As a specialist newborn photographer, I am urging all new mums in South Yorkshire to be aware of photographers who are attempting to produce arty, creative, newborn baby shots without following appropriate techniques and safety procedures.
This issue comes after two new mums were left horrified by photo-shoots where one baby rolled off the posing stand and another baby’s delicate head was allowed to drop in an attempt to create a head-in-hands pose.
I trained in the safe working aspect of Newborn Photography for over three years - and I know that these poses should only be created using edited composite shots.
Specialist newborn sessions can last anywhere between two and four hours. The rooms are temperature controlled and baby safety is the main focus of all our newborn sessions, using parents as “spotters” where required to support the baby. Sadly, there are photographers who do not use the right techniques or have not had training, and because there is a lack of awareness on how these images are created, parents see them, request them, and are none the wiser about what is right or wrong, or whether the baby is safe. Babies are being put at risk and I am keen to raise local awareness about the issue. No one is able to monitor the entire photography population, but we can reduce the problem by making parents aware and putting them in control of the situation. If you as a parent aren’t happy with something - you have a voice.
Parents in the UK are generating the demand for these pictures which came from America and led to the UK Market being flooded with photographers offering the service, with the likes of Pinterest and Flickr have added further to the demand.
I am a member of the Baby and Newborn Photography Association (BANPAS) - Helen McGlynn, co-owner of BANPAS, said recent reports illustrate not only the bad practises of some photographers, but a major lack of awareness amongst parents about how these photographs are created when done properly.
“Sadly we think this is the tip of the iceberg - newborn and new baby photography has exploded in this country in recent years, and so there are many stunning photographs of babies in sleepy poses in baskets, on suitcases or swings – all of which have been taken very safely, as two or three shots and created as a composite image,” she said.
“The problem is parents see these photos and ask for them, not knowing how they’ve been created. At that point mums and dads, who are usually exhausted with very young baby, are totally relying on the photographer to know what they are doing and to have had the right training. Sadly that is often not the case.”
Emma Canham, co-owner of BANPAS often receives messages from concerned members of the public and photographers, with links to images of newborn babies in what appear to be worrying and/or unsafe poses.
“It’s a major problem,” she said. “We see images that show babies feet and legs are purple from where the blood supply is being restricted due to the pose or being left to get cold. We see photos where babies have clearly been left to balance in an unsupported pose, potentially restricting their airways or putting pressure on their delicate joints.
“And we see shots where babies do not appear to be relaxed, happy and at peace. In some cases, it’s clear that the baby is in a very uncomfortable position.
“Sadly, we are unable to monitor what people are doing at home or police the newborn photography industry, there are no regulations or health and safety laws specific to this genre of photography.
“We are determined to raise the profile of this issue and educate the public and the photographic community - working with, photographing and posing newborn babies requires skill, patience and safety awareness, which are the core values of our organisation.”
BANPAS requests documentary evidence from photographers that they have business insurance in place and for visual before and after composite image examples that they are working safely with newborn babies.
BANPAS spends time looking at a photographer's portfolio to see the kind of poses they are regularly photographing.
And parents - It is okay to ask to stop the session if your baby looks uncomfortable or you are concerned that your baby is being left to 'balance'. If you are not happy - speak up!
All photographers listed on the BANPAS member directory have satisfied Helen & Emma that they are capable of working safely and have business insurance in place.