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How to photograph your clients wrapped in Christmas lights (or not!)

Written by: Rachel Brenke – The Law Tog


You don’t.

Yes, I know that they can be super cute – and it is okay for you to do to yourself but for a client? There may come a time that you want to draw the line in the faux snow covering your studio floor.  Some actions are not worth the liability-ridden factor that comes along with them.

Since Pinterest has come around it has brought a lot of photography trends that many of us wish would..just..die. Right?

But that is okay.

Sometimes giving a little for the client is OK….but here’s some friendly legal advice. NOT WHEN IT HAS A RISK TO IT.

In fact, while I was researching for this article I stumbled across this article showcasing this light-wrapping phenomena, by one of my favorite blogs no less! The more I looked at the images though, I realized something. Wrapping yourself in lights may be dangerous – burns, lead, electrocution, but if you want to do it to yourself – by all means.

But for clients? We need to be a bit more professional and vigilant on protecting our businesses than jumping on board the Pinterest-photography-idea-wagon.

So I’m not here to slam this idea -if you want you can read about the dangers of wrapping clients in lights go here – I’m actually writing to shed light on potential liability ridden requests by clients and give a how-to on handling client requests that may be out of your comfort zone.


Here’s my advice in a nutshell – (scroll down to get the longer answer to each)

  • You don’t have to take every client or request that comes your way
  • Protect yourself against liability
  • Always carry liability insurance
  • Be knowledgeable


How to handle client requests


Guess what? You’re the business owner.  You don’t have to do any request simply because it is requested.

True story.  Nix that fear of having a client go the other direction and think – if my gut says no, then there is a reason.  This can be the Christmas lights wrapped up, train tracks, or just merely an aesthetic choice that you aren’t into.

The key is to successfully turn someone away without making them feel alienated but protecting your business.

Key actions can include:

  • Refer them out – “Unfortunately that isn’t a request that I can handle at this time, but I have a great referral for you” (but make sure you ask the referring photographer if they would be comfortable too!)
  • Offer an alternative – How about we try X – I think we could really come together to create a great session getting close to that result as possible.
  • Simply say no – If you are uncomfortable you don’t have to do it. “I’m sorry but I don’t feel comfortable with that idea. I would still love to be your photographer though!”

It is best to sit down and figure up ahead of time what your response will be so you aren’t caught off guard and/or feel pressured to do something you’re not into.


How can I protect myself against liability?


Again – you’re the business owner – so if you WANT to take on these requests just make sure you’ve put some protections around you.  In fact, this liability protection list is for every photography business owner.  In no particular order.

  • Contract – Always have a contract in place outlining all of your policies and an indemnification policy.
  • Carry liability insurance – Carry the proper liability insurance.  There are a broad range of insurances that every professional should have, liability is just one piece of it.  In fact, many wedding venues and locations will not allow shooting without proof of such insurance.  (Companies include PPA, HartfordHiscox – I don’t endorse any of these over the other – merely providing the information for you to research on your own. Always look at the policy provisions!)
  • Business Formation – Set your business up separate from your personal assets (such as an LLC or Corporation).
  • Think before you act!  Always make sure the surrounding environment is safe, you have informed your clients of all the requisite safety measures and are vigilant during (and immediately surrounding) the session.

If you absolutely must or want to engage in risk-taking behavior with clients make sure you sign a Release of Liability Waiver


This article was originally published Dec 4, 2014 by Rachel Brenke, The Law Tog.


TheLawTog® is the legal resource for photographers. This site currently helps photographers all over the world understand and protect the legalities of their business! Please check the specific category for country specific product/article.

photography contracts

Featured Photographer : Lynn Puzzo

Located in Rapid City, SD USA



Name: Lynn Puzzo

Representing: Lynn Puzzo Photography

# of Years Experience: 18

Their safety is SO important! Do NOT try posing a baby in a position that you are unsure how to obtain.

Tell us about yourself. What do you love doing in your spare time? What inspired you to newborn photography and do you photograph other genre’s in your business?

Like many other photographers, I have always loved photography. I got my first camera when I was ten! That being said, having my own photography business was never a dream, actually. I had worked in some retail photography chains, and then in another studio as a wedding photographer. After several years of shooting weddings, I was finding myself missing photographing little people. We had some friends who had recently had babies, and I had them come over for sessions – and QUICKLY realized that babies were what I wanted to do! I always wish I had portraits like I take for my clients of my own babies – and that definitely inspires me. I don’t ever want anyone to feel like they missed out on something so important like I do!! (In my defense, newborn photography was not what it is today when my babies were babies!) I do photograph other genre’s when time allows – for instance, fall family portraits. But I do tend to stick mostly to newborns. Nothing better than snuggling a new baby, am I right?!

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting a newborn photography business?

First… Practice, practice, and practice. And when you think you have practiced enough, keep practicing!!! Babies are fragile little creatures, and they need you to be perfect when handling them. Their safety is SO important! Do NOT try posing a baby in a position that you are unsure how to obtain.

