Q&A with Registered Physiotherapist Stephanie Robin
A friend of mine, Stephanie Robin, we've only known each other online has come all the way from Canada to join me here, because you know, we're both just so passionate about newborn safety and bringing it to the forefront of every single studio. So yeah, please join me in welcoming Stephanie, yay. (audience applauding)
Oh, thank you.
Hi, how are you? We've already hugged it out,
but I'm just so excited that she's here.
Me too, thank you for inviting me.
I feel honored, I really do.
We're gonna talk about some of the concerns, that we feel are pretty big at the moment in our industry, in terms of posing, in terms of all of these things, but what I love about Stephanie is that she actually is qualified to know a lot of these things, so can you share with everyone what your background is?
Sure, I actually started my career, it's funny, I have a funny history, but I began studying human kinetics and after that went into training and professional dan...
ce oddly, but after I finished in my dance training, I wanted to go back and finish my degree, so I finished my Kinesiology degree and then moved on into the Masters of Physiotherapy, after which I worked as a registered physiotherapist.
That's pretty cool, hey?
So she understands the anatomy, understands what our babies can and can't do, which is so important. But like what are some of the biggest concerns that you have right now, in terms of our genre?
Our genre in the industry, yes, I think that one of the biggest problems is a lack of looking at a baby as a full unit and all of the different components that are involved, so yes, you can look at just the anatomy, you can look at the physiology, but I would encourage people to be looking at each component of what makes a human a human, because they are human, they're not dolls, they're not props, they're human beings and they're actually quite vulnerable, because they're so new and so small, so you have you know, respiratory, you have skeletal, you have nervous, you have muscular, you have physiologies, so all of the reflexes that are involved with the baby as well, so I think if you break down safety and you look at only one component and you're looking at, well, the respiration is fine, it's not good enough, you need to look at it as a multidisciplinary sort of thing. So for me, when I'm looking at safety in newborns, I'm going out and I'm interviewing people, that work in the medical community specifically with the neonatal population in all different areas, so you're gonna wanna talk with respiratory therapists, NICU nurses, pediatricians, neonatologists, so that you're getting a full view, not to mention the NICU physiotherapists.
But this way, you're getting a good, full view of how the baby functions and what those safety concerns can be.
Oh, definitely, it's kind of scary, isn't it? Like what Stephanie didn't mention though is that she's an incredible newborn photographer. (laughs)
How long have you been doing newborn photography for now?
Since 2008 actually,
I started in 2008, when my second child was born and you know, just like very optimistically thought I'll buy a camera, when he's eight days old and I'll do this newborn imagery and it was very difficult, but it did ignite a passion in me, so following that, I've kind of been working at it now for I think going on six years as a registered business,
Wow and you've seen throughout that time, like I have, you know a massive shift and we have so many trends, in terms of posing
and props and things like that. It's scary to see what we see, isn't it?
Yes, there are definitely some concerns that you come across in the industry and looking at, you know, training, especially of new photographers, that are newly coming into the industry and what they're learning for their skillset and I think it's just so important that we ensure that the training that's given is encompassing and it looks at all those different areas for safety concerns.
Oh, definitely, yeah, it's crazy, because when I first started out in photography, I was on Flickr and,
Me too. (laughing)
I did love it.
Oh, the Flickr days.
And you know, there was no social media, we didn't have Creative Live then, we didn't have all the tutorials, that you know, are on the different websites that we go to, everything is now at our fingertips, everything is accessible to learn, but when I first started out, no one wanted to share information,
and that was the scary part, no one wanted to give out their little secrets and what I love now is that we are sharing,
more and more people are sharing and I think it's really important and what I mentioned earlier about how fast our genre is growing and how many photographers there are, you know entering our genre and a lot of them are women, I would say 98% of photographers that are doing newborn photography are women and they're like us, I'm the same as you, I picked up a camera, when my baby was born or I had used one before, but at that point, just photographing her every single day and documenting everything and that's where our passion ignites
and that's where we, you know, we fall in love with what it is that we do and then you know, it's not long before friends start seeing photos and they go, "Oh, can you take a picture of our baby or can you do this?" and then it's like a snowball effect, before we know it, we have a business, we have paying clients and we forget a lot of the important things along the way
in setting up our business and protecting our oursleves and the learning and the training.
Absolutely, I would agree 100% and I think that the point that you're making on sharing, it's a wonderful thing, to be able to share now and for people to be able to access the information and to use it, to improve their business and I will say for myself, my methodologies have changed over the years, so the way that I do things now is different than the way that I did them even two years ago for some of the poses, because I think what's so important in this industry is that we continue to grow, it's that growth and the self-reflection, to be able to look at the way that you work without the pride that sometimes comes with the years of experience or you know, the number of babies you've photographed and to be able to look at it and say, you know what, no, there is actually a better way for me, there is a safer way for me, so I'm always striving to improve on my methodology, no matter how many years I'll be in this business, it will continue for me this way, because you know, I always kind of think to myself, if the worst thing that you can say about me is that I'm too safe with newborns, I will take that any day of the week.
That's a good thing. (laughs) But do you know what it all comes down to? Respect.
I think so, yes.
It's respecting the baby, it's respecting your clients and their needs and it's respecting yourself as well, when you talk about that methodology and changing yourself, I'm saying what I do now in my studio is so different to what I was doing and I think a lot of photographers that come in and they have their idols, they love following certain photographers and they get inspired by them and they wanna create similar images, have similar concept images and they do it because that's what they think being a newborn photographer is, I did it, like I used to do certain poses in my studio, because the photographers that I idolized were doing them and like I wanna be a newborn photographer, I'm gonna be doing these poses just because they're doing them. So really taking that emphasis off what everyone else is doing and focusing it back on you as a photographer and what you're comfortable with, you know, what you feel confident in doing and not doing it just because someone else is doing it.
And there's poses out there, that, you know, there's trends. I know we both have similar concerns for some of the new poses that are coming round, the potato sack pose and things like that, so yeah.
And it's funny, because you know, everyone wants to grab onto the trends and so it becomes this really big accomplishment, when you can do it, when you can replicate something that you're seeing, that somebody that you love has created or you know, that one stretches way back, I mean, I remember Anne Geddes doing potato sack in her books, so really where is the origin, I don't know, but recently it's come up, like three years ago it was the frog,
And then after that the suspended imagery and the common thread is always that there is some level of difficulty, that makes it almost like this, this thing to strive for, this thing that you need to achieve and you get that inside of yourself and I think sometimes, you know, wanting to do it so badly, you might actually prioritize that over what's best for your client or what your clients needs are. So I would always encourage people, just take a step back from that, take a step back from the trends and you might wanna consider in your business, what's classic, what's traditional, what has longevity, what could go up on a wall and that parent isn't gonna wanna take it down, when that child is now, you know, three, four, five years old and you're redoing the room as a big girl bedroom,
Right? So those types of images, those are the ones that have been around a long time and you know, they're actually a lot easier to accomplish and I think that the safety element is a lot better with them too,
so babies with parents and laying naturally and simple posing, let's get back to baby.
I think we have to work smarter, not harder.
Yes. (laughing) I agree.
You know, and keeping everything really simple, beautiful, simple posing,
and it's not a competition, a lot of photographers have egos, I have an ego, we all have an ego at different degrees and it is forgetting that for a moment, 'cause when our clients walk into our studio, the focus is on them, they are the one that pay our bills,
they pay us.
I think more than that too, it's on building the trust with clients.
So for me, I never want, you know, when you hire someone, there is this power imbalance and it's like this with the registered medical fields as well, where there's very good reason why they set limitations and regulations on how you're able to interact with your client, for instance, you couldn't date them. (laughing) It's true, but it's because when they have come to see you, you are the expert and there's this level of power, that comes along with that and a level of trust and so for a parent, who's sitting and watching you, in their mind, they're thinking, "I'm new to this "and she's worked with hundreds of babies and of course, "she knows what she's doing more than I do," so if they're watching and this is their newly born baby, they may actually be feeling anxious about something that you're doing with the baby, but have that hesitation to wanna speak up about it,
Because of that power imbalance, you're the expert, but I think that that's not a good thing for your business, for them to be feeling that inside, I would rather that they have full trust
and that they know exactly what's happening and that they're not wondering, you know, "Is this gonna be okay?"
