December 15, 2012

A Safety Spotter for Child Photography

It’s Christmas card time! I know, I’m so so late. I’m ordering them tomorrow.


Nicki was not in a cooperating mood, but I managed to snap this – my new favorite photo of Nicki. It’s not the one I have on our card. It’s better than the ones I choose, but doesn’t match the idea I have for the card.

Anyway, I showed it to a few friends and one got concerned for Nicki’s safety (because of lead exposure, risk of electrocution, strangulation, etc, etc). Let me reassure you no babies were harmed in the making of this photo. I realized that I never really talked about safety in all my newborn and baby photography posts and that maybe I should.

I have two different modes in taking photos.

When I’m using my phone I’m in mom mood. It’s quick snap a picture when the baby is doing something cute mode. I’m right there, focused on the baby.

When I’m using my DSLR, I’m in photographer mode. This is the mode where I spend time setting up, and plan out in advance what I want to do. Im concentrating on how the photos are turning out. In order to use certain lenses I need to be 5 to 8 feet back, that’s not necessarily close enough to react should baby stick something, like an electric cord, in her mouth, or roll off a raised surface. In this mode I use a safety spotter.

When I set up – because there’s always at least a minimum of testing the light and setting the exposure settings – I discuss my plans and any safety concerns with my spotter (usually Domingo.). He then stays just barely out of frame, focusing on the baby while I snap away.

Having a safety spotter is great for a couple reasons.
– I don’t think of everything. When I mentioned this picture idea to Domingo, he was concerned about the possible electric shock that could occur with the baby drool if the lights weren’t shielded enough and suggested indoor/outdoor lights to be safe. That hadn’t occurred to me.
– My attention is divided. During one of the newborn photo shoots Nicki managed to maneuver close to the edge if the couch. My mom noticed it before I did because I was looking through the viewfinder. I didn’t want the edge of the couch in the picture, so the couch edge wasn’t visible through the viewfinder. I had no way of knowing how close she had gotten to the edge.

I don’t always use a spotter. I’ve taken pictures of Nicki in her crib without a spotter. Then again, I have dropped the iPhone on her before (just once!) so maybe I need one when in mom mode too.

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