Second… PATIENCE! So much patience is required for this business. There is absolutely no way to control a baby. You never know if you are going to get a baby who sleeps so well you are able to get your entire session completed in an hour and a half – or if you are going to have a baby who’s wide awake and wants to party with you for 4-5 hours!

Third… you really, and I mean REALLY need to LOVE babies. Yeah, everyone thinks babies are cute. But when they are pooping and peeing on you – its not always that cute 😉 But you have to be able to see past that and roll with the punches! If you don’t LOVE this I would imagine it would be super easy to get frustrated and burned out really easily.

What camera do you use? What are your favourite lenses and what’s typically in your camera bag?

I shoot with a Nikon D610 – and my 50mm lens hardly ever leaves my camera – unless its for a 35mm! 😉

What is your favorite place to hold sessions and why?  Where do you photograph most of your sessions? (in studio? on location?)

All of my newborn sessions are held in my studio, where my clients and I have full access to my excessive prop-buying habit 😉

What (if any) photography training, mentoring or workshops have you taken?

I have attended the Living Dreams workshop, Son Kissed Photography workshop, and have attended the 2016 Baby Summit.

What should clients expect when working with you?

Each of my sessions is completely styled along with my clients to their own personal taste prior to their session. Once they arrive in the studio with their baby, I just want them to be able to sit back and relax, and enjoy the session! I handle everything except feeding ;), so for many moms it is their first time with their arms free since they had their baby! I encourage them to bring things to keep them busy – such as a book, tablet – or those thank you cards they haven’t been able to get out since baby arrived! My studio is always stocked with snacks and drinks as well to keep them comfortable!

Find out more about this photographer at:

Session Spotlight: Golden Hour Nursing Session

This is... hands down.... the most beautiful image I have ever taken.

This amazing session was this beautiful mom’s idea.  I love when clients push me out of the box!!

This session was rescheduled 4 times because of weather!  What a wet summer we had.  It was totally worth the wait.  From the beautiful fresh floral crowns to the epic light, this session will always be one of my favourites and one that I feel very proud of.

I am a STRONG supporter of breastfeeding and this session filled my heart and soul.

I love her little bum in this image <3

mamas perspective <3


Session by: Azure Photography

I am a professional newborn photographer in Guelph, ON. I mainly focus on newborns but also enjoy photographing maternity, sitters and cake smash sessions!
I have had a camera in my hand since I was 18 years old. I learned a lot about exposure and colour working the lab at Black’s Photography in my home town and locally in Guelph.
Photographing newborns and babies and anything connected to those is my passion.


Find out more about this photographer at:

APNPI Profile



Featured Photographer : Shelly Ferguson

Located in Oshawa, ON Canada

Name: Shelly Ferguson

Representing: Shelly Ferguson Photography

I love being able to create images that are little different than the norm while still staying true to what speaks to me the most, which is simplicity; the creation of art out of little more that just my subject. I was very inspired with this piece to create a more conceptual style of fine art representing the baby in the womb.

Learn about business if you want to get into business, not just photography.

How would you describe your photography style? What inspires your work?

I would describe my work as simple, natural, minimalist, artistic. I am very inspired in life by the beauty of simplicity. I see the beauty in the most basic of things and truly feel like art can be created with a minimalist concept in mind.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting a newborn photography business?

I actually have two pieces of advice…one is learn about business if you want to get into business, not just photography. My second bit of advice from the creative stand point would be to take the time and experiment with different genres/styles. You will never now what you are inspired to create until you try. You can love looking at many genres (I do!) but when it comes to creating, you will only know what is right for you once you experience it!

What camera do you use? What are your favourite lenses and what’s typically in your camera bag?

I use a Nikon D4 and typically my 35 mm or 50 mm lens (both 1.4) plus a macro lens (60 mm) I have tried other lenses and honestly just keep coming back to those basic ones – just like in my artwork, simplicity is best for me 🙂

What is your favorite place to hold sessions and why?  Where do you photograph most of your sessions? (in studio? on location?)

I do 95% of my sessions in my studio. I know how my space/light/equipment will work for me and what I am able to create in it. I have everything I need in my tiny little space to create my style of simple, minimalist work.

What should clients expect when working with you?

Clients should expect that I will do everything I can to create beautiful images of their baby in a simple, artistic, minimalist way. I do not use props or many accessories. I keep all the focus on their baby, showcasing their pure beauty. I will work with their baby awake or asleep, following their cues, keeping them as comfortable and relaxed as possible and capture the beauty of who they are at this amazing young age. I will also capture the beautiful, loving connection between the parents and baby (and siblings…including fur siblings!) I am not a lifestyle photographer per say, I do still put much thought into ‘posing’ but it is always done in a natural, minimalist, artistic way to give them memories to last a lifetime!

Another driving force in my vision is always trying to capture a loving connection between parent and baby, while still creating an artistically visual piece of art.

I try to make a conscious effort to include any artwork that my client has thoughtfully taken the time to add to their own body; it helps tell their personal unique story.

This image pretty much embodies my whole purpose in creating newborn's simply about their beautiful baby, so fresh, so tiny, so perfect. This simplicity can still make a strong artistic statement by keeping in mind the elements of art (light/shadow/space/composition etc...)

