true with many of the videos on newborn posing on YouTube, where the baby is jiggled and jolted around like a rag doll. These kinds of photographers are not the ones you want to emulated yourself after. The other great thing about Kelly Brown is, she does NOT use an assistant. So if you are new to the field and do not have money to pay someone, Kelly shows you that it is possible to do newborn posing alone. It is very difficult, but it is possible.
Julia Kelleher Julia Kelleher is another of the world famous newborn photographers. She is an inspiration on many levels. She offers an extensive class on newborn posing that also talks a lot about safety. In her case, she works with an assistant. So you can see what a different experience it is to have a helper next to you. It can mean you are able to do more poses, or even more than one newborn session a day. She covers the same 9 or 10 basic poses that are the standard today.
American Association for Newborn Photography Safety As of this writing, there is no governmental or industry standard for what constitutes safe newborn posing. There are general guidelines based on experienced photographers and some pediatricians who have chimed in on the matter. However, there is a grass roots attempt to try and create some kind of minimum standard for newborn posing safety. That is what this organization is trying to do. It is operated by a couple of experienced newborn photographers and a pediatrician. They offer an online class you can take. You then pass an exam, and you get a certification. At the very least, it is an attempt to hold people accountable. And if you get certified, more parents will feel safer about using you.
Newborn Care Specialist Training I do not know if any other newborn photographers have completed newborn care training. But I did. I took the training online. This particular class is taught by an experienced newborn care specialist. For me, I learned so much about what newborns can do, how they behave, how to soothe them and so much more. The training is about 40 hours, and there is a ton of information. But it will help you feel more confident around newborns. It is one thing to have experience with your OWN kids, but when you are handling other peoples’ newborns, most of that goes out the window. Almost every bit of information in this class will help you be a better newborn photographer.
Observe an experienced photographer. Nothing comes close to observing one or more experienced newborn photographers. By experienced, I mean someone who has at least 150 successful newborn sessions under their belt. Fewer that this, in my opinion, is not experienced enough. When I was training, I went and worked with 4 or 5 different newborn photographers. Some I mentored with online, others I went and spent 2 days or more and observed as many sessions as I could. I recommend clocking at least 10 hours observing experienced photographers, before you try photographing newborns on your own.
Before you can do anything about photographing newborns, you have to know a lot about them. You have to understand what their joints and muscles are able to do, how posing is done slowly and in stages and how to move safely from one pose to the next.
Katie is a newborn photographer at Panos Productions Photography. We create showpiece images for modern moms who want to remember everything they love about their kids, forever.