Yeah. Do you know what I love about Stephanie's website is that it actually has a section in there for clients and I want everyone to go to her website and read it, because even if Stephanie, and she even says in there, if I'm not the right photographer for you, this is what you should be looking for in terms of safety, this is how you gain trust with your clients, you know, educate them, stop worrying about everybody else out there in the industry and focus on your clients and their needs,
and their possible concerns, because when they see a photo, they don't know how it's created. I had a client once contact me and I think I've even mentioned this before on here, but she went and hired every Anne Geddes book from the library, thinking that she could do it herself and then she called me when her baby was three weeks old and she's like, "Oh my God, that was so hard." (laughing) 'Cause they don't understand we are teaching, we are sharing how to do things safely, but that could potentially be someone that wants to be a newborn photographer, then they take that baby into their studio, they see the photo that they wanna create, they don't understand how it's created, something goes wrong, it's not just a reflection on that person and their studio or wherever they're photographing, it's a reflection on baby photography as a whole, as an industry, as a genre. We have to work together and raise these standards and share and communicate
and I'm gonna go out of my way, when I get home to create a section for clients on my website, so that I can help educate them as well, because I just think that is brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
Yeah, I think I've tried to come at safety from multiple different angles over the years, I'm ambassador for Newborn Safety Week through Learn, Shoot, Inspire, which is a forum online and they put together this Newborn Safety Week, so ever since, I think it was 2010, I've been writing articles first Monday of every November.
And you can find them all on her website as well.
That's true, yeah, they're all linked there, but, you know, there is that way of educating, educate photographers, but I think educating the client is very, very important, because it has the potential to have the greatest impact on changing our industry, if clients feel empowered and knowledgeable, then when they're in a situation, where they don't feel that their baby is being handled appropriately or safely, they're gonna have more confidence to speak up about that and that's gonna increase the level of safety for those babies and that's our ultimate aim in the end. So sometimes I see online, people, they'll see something and they don't agree with it and they'll go to somebody's business page and comment and I would advise not to do this, because when you attack someone, especially where they do their business, where their clients visit, they're gonna go on the defense, you'll never be able to reach that photographer, you know, or provide them with any information, some of them have information and they choose to work differently, it's their choice,
So I think it's better that we try to educate our clients, so that even if they're not hiring us, that they feel empowered when they are with someone else to be able to speak out,
Yeah, that's right.
and to say, "I'm not comfortable with this, "I'd really rather that we maybe just, you know, "try something else or leave that pose, or you know, "I'm not comfortable with, you know, "not having them supported and that sort of thing."
Oh, absolutely, I could not agree more, our clients are the ones that, like I keep saying, they pay our bills, that's why we're in business, to service our clients. It's like if you eat at a bad restaurant, you have a bad experience, a bad meal, you're gonna tell people not to go there, they're your biggest form of marketing, they mean more clients coming in the door or less. (laughing) So you know, it's a no brainer.
You create an incredible experience, you make them feel comfortable throughout the process of photographing their baby, they're gonna leave there thinking, "Wow, this is amazing, I've had such a great time." But it comes down to a multitude of things, which we're gonna cover over the two days, in terms of of session flow and things like that.
Right, well, Kelly and Stephanie, a lot of people are asking what your website is, (laughing) and we are telling them to go there, so it is www.stephanierobin.ca, as she is Canadian,
A proud Canadian.
A proud Canadian and Stephanie with a P-H, right?
So StephanieRobin.ca and that's Robin, R-O-B-I-N. So thank you so much, we do have a couple of questions
from folks at home and also grab a mic, if you have any questions for Stephanie. So this one is from BN Holly, who says, what do both of you do in the event that you do get sick, before a scheduled newborn session, being a solo photographer and considering the ideal time window for a newborn, like in that first two weeks or 10 days, do you reschedule to a later date, because of that window or do you ever recommend a different photographer?
Hm, that's a tough one, because I actually have a list of about 10 photographers that I refer clients to, obviously I travel a fair bit at the moment, so I need to be able to refer my potential clients or returning clients to someone that I trust, someone that I know is working safely in our community. But in terms of educating my clients, when it comes to booking their session, you know, I let them know, I suggest, the best time to photograph your baby is between six to 10 days, I will photograph a baby up to three weeks of age, so that if I have to schedule, I've still got that little bit of time, you know, they're gonna book in with me around that six to 10 days, but if something happens, if they're sick, if I'm sick, I've got, you know, a week up my sleeve, where we can reschedule that session for and I'm not sure about you, but how many days a week you shoot, but I only would do three days working full time in my studio, so that means if I'm shooting, you know, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I've got Monday and Friday, that I can reschedule too. So yeah, but how do you handle that?
