It’s just not worth the risk.
I saw something in my Facebook feed the other day that really disturbed me. It was a link to a YouTube video that has since been made private because of many, many harassing comments (although they were true, some were rather spiteful) so I can’t link it… I wouldn’t have linked it anyway, as I’m not into anything that could lead to cyber-bullying the photographer or parent. But anyway, the video went something like this:
Sweet 6 month old baby girl, new at sitting up and obviously a bit wobbly still, is placed on a 2 1/2 foot high photography prop cube, on top of a backdrop, which rests directly on a hard floor. Baby smiles and giggles at mom who is standing about 10 feet away, well out of the camera’s reach. Baby gets excited, and starts to tip. She looks for a place to rest her hand, but because the cube’s surface is pretty small, her hand finds only air. Baby starts to lean. The lean quickly turns to a fall. And since babies tend to be really top-heavy, she completely flips upside down. Thank goodness mom DIVES to the rescue and catches the baby just before she hits the floor head-first. It was a very close call. Too close for comfort…
This stuff really does happen. A photographer should NEVER rely on mom’s quick reflexes. If a baby is placed any higher than floor level, a spotter should be within arms reach (NOT 10 feet across the room!!) or better yet, a parent or assistant should physically hold the baby steady or provide needed support.
It’s just not worth it. It’s a picture. A portrait. It’s not worth risking a precious little life. The memories a parent wants to capture from a photo session are NOT ones that remind them of their baby’s traumatic brain injury because of a photographer’s negligence.
Parents: Be sure that your photographer is being safe with your child. If you ever feel that your child is in danger, PLEASE speak up. Don’t worry about offending the photographer. And if your photographer gives you grief about safety issues… RUN. Get your child away and find someone who values their safety above an “artistic shot.”
Photographers: There is a better way. Be safe. By all means, be creative, but do it in a way that doesn’t endanger the children you are photographing. Use a spotter, either within arms’ reach, or actually supporting the child! Arms can be photoshopped out.
For example, I had a session last week with a sweet little baby girl, 6 months old. She wasn’t quite a stable sitter yet, but even if she were, 6 month olds tend to fall over at random. Just the nature of a 6 month old baby… Mom had a special family heirloom rocking chair we used in her newborn session (with a spotter right next to baby!) and she wanted to include it in the baby’s 6 month pictures as well. Being ever-cautious, I instructed Dad to stand to the side of the chair, and stick his hand through the rungs and grab on tightly to baby. I let him know that he was in 100% in charge of making sure she doesn’t fall during those shots, that I wouldn’t be able to catch her if she tipped. Of course Daddy hung on tight.
Yes, this leaves an arm in the frame. Yes, it’s time consuming in post production. And yes, sometimes it just doesn’t work out and we don’t get the shots that we want exactly how we want them… but like I said before, it’s JUST NOT WORTH IT. Besides, if a photographer takes the time to really learn Photoshop, she can make whole arms disappear! (Yes, I had to do this for every shot in the series. And it was quite time consuming. But I wouldn’t do it any other way.)
Now my personal preference its to have tippy sitters firmly on the ground, where they belong… but even then I usually have mom or dad sit very nearby in case they start to lean… nothing ruins a photo session faster than a goose egg on the noggin.
Just be safe with the little ones… they are precious little gifts and I would hate to see something like that pop up on my Facebook feed ever again.