CHORLEY NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER HIGHLIGHTS MAJOR SAFETY CONCERNS AFTER SOME PHOTOSHOOTS PUT BABIES AT RISK
Newborn Photographer highlights major safety concerns and urges parents to be aware.
PARENTS in Lancashire are being urged to be aware of photographers attempting to produce arty, creative, newborn baby shots without following appropriate techniques and safety procedures.
Katherine Hancock, a Specialist Newborn Photographer based in Chorley, issued the warning after two new mums – one from Atherton, near Bolton – were left horrified by photo-shoots in two different Photography Studios. In these incidents 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.
Ms Hancock, who has been professionally trained in the safe art of newborn photography, said these images should only ever be created using edited composite shots – where two or more images are morphed together to allow the baby to be held gently in position and kept safe at all times.
Sara McCarthy, 36, was suffering from post natal depression when she made a spur of the moment decision to have her baby photographed after being approached by a studio while shopping . “I had my 20-month-old son Zac with me along with my 16-week-old baby, Kieron, The room they took us into was so small I couldn’t get the pushchair in,” she said.
“I’d had to hang around for about 40 minutes so the kids were getting a little restless – I gave Zac some crisps to occupy him, then they told me to put the baby on his front on a tiny stand that was about 2ft high and as big as changing mat. I said I was worried he might roll off as it was small and he was starting to turn over. They told me to stand near him in case.
“I stood right next to him with my hands out to catch him in case he rolled – we were only two minutes into the photo shoot when Zac threw his crisps all over. I turned for a split second to see what had happened and that was the point I heard the most horrendous screams ever – my baby had fallen straight between my hands and hit the floor.
“I was absolutely wrecked, I carried him out and checked him over and tried to calm Zac, who was distressed. I got no empathy from the two young girls at the Studio, who looked like students with cameras to be honest. They didn’t offer to call an ambulance or anything. How I drove home to Atherton I will never know, its haunts me every day still – he was ok but he very easily might not have been.
“Photographers should know better than to encourage new mothers – who are at best sleep deprived and hormonally imbalanced – but in my case, depressed – into situations like that with their precious babies. I should have known better, I’ve had proper newborn shoots done at home and they were relaxed, safe, day-long shoots. If I can get into this situation, there must be thousands of other vulnerable mums out there the same.”
Ms Hancock said: “Properly conducted new baby sessions usually last up to four hours, in temperature controlled rooms with either an assistant or a parent acting as a “spotter” to monitor and support the baby at all times. I have been trained by 3 Award winning Photographers and am also insured.
Families in the UK are generating unprecedented demand for these pictures, which became en vogue in America and led to the UK market being flooded with photographers offering the service. More and more images have spread across the internet on sites such as Pinterest and Flickr – fuelling demand further.
Ms Hancock is a member of the Baby and Newborn Photography Association – Helen McGlynn, co-owner of the organisation said the stories 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.”
It’s not just untrained photographers that are the problem – the rise in sales of professional SLR digital cameras has led to an increase in the number of hobby photographers, who unwittingly think these pictures can be re-created at home.
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.”
This Facebook video shows how not to do things. It’s had more than 214,000 views and hundreds of complaints.
BANPAS illustrates how it should be done at http://www.banpas.co.uk/composite-poses
BANPAS is owned and operated by Helen McGlynn and Emma Canham – both are newborn photographers.
- 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.
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’
Your baby should be either supported, touched or “spotted” (an adult is within quick and easy reach of baby). Most photographers will ask one of the parents to act as the “spotter”, or some may have an assistant they work with.
All photographers listed on the BANPAS member directory have satisfied us that they are capable of working safely and have business insurance in place. However, we are unable to be present at studios while newborn photography sessions take place, so we rely on educating both parents and photographers on safety practises.
For more information, images or interview, please contact Angela Walton at Say Something on 07799332860 or email firstname.lastname@example.org