When I’m not a photographer, I’m a mother first and foremost. I have two boys who I love and adore more than life itself. I had a great passion for children before I became a mother and once I became a mother, that passion only increased by leaps and bounds. Maybe it’s my type A personality, my over paranoia, or just who I am, but I do think about every scenario possible when it comes to children. I think about that corner in my house that I used to hit all the time and how much more careful I’ll need to be if I’ve got a baby in my arms. I think about their developing muscles and head control (or lack thereof) and make sure I never bare my teeth while holding them chest to chest in the event that precious little head comes slamming towards my mouth (I “soften the blow” with my lips is the best way I can put it). Whenever I’m anywhere with my kids or other kids, I scan the surroundings and take in the possible scenarios that could happen based on the play structures, or what have you. I’m always thinking two and three steps ahead. These are some of the incredibly ridiculous thoughts that cross my mind as a mother, a parent and someone greatly passionate about children and being a voice and advocate for their innocence.
As a newborn photographer, parents entrust me with their new bundles of joy and I am truly honored and humbled to be allowed such an opportunity. I provide all my newborn clients with a list to help prepare them for our session together and we speak ahead of time so they’re more familiar with me and vice versa. I tell all my clients that I don’t promise certain poses and ask them if there are specific poses that do make them uncomfortable. I tell parents I work with what their baby gives me. If baby is awake, we take the photos that we can and I stay my patient self and wait it out. If baby needs to be soothed, or comforted, I will do so. Once baby is completely asleep, I’m able to capture those wonderful sleepy baby poses. Some of them involve baby being curled up as they were so used to doing in utero, others involve being wrapped in great textured fabrics and yes, I’ve even done “the pose” with the baby’s head propped up on her hands and yes, I’ve even done the pose of baby in a sling.
I am an artist, but not at the cost of another life just to “get the shot”. I never force a pose. I use a huge posing bean bag with ample space for one, two or even three newborns. “The pose” I referenced above? That is done as a composite with the help of mom and/or dad and I piece together two, sometimes three photos together in my digital darkroom to achieve my desired results. Sure, some photographers are able to achieve this pose without doing a composite, but why risk it? Some newborns have better neck control than others, but a newborn cannot control if they suddenly are startled for whatever reason and fall out of a pose. I will not leave it up to my reflexes to “catch a baby”. This is not a delivery room, folks, and there will be no baby catching during a newborn session with me.
Baby in a sling? Yes, I too have done baby in a sling poses, but again, mom/dad are right there holding the sling and supporting baby. Baby is never more than an inch from the beanbag and again, mom/dad are supporting baby and baby is never lifted off the beanbag until I’m ready to shoot and you better believe baby is completely asleep. Babies are never in a sling for longer than a few minutes and their faces are never covered, so they can breathe as freely as possible and their little bodies are never folded “in half” which could cause horrible suffocation.
Why am I writing this article? I chose to do so because there has been a recent viral outbreak of photographs of newborns in extremely scary and dangerous positions and I believe that as a photographer, it is my job to help educate you, the parents/consumer, and also, you, the photographer. Parents need to be armed with information to select the best photographer for their newborn who will keep their child’s safety a top priority. Trends and fads come and go, but new life is worth so much more than a photo to be “oohhhhed” and “ahhhhhed” over. Parents need to be aware that some of these poses are be done as composites for the protection of your newborn.
Photographers, it is so easy to fall in love with “newborn photography” and think that anyone can recreate the poses one sees. This is extremely unfortunate for the baby, the parents and the reputation of a photographer as a finished product does not always tell the story of what it took to create that image. As easy as it is for anyone to pick up a DSLR and call themselves a photographer, we must remember that a newborn is a new life and someone’s baby. A newborn is not a prop for a photographer to see who can push the limits and outdo another photographer’s recent session. The greatest newborn photographers put much time, effort and preparation into each newborn session. They have spent a great deal of time learning and continually improving their technique, both with the camera as well as with handling a delicate new baby. Please educate yourself before practicing on a newborn baby. Know how to safely position babies, how to soothe/comfort, how to have vast amounts of patience and quite frankly, know what NOT to do with babies.
There is still so much on my mind regarding this topic right now, but I think I shall save those thoughts for a subsequent article and go into more detail for those wishing to learn more about newborn photography. I want to leave both consumers and photographers with this last little bit here. As a member of the Professional Photographers of America, I adhere to the Code of Ethics listed below:
I, as a requirement for the admission to and retention of membership and participation in the Professional Photographers of America, Inc., agree to strive at all times to upgrade and improve my knowledge and skill of professional photography, marketing and related areas.
In all my dealings with users of photography and the general public, I will:
1. Strive to present all photographic services in surroundings and in a manner which reflects the highest levels of professionalism.
2. Use the highest levels of honesty, professionalism and integrity.
3. Not use any marketing or competitive practice which violates any Federal Trade Commission, or other Federal or State regulatory agency rule or regulation, or Federal of State Court;
4. In all dealings with fellow professional photographers, students and others who aspire to be professional photographers, I shall share the knowledge and skill of professional photography.
5. Support efforts for and assist in the general public in the art and science of professional photography.
Consumers, do your part to seek out a photographer who displays honesty, professionalism and integrity. Photographers, do your part to represent our community by upholding the highest levels of professionalism in all aspects of your business. Below is a visual of how I achieve “the pose”. This is certainly not done in camera for the safety of each and every newborn I get the opportunity to work with.
Huong Forrest Photography is the passion, vision and dream of one Reno photographer, Huong Forrest. I specialize in newborn photography and have a great passion for capturing Reno's tiniest new residents. I also adore capturing the innocence of babies and children, the love and passion of a newlywed couple and their wedding and I greatly enjoy revealing the beauty, confidence and fierceness of your everyday woman.
I am a proud member of the Professional Photographers of America and The Chamber of Commerce. When I'm not with my clients, you will find me running around with my two adorable sons, giving back where I can in several photography forums and blogging about business, photography and motherhood.
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