A few years ago I wrote a blog posting explaining how some of the poses I did during a newborn session required a second set of hands and some photoshop magic. Some beautiful poses require a second set of hands to hold baby safely in place. The rest of the poses that I did I knew baby was wrapped snuggly or safely within an arms reach while I was photographing. There were some props and poses that did require a spotter and I would ask Mom or Dad, who were at the session to help spot the baby (as long as said she felt up to helping or did not have a c-section).
Whenever I booked twins I would ask for another set of hands (outside of Mom and Dad) and hire someone for the day to help me assist during the session. I also hired someone, to help, when I was photographing a newborn at the end of my fifth pregnancy. My tummy was slowing me down and I knew I was not agile enough to reach the baby quickly enough to be deemed safe.
After Rosalie was born I decided to photograph her newborn session and realized a few things very quickly. I was SOOO sore! I had a relatively good delivery and recovery but I was still too sore to want to comfortably sit and pose my baby. My husband was spotting for me so I could do a few props that required someone to be next to her and we both realized another factor, exhaustion. This was expected, we were parents to a brand new baby and getting very little sleep.
I thought about the fact that there are so many jobs that require a certain amount of sleep to safely perform the job. It made me realize that I needed to be more cautious about asking parents to help. There were certain poses and props I had wanted to do but did not because of the safety risk and parents being too tired. My studio at the time was so small, that adding an additional person to the room would make it almost impossible to move around but the idea was on my mind. I know that my next goal was to have a larger studio and to add a full-time assistant who I could train.
When the new studio was finally completed, Jen joined my team. It has been over a year and she has been nothing short of amazing. She was trained by me and now has the experience that makes her invaluable! Her sole job is to watch the babies and predict their movements through breathing patterns. She checks circulation, her eyes never leave the baby and she is always inches or hands on when needed. Her focus is 100% safety. This relieves some of the pressure from me and now I am free to focus more on camera settings, being more creative with my setups and more variety.
My pictures show beautiful sleeping newborns but the truth is they are constantly moving, wiggling, squirming. They wake easily, they stretch and lurch! Jen is constantly there stabilizing their heads, holding their limbs so they do not flail and wake themselves. She is next to them to calm them. With her working alongside of me I can now safely accomplish so many poses that require that second set of hands! She can pass me items that I may need (before I would either need to ask a parents of lift the baby out of the pose and prop, risking waking them, all to reach one small item).
With sibling shots it doesn’t always look like you need a spotter because they are laying down or the older sibling has been so easy-going and sweet with their new sibling. After photographing over 100 newborns and 300 toddlers I have experienced how quickly toddlers can change their mind and move. My assistant is sitting next to the baby and ready at an instant to scoop baby up if their brother or sister gets a bit wiggly or wants to push the baby off. The same with parent shots, Mom may feel weak from her delivery experience and Jen is standing next to her helping her support baby and parents feel more secure knowing that there is someone there to aid them if need be.
With our combined experience, Jen and I have managed to photograph babies with special needs and physical handicaps with ease. Working together we do not fear even the fussiest babies and our average photography session has gone down from 3-4.5 hours to 2-3 hours. The biggest bonus? Parents can sit back and relax. They have less stress knowing there are two wide awake, experienced baby handlers holding their newborn. They are able to sit back, have a coffee, browse there phones, play with the older siblings, etc. A few have even caught a short nap knowing that their baby is safe.
I am so pleased that my studio is able to offer this service, of an assistant, for every newborn session.