Newborn Safety Week 2012: Day 5 with Amber Scruggs

Today we turn towards our members and Facebook fans for their newborn safety related questions they had submitted! Who better to answer these questions then Amber Scruggs of Little Moon Photography?!?! Amber is well known for her amazing and unique newborn imagery across the globe. She is an inspiring success and we are so honored that she was willing to do this post with us. Enjoy!


Newborn Safety Week 2012: Day 5 with Amber Scruggs
Newborn Safety Q & A’s from LSI Facebook Fans


Are there semi-standard sanitary or germ related considerations when dealing with newborn sessions in regards to blankets etc?

Yes! While newborns are pretty resilient their immune systems are not fully developed until about 6 months old so you do need to make sure your session with them is sanitary. I wash all of the blankets I use every session, clean my studio and sanitize it regularly, wash and sanitize my hands multiple times during the session and will never shoot a newborn if I even have a sniffle or anyone in my house is ill. I want my studio to be a safe/cozy environment where my clients feel safe bringing me their brand new babies.


I have two or three sessions scheduled for the day and the first newborn mommy also brings a sick and likely contagious sibling. How should I handle it for the safety of the other newborns coming in that day?

Wow, you shoot 2 or 3 sessions in one day? You are a superstar! LOL I only shoot one session a day, especially if it’s a newborn since they are so time/labor intensive.

In that situation I’d just clean the studio and not re-use any blankets or props that the other kid touched until they were clean. If the child had some crazy contagious illness, I might even try to reschedule my later sessions to be extra safe.


If parents ask you to do a pose which can be a safety risk… how do you handle it without offending parents?

My clients are coming to me for the style of photos represented on my website, not for some crazy unsafe image they might have found on Pinterest. Depending on the shot, I’d educate them on the safety of it and persuade them to try something else. There’s no way I’d put their baby in harms way and most parents would happy to know that after they realize the pose is not safe.


Before doing a newborn session… do you have parents sign any form of contract to protect yourself in the case of an accident?

I’m insured and they sign a contract prior to the session.


I see a lot of photographers using buckets and similar props… how do you prevent them from tipping over?

I love babies in buckets, not going to lie! With these shots I place a heavy brick on the very bottom of the bucket and then the blankets/fur on top of that. I also have a spotter (Mom or Dad) with their hands on the baby/bucket right up until I take the shot and make sure the baby is settled before they remove a finger.


In some newborn images I notice the babies limbs are dark red or purple. Is this normal? How can I prevent it? Is it dangerous for the baby?

A newborn babies circulatory system is still immature so a purple foot for a short period of time is not going to harm them but I always make sure this does not happen because it just doesn’t look pretty/comfy. Just lift whatever limb is on top of the purple limb and rub it, the blood will flow through it again and turn it back to normal color then place it back down and continue posing them.


I notice in some images babies appear very high off the ground. How can that possibly be safe?

I’m not going to speak for every photographer because I’m not there watching every shot, but most photographers use photoshop to make it appear that way by merging a few different shots. They also should always have a spotter or hands near/on the baby at all times.


I know of another photographer posting images on Facebook that is not practicing newborn safety techniques. Can and should I do anything about it?

Oh we have all seen these shots and they honestly make my heart drop when I see them. The best thing you can do is nicely send the photographer an email and educate them on newborn safety. Unfortunately there is no “governing body” in our industry but we are all peers and can educate each other.


I’m new at this and sometimes I get a stubborn baby that just won’t let me do some of the requested poses it seems. How long should I continue trying?

No pose is worth waking up or agitating a baby, if they won’t do a certain pose and are fighting it, move on to another pose. As a photographer your job is to produce beautiful, cozy shots of your clients brand new baby, not try to outpose other photographers or get as many poses as you can in one session. Always remember who you are shooting for and that is your CLIENTS.


What advise can you give for parents when trying to find a ‘safe’ newborn photographer? Are there any red flags before or during the session they should look for?

YES, if looking at a photographers work and the majority of the babies look uncomfortable, are grimacing or the shot looks dangerous (IE: baby hanging but looks like it’s about to fall out), keep looking. There are plenty of photographers out there that are doing it the right way.


How do you get over the fear of hurting a newborn? I’m a photographer and would LOVE to start shooting newborns… but I’m sooo afraid of hurting them.

Newborns are pretty sturdy little things, have you ever watched the nurses handle them after they are born? There’s a fine line between being gentle but firm, babies like to feel secure so having your hands on them at all times comforts them. I think it just takes a lot of practice to really feel comfortable so keep shooting them!


I have a few newborn safety questions as I have been considering learning and photographing newborns. How far heater should be from baby? This may sound silly, but my newborn son got a sunburn from sitting in is swing near a window for too long, do photogs hang sheer fabric, limit sun exposure, anything to prevent sunburn? Since its happened to him I’ve been too nervous about sun exposure.

Wow, I’ve never heard of a newborn getting sunburned, how scary! I use strobe lights and it’s protected by a softbox but when I was shooting natural light, my baby was always at a 45 degree angle to the light and it wasn’t direct blazing sun coming through.

My space heater is about a foot away from the baby but it’s not a super powerful one, I wouldn’t put it right on top of the baby, that is just crazy.


Please note that during the week of November 5th, 2012 we are publishing a series of Newborn Safety posts. Alexis Media Co (Learn Shoot Inspire) and each photographer will NOT be held responsible for any accidents that may be caused from following techniques being displayed. The photographers are being kind enough to voluntarily show their own personal techniques which may not be the only method available. Just by reading an article online and following it step-by-step does not make you a professional or even trained in their or other methods. Attempt any of the poses or techniques at your own risk.