Having a newborn is an exciting time in your life and you only get one chance to experience those fleeting moments in their early lives.  Picking the right photographer is key to preserving these memories. We have some helpful tips to help you sort through all the many factors that may be weighing on your mind.

At APNPI, we encourage you to, first and foremost, think about the safety of your baby at the session.  Currently NO REGULATIONS are in place for safe handling of babies at photography sessions and photographers can self-claim safety expertise.  The APNPI is addressing this critical issue by providing safety education to all of its members.

The following is a list of questions to keep in mind that will help you choose a conscientious and skilled photographer who will have the safety and well being of your baby as priority.

How many years in business and approximately how many babies has the photographer handled up to this point?

APNPI members who have achieved their QNP (Qualified Newborn Photographer) Certification have had 2 years experience and have handled approximately 50 babies or more in this time period.  It takes time to learn to respond to a newborn’s physiologic needs and reflexes.  The more time a photographer has spent handling newborns, the more likely they are to be able to respond to these needs and reflexes in a timely and appropriate manner.

Specific Newborn Posing training and with whom did they train?

Knowing not only that your photographer has trained extensively to learn the ins and outs of their craft is highly important but just as important is understanding where the information has come from. While online learning can be great, training in person is crucial to developing a complete understanding of posing methodology. Lastly, knowing who they have trained under allows you to look up the source of the information they have received. As our profession is not regulated, any person, photographer or otherwise, can offer newborn posing training with no safety creditials necessary.

What are the safety practices you have in place in your studio specifically geared towards the newborn client?

Here you will get to see the depth of the photographers understanding for the needs of the newborn.  A safety conscious photographer will be able to easily identify a variety of safety practices, everything from tripping hazards to the proper studio temperature and humidity. Posing surfaces should be an adequate size to prevent accidents, biomechanical supports should be in place to lessen the chance of ergonomic injuries, wooden backgrounds should be secured to avoid tipping and falls. These practices are extensive and we encourage our APNPI photographers to be as transparent as possible to their clientele.

Will my newborn be supported by human hands in all upright positions as well as any poses requiring suspension?

If you are like many parents and interested in trendy poses including suspended stork inspired imagery or potato sack poses, you will want to know that your newborn will be handled by human hands at ALL TIMES throughout the pose. At APNPI, our photographers are trained in the art of creating composite imagery and educated in the appropriate support needs of newborns. Our goal is to minimize the risk of falls or positional asphyxiation – two very dangerous scenarios.

Do you work with an assistant or provide spotters at your newborn sessions? Or will you allow me to spot my baby during a session?

Most photographers do not work with assistants in studio. When possible, a trained assistant can be a valuable asset at your session. A second set of hands are critical for many poses (especially those performed in props) and a trained assistant can provide an added level of safety with appropriate spotting and aid in the session flow by helping to settle babe throughout posing. When an assistant is not present, it is entirely appropriate that parents participate in the session assisting with the posing of their baby. Parents, especially mothers, should never be asked to stay further away from babe as is sometimes requested due to the idea that the smell of mother’s milk will cause the baby to become unsettled. Should the baby show signs of hunger such as the rooting that can occur when they sense and smell their mother, they should be given appropriate time to feed. A satisfied baby will not be unsettled due to the smell of milk. Our APNPI photographers are educated to always encourage parents to participate whenever there is the desire.

What will happen in the case of illness, your own or otherwise?

Many photographers are parents themselves and are exposed to a variety of germs from their own wonderous children. In the event a photographer’s child or the photographer themselves becomes ill prior to the session, they should be cleared by a medical professional prior to conducting the session.  Where and when illness may delay your session beyond an appropriate newborn timeline, we encourage photographers to work in teams, and have quality referrals for you to consider.  For posed newborn work, your session is time sensitive and is best completed sometime within the first two to three weeks of life. However, a skilled photographer can still provide you with a beautiful gallery of images beyond this optimal time frame, and so we encourage both parents and photographers alike to be patient and keep health and wellness of infants as top priority.

Are you up to date with vaccinations against pertussis and the flu?

Pertussis (whooping cough) and the flu can be deadly to newborn babies and unlike medical professionals, photographers are not required to be vaccinated.  If you are concerned about having your baby handled by vaccinated individuals, then this is certainly a question to ask your photographer and photographer’s assistant ahead of time.

Believe it or not, from conception, your baby has beat the odds in making it into your arms healthy and happy. They are tiny miracles of life and love and hold generations of hope in their sweet little body. They have been through the trauma of birth and are resting safely in your arms with love and reassurance. Please make sure that whomever you choose as your photographer respects the miracle of your baby and takes every precaution during your time together.  APNPI does its best to educate photographers but at the end of the day, because there is no government regulations in safety with newborns and photographers, it is ultimately up to parents to be aware and advocate for themselves and their babies.