Newborn photography is an adorable and growing field. Dr. Samelak is excited to host Uzma Hamid, certified infant photographer, as a guest blogger. In her post, Uzma shares a couple of the technical and (more important) safety considerations that must be taken into account when photographing newborns and infants. We hope that you gain some valuable knowledge in this blog and that you share it with your friends and families!
Please read on to learn more about Safety and Newborn Photography!
It is an honor to be chosen (read: trusted) to photograph a little new human who, almost always, is the center of many people’s universes. One very major aspect of that “trust” is ensuring the safety of the baby during the session. Like I frequently say, photos are treasures, but no photo is worth risking the safety of a human, let alone, the littlest one.
Unfortunately, newborn photographers are not required to complete any form of training or education before they are deemed qualified to photograph babies. This is especially relevant in case of styled newborn sessions, where babies are posed in those cute, squishy little poses.
This is not to say that such education, training and certifications are not available. Many photographers -who care enough – do enroll in, complete and maintain these certifications. This should be the norm; but unfortunately, such photographers are still a bleak minority.
For instance, the photo in this post is a composite (read: digitally created) image of three separate photographs: first, of just the hot-air balloon prop, without placing the baby in it; the second and the third, of just the baby in the basket with the ball (serving as the balloon) removed and the baby’s head carefully supported.
A newborn baby cannot support his/her own head. Hence, poses such as “the froggy” or “the potato- sack” require specific skills, know-how and expertise. A different kind of skill and caution is required when props are used. If older siblings are participating in the session (and why shouldn’t they?), there is an extra layer of care that is desired.
Needless to say, other basic precautions are always required to make the space safe, which includes not only ensuring safe handling of the baby, and safe handling of
photography equipment around the baby, but also other environmental factors, such as, temperature, humidity, air quality, and hygiene.
There is a lot that goes into photographing a newborn, other than the act of photography itself.
Being mindful of a newborn’s physiology, reflexes, sensitivities (such as the umbilical cord if it is still attached, and the belly-button site if it has fallen off; the site of circumcision if one is performed; etc.), and watching out for signs of distress are just a few to name. Take a baby’s immature circulatory system for instance.
Cyanosis is defined as a bluish discoloration, especially of the skin and mucous membranes, due to excessive concentration of deoxyhemoglobin in the blood caused by deoxygenation. Acrocyanosis refers to blueness in the hands and feet. It is marked by a mottled blue or red discoloration of the skin on the fingers and wrists and the toes and ankles. Central cyanosis is referred to as bluish discoloration around the core, lips and tongue and can be quite a bit more dangerous. Certain poses, if not performed
correctly, can cause a risk of cyanosis. For example, chest compression due to tight wrapping, leaving a baby unsupported in a position for too long, closing off the airway as can sometimes result from leaning the chin, or the area under the jaw on the edge of a prop or by positioning babies upright without supporting the weight of the head, thus leaving the head to rest on and compress into the wrists/hands.
This piece is not meant to scare anyone; rather to educate and inform. It is coming from a place of love.
Parents, please choose a photographer for your precious little one not only on the basis of the pretty photographs that you see in their portfolios; but after interviewing them and asking them how they intend to create any specific shots you (or they) may want. Also, do your own research. Professional organizations like the American Association of Newborn Photography Safety (AANPS) and Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International (APNPI) not only train and certify newborn photographers, but also host public lists of certified photographers by location. Check their online directories to find trained and certified photographers near you.
And always trust your parental instinct.
If there are any questions that I can answer for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Uzma M. Hamid wears two professional hats: one, that of a maternity, newborn and family photographer; and two, a residential real-estate broker. She lives in Kirkland, WA, with her loving husband and adorable son, and serves families in the Puget Sound Area with their photography and real estate needs. As you might have guessed, she is an AANPS- and APNPI-certified newborn photographer, and can be reached at: