I want to spend some time today on safety. A bunch of us have Pinterest accounts which is chock-full of inspiration, but just because it is on Pinterest doesn’t mean it is safe or in some instances, legal.
Let’s use newborn pictures for example. Did you realize that some of those are actually composites? Ninety-nine percent (no not an exact percentage…just trying to get my point across) of newborns cannot hold their heads up with their hands. Care is taken to make sure they are completely supported and then an editing program is used to merge the photos together to make the one you see. It’s the same thing with the babies hanging in hammocks and baskets. They are taken very close to the ground with a safe landing spot should they jerk out of the basket with someone acting as a spotter very close to the baby.
Pinterest is full of babies posed with Christmas lights, too. Not only are they sitting with all those lights, but some have them in their mouths. Most lights have lead in them and those lights are plugged in. You can do this photo safely but you need to know how. You can use LED lights to start with. Also, have someone watching the baby to make sure he is not chewing on them. Keep the lights off until you are actually ready to take the shot and then have someone plug them in (and immediately unplug). Never let your baby be wrapped up in lights especially if you haven’t checked the wiring for tears. These photos are cute but not worth the risk of harming your baby.
Another popular photo that is unsafe and illegal are the railroad shots. Pam Moleski from the Law Tog wrote a 2-part series on this. You can read them here: Part 1 and Part 2. Before you agree to do photos or have your own photos done on tracks, gather some information first. Some tracks are dead tracks but could still be illegal so find out first. Some parks have little train tracks you can probably use instead. Still use them with caution! You may have a local museum that has tracks but be sure to get permission first. Also, don’t let your clients climb on train cars. Most of us at some point have done these types of photos until we learned better so don’t stress yourself out if you have before. Do some research before you agree to anything like this. People have been killed on railroad track photo shoots.
Although these photos look cute or cool, they just aren’t worth the risk. When finding places or props to shoot, use your common sense. Hire photographers that are more concerned about your safety than getting a shot for their portfolios. Your loved ones are precious to you and should be to the ones you entrust their care to.