I actually have an assistant photographer as well, that I sometimes refer to her if I'm ever sick, but it doesn't happen quite often, although you know, something else you wanna consider is whether your children have become ill too, so for me, I have three children at home, ages six, eight and 10, they're school age, they're in multiple activities, and so they're exposed to a plethora of you know, germs and things going on, so even if my children are sick and I'm not affected, I will oftentimes reschedule that session, just because I don't wanna be incubating something and then passing that on.
I don't think that's fair.
So like you, I also do refer, like when you know, it's not gonna work out, I travel as well, so sometimes if I'm away or if my assistant isn't available, then yes, I will refer to other photographers as well,
but you wanna make sure that who you're referring to is trained and is safely able to conduct that session, 'cause that reflects on you as well, when you're referring them.
Oh, definitely, actually one of the photographers I refer to was a neonatal physiotherapist in a previous life, but not previous life, previous career.
Previous career. (laughing)
Another question that has come in is from Nicole Tanny, do you feel that every newborn photographer should obtain the Red Cross training in the event of an emergency?
Hm, I'm actually gonna be talking about infant CPR a little bit later on and knowing, you know, what is required, I don't teach it, 'cause I'm not qualified to teach it, but yes, definitely knowing what to do in the case of an emergency because it can be really scary. A friend of mine was left at home on her own and she'd had a Caesarian with her baby, so was not supposed to drive, the baby was only about five days old and it went blue, it stopped breathing, she didn't know what to do, so you know, from that moment, that was about, gosh, that would be about 12 years ago now, so I really focused on learning what to do in the case of an emergency.
Yeah, I actually just contacted somebody in our area too, because I sometimes run mini workshops and that sort of thing out of the studio and I think anyone that has a space might wanna consider doing this for the photographers in their area,
You can actually hire someone to come in and teach a group setting for CPR
Such a great idea.
and so we're working on setting that up right now.
Yeah, that is a brilliant idea, absolutely.
Well, that is a brilliant idea, I know we could sit here and talk with you all day, Stephanie, you're a wealth of resources and just again, your point about community and actually getting together with the photographers in your area and having these conversations is really huge.
So once again, thank you so much for coming all the way from Canada to be with us here on Creative Live, make sure to check out her site, StephanieRobin.ca and thank you again.
Thanks for having me, honestly, I feel so thankful and honored, it's so nice to know that there's other people in the industry that are so dedicated to spreading the awareness and the message, so I really appreciate the opportunity.
We do have like the biggest opportunity to work together as a community and I can't emphasize that enough, like Stephanie and I are at opposite ends of the globe,
so to be able to come together and work together and help raise this awareness is so important to me to have her support and I completely and utterly support her in everything that she does and how she teaches, it's so important, there is no reason why our photography industry, especially our genre needs to be working against each other, we are all servicing the same needs, I don't know why there are so many obstacles and there are so many issues, that are raised continually and yeah, it's a concern.
Objections, yeah, objections to being safe, to promoting a safer way.
But I think that at large, I think the support is there and the community, I really do, I believe it.
I really wanted to actually, I was gonna say something before about when you were talking about commenting on other people's websites and things like that, I wanna say to everybody out there, what other photographers are doing is none of your business, your business is your business, your actual, registered business, your business is your clients, your business is focusing on doing the right thing by your clients in your studio, that's what your business is, what other photographers are doing is none of your business, what they think, what other photographers think of me is none of my business, it really does not concern me, whether there are photographers out there, that don't like what I do, I'm not here, because I'm the best newborn photographer, I'm not here because I think I know more than anyone else, I'm here because I'm passionate about our industry and I'm here because we wanna share the importance of what it is that we do, I think that's the most important message that we need to get out there,
is that it's not about what everyone else is doing, it's about you and servicing your client's needs professionally and safely. So yeah, but I thank you.
Stephanie is gonna be here with us actually for the rest of the two days, so I'm really excited
Yeah, I'm gonna stay.
to have her here in the studio.
Thank you. (audience applauding)