Newborns come with their own personalities right from the beginning and I feel it is so important to capture images like this so that parents can remember everything about their babies, not just the perfectly posed sleeping images.

Find out more about this photographer at:

APNPI Profile




Featured Photographer : Lizzie Gilmour

Located in New Plymouth, TK New Zealand

Name: Lizzie Gilmour

Representing: Lizzie Gilmour Photography


Naturally posed in a wooden bowl.

“Babies are people not props. Make sure to put their well being and safety above everything else.”

Tell us a bit about yourself.  What do you love doing in your spare time?  What inspired you to newborn photography and do you photograph other genre’s in your business?
I grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Piopio, New Zealand. I did very well in the Arts, particulary painting and was meant to head off to Art school once I graduated, but put it on hold for a year to represent New Zealand at hockey and work on the family farm. I then met my now husband and went to live with him in Scotland and the Netherlands. I got my first SLR in The Netherlands and I loved it. Once we moved home to Taranaki and had our first baby, I realised exactly what I wanted to do! bAlthough I did dabble in a bit of study, getting my Certificate in Mechanical Engineering. But once i started taking photos of my babies, I never looked back. I now have 3 girls, 5, 3 and 1. My youngest still loves her photo taken, but my other two.. not so much. To be honest, my job is my hobby. So I always seem o have a camera attached to me what ever I am doing and love using it as excuse to get out and explore Taranaki with my girls. I photograph the occasional wedding, families etc as well.
Who has inspired you and how did you first come across their work?

Kristen Cook.  Very randomly found her on youtube.  She just has this wonderful energy and you can just see how much she loves her job and the babies she works with.  She as this incredible connection with the babies, and her use of words never fail to hit me in the feels. Her works reflects this.  So natural and honest.  I could listen to her talk all day.

Another inspiration for me is the paintings of Charles Marion Russell.  I grew up with theses in my home. They taught me how to tell stories and show emotion through imagery.  How you should always try to make the person looking at your work want to explore it and find a deeper meaning.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting a newborn photography business?
Patience. Babies are people not props. Make sure to put their well being and safety above everything else. If you don’t get the shot, then you don’t get the shot. If baby is hungry, then stop and wait while they feed. Unsettled, hold them and rock them.
What camera do you use? What are your favourite lenses and what’s typically in your camera bag?
I use a Canon 6d with the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art, except for macros where I have the Canon 100mm 2.8L lens.
What should clients expect when working with you?
A warm and relaxing session, with minimum fuss for mum and baby. I don’t require the use of white noise or a pacifier for my sessions as I like to be able to read babies cues at all times and make sure that they are alway happy, well fed and content.

In their own little world

Soft and delicately posed

Sweet and simple

Life after loss.

Find out more about this photographer at:

APNPI Profile



Session Spotlight: Surrogate rainbow baby


Written by: Helga Firla

This session was very special to me.

A surrogate mother contacted me to photograph the birth of this baby for the biological parents. The parents already had a 7 year old boy and they had lost another child and she couldn’t get pregnant again so they hired a surrogate mother. They had tried for years and just before they gave up on surrogacy, they received good news.

I photographed the birth of Stella and her newborn session. This family is very special to me, they were so kind and loving.

Because they live out of town, we had to do the newborn session 2 days after baby was born, so she was just shy of 72 hours old. The session went wonderful, she slept the whole time and we created so many different setups and poses for them.
The main theme of the session was fall and rainbow but we managed to create so much more.


I just love how this family embrace their new rainbow baby.

This 7 year old was so in-love with his little sister.

Little Stella is holding a necklace of Marcus who passed at birth a few years ago.

Stella was born close to Thanksgiving so we had to create a fall themed setup.

One of the must have pose that the parents requested. It was easy to accomplish with this little girl. This image is a composite, baby was held safe by two people.

Only 3 days ago she was curled up like this in her surro moms tummy.

Session by: Helga Himer Photography

In order to understand how my passion for photography bloomed, let’s take a stroll through my life. It all began in Hungary, where I was born and raised by two loving and devoted parents. When I was in high school, my Canadian uncle gave me an old Minolta camera. Right away, I was captivated by this little machine and how it could capture the beauty of the world around me. I was so excited to figure out all the ins and outs of this machine and learn about light and composition. After graduating from high school, I enrolled in a two year photography course and my career was on its way!

At the age of 21, I packed my bags and immigrated to the land of opportunity…Canada! Once I got myself settled, I started working for different photography studios. Right away, I was learning about digital photography and the various techniques used in this country; very different compared to what I had been taught back home, but I must admit….I like the Canadian style much better!

I officially opened my business in Edmonton in 2007. Over time, my understanding of photography technique has grown, both from my experience working for a variety of clients, as well as regularly educating myself through photography workshops and courses. I have built up an extensive array of photography tools (lights, lenses, cameras, software) to make the most of any occasion.

Now I teach and mentor other photographers the art of newborn posing and I’m approving my video skills to apply that with my birth sessions.

Find out more about this photographer at: