Safely Shooting Outside Your Own Studio
I love all the, the business side of things and the teaching of all of that, but I really do love actually posing and shooting and this segment's going to be about photographing siblings, which is some think is the one shot, if a family comes into your studio, it's the one shot that they want. They want to make sure that they get a photograph of the babies and their other children together and it's, you know, they it's a bit of pressure, because we want to be able to provide it, but sometimes the toddlers can be a little unpredictable. And then we'll take into consideration a lot of the safety aspects that are involved with that process, and that will depend on the age of the toddler and how they're sort of responding to my commands. We'll talk about that a little bit more in a moment when we get them in here and as I go through the process of working with them, I'll be talking about how I deal with toddlers of different ages. But the first thing I do want to talk about are the differe...
nt sort of things and elements that you encounter when you're shooting outside of your normal environment, shooting outside of your studio, or if you travel to client homes and you're working, you know, in houses that you've never been in before, you have no idea you know, what the lighting is going to be, or what the environment is going to be, so you have to be able to learn to cope with things that you have no control over. So, especially when you're shooting outside, you know, you have the temperature to consider. In the studio, we always have it set to a consistent temperature and it's important that you actually you know, keep an eye on that temperature. I'm actually using a little thermostat gun, which means that I can push the button and it's gonna tell me exactly what temperature it is right here, right now. And that means that I'm at no point in my sessions going to overheat a baby, or are they going to be too cold and become upset. Because they can't regulate their body temperature like we can. They can't warm up if they're cold and they can't cool down if they're hot. And there are some signs that you can look for when a baby is overheated. Obviously, their skin is going to go redder, they're gonna start to sweat. And if a baby has any of those things, you're gonna have to make some changes. Also, when I am photographing siblings, I'm aware that the newborn is in contact with someone who is sharing body heat and they're gonna be wrapped. So if I have the studio set at my normal temperature, which is 28 degrees Celsius, about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, I'm pretty sure, I have the potential of overheating that baby if the studio is too warm. So what I wanna make sure of is that when my clients come into the studio if they have a sibling, I'm actually gonna have the studio temperature set a little lower, somewhere around 25 degrees Celsius, which is about 72, between 72, 77, is a comfortable temperature so that you're not gonna overheat them if you are wrapping them and if they're being held by a family member. But outside, when you're photographing, the temperature can vary a lot. And we all love getting beautiful outdoor photographs, but, you know, it might be wrong time of year. Where I live, it's really hot at the moment. You know, we're getting temperatures up, sort of around the 40 degrees Celsius mark. I'm not sure of the conversion of that one, you might have to convert that yourselves. But it is hot and it's humid, and I don't want that to become uncomfortable for the baby or for the parent. And if the baby's cold outside, it's not gonna settle. It's not gonna go into that beautiful deep slumber sleep that we want them to, so therefore it makes, you know, certain set ups fairly dangerous in terms of them not being in a sleep and wriggling around, and you don't want them moving. You need to avoid direct light, their skin is so sensitive. They can become sunburned at any point in time, they're so susceptible and delicate to direct sunlight. And then there's insects, lots of insects. There's ants, there's mosquitoes, there's midges. I'm not sure if midges are a common thing around here, but in Australia, there a lot of them and a lot in the park that I actually photograph in when I'm doing maternity sessions and things like that. So I'm very aware of the need for insect repellent and things like that. Very important that you can't put insect repellent directly on a newborn's skin. If you are going to to photograph outside, apply the repellent to the outside of the prop, apply it to, you know, your hands where you are, next to the baby. Apply it to the spotter, the parents, all of those things. But yeah, it's something to be very careful of. Oh, and bees! We all love photographing near flowers. My husband's allergic to bees. Your clients might be allergic to bees. If you're shooting near flowers and things like that, so that you've got to be really careful of those things. We have jacaranda trees in Australia, beautiful big purple blossoming trees. And when the petals fall to the ground, they're like a tube, bees hide in them. And I heard this crazy story of a bride being posed in front of a jacaranda tree and there were bees in all the leaves and she got stung three times because she was standing on them and they obviously go into a defense mode and, yeah, it wasn't a very pretty result in the end. And then using a spotter, one to two spotters. Have them close by the baby at all times. I can't emphasize that enough. There should be hands on that baby all the time, especially if they're in a prop like this. This particular prop in this image, it's weighted, which we'll talk a little bit more about later when we go into props, but you need to have spotters and have someone's hands there at all times. Because, you know, they can get wind, they can have a sudden reflex, they can yawn, they can get the hiccups, they can do anything in their sleep, suddenly move, we all move in our sleep, babies do too. And you want to make sure that their little heads aren't going to go flying back and they become out of balance and there's no danger of them falling or toppling over. And then the location. I talk about this because, in the last segment we talked about some of the scary incidents that have happened, and with the photographer being killed on a set of train lines, don't ever please put a baby on a train line, or children, for that matter, or a family, anyone. There is no point in photographing on train lines. But also, if you are photographing outdoors, make sure you have the right permits. Some locations require permits for you access to actually photograph there as well. Making sure that it is a nice location for families. They're not gonna have to trudge through mud and things like that. I know in California, some of my friends like to photograph in areas where there are mountain lions. So yeah, you're gonna have to be really careful of those things. In client home sessions, I have insurances at home for my studio, my in-home studio, but when you are going to clients' homes, you also have to have the right insurances for that as well. Public liability insurance, that covers you if anything happens, it covers your clients whilst you're working with them. Talk to your insurance company and make sure you understand all the fine print, 'cause that's really important, of what that actually covers you when you are shooting outside your environment. Lighting can be really hard to work with. You know, I'm so lucky at the moment, we're shooting in a space here at Creative Live that has a ridiculous amount of natural light, which I love, and when we're in client homes, sometimes they don't have a space that's got the best light, so we'll have to bring lighting in with us. And when we bring lighting in with us, into someone's home, we have to make sure that they have enough space, we have to make sure that we can set that lighting up in an area that is not going to cause any trip hazards and things like that. And that we're using sandbags and things on the base of those lighting systems to keep them nice and sturdy. And a consistent temperature, which we talked about. This great little gadget, there's actually gonna be some details put in the chatroom, so if you wanna know more about something like this, and I think it's gonna cost about, not quoting me, about $20 on average to purchase something like this. So easy to have next to your work station in your studio or in a client's home so you can keep and eye on the temperature. And then you have to be careful of pets. I have pets, I have two dogs, and I have a cat, but I also have a natural fear of dogs, other peoples' dogs, so when I go a client's home or another photographer's home, if they have a dog, I will always ask them to put the dog into an area where it's not going to come into contact with me. It's really important because your clients might have a fear of dogs. But, most importantly, they might have an allergy. And I actually did have a client come in, my cat is not allowed in my studio, but I did have a client walk in my front door, then come into my studio, and then about 10 minutes later, she started sniffling, she said, "Do you have a cat?" and I was like, "Yep." She was very allergic to cats, but I said "I'm so sorry," but she carries an antihistamine with her. I do have antihistamines, but it's not like I'm going to administer or offer, you know, any type of, you know, drug to my clients. So, keeping in mind, we all love our pets, but our clients might not. It might make them feel uncomfortable. And dogs, at any point, if they feel like they're endangered, especially if a toddler is running at them excited, they only have to pull their ear or touch their tail or do something, make that dog sort of hesitate for a moment, and then, initial reaction is to snap. If that happened in your home or if you were bitten in a client's home, anything like that, you know, you have to be aware of all of these things and make sure that you have, you know, certain terms and conditions when you are dealing with in client home sessions and letting your clients know what to expect before you arrive. I actually a "What to Expect" guide that I send out to my clients and it gives them a brief run-down of how the session's gonna go. If you are doing in client home sessions, I did them for four years, create a "What to Expect" guide. Photograph yourself standing in front of everything that you are going to take to your client's home. Create a beautiful PDF, let them know how long the session's gonna go for. Let them know what's involved. Let them know that you need a nice, small area, you don't need a large area to photograph a baby. I used to have a small studio, a very, very small one, but you need a nice, small area that you can keep warm at a consistent temperature. And if you have lighting that you take with them, that's fine, but if you only use natural light, let them know that you need an area that has available natural light that you can keep warm. And that way the client can sort of start to prepare for when you arrive. And when they open the door, and you're standing there with your bean bag and all those boxes and crates, they're not thinking that you're gonna move in. So that they're aware of what it is that you're bringing them and there's not that initial "Oh, wow, "what do you want the bean bag for?" 'Cause like I've said before, they don't understand how the images are created. Also, let them know, you know, if they do have pets, it's a great idea, just while the session's taking place, to have them maybe in an area that is away from where you'll be working with that baby. 'Cause you don't wanna dog jumping up. But then you'll get clients that want photographs with their pets and their baby. So it's important to communicate with them about that. Find out if they've actually had some form of contact with the baby, 'cause the baby's only a week to two weeks of age. So, gauging that. I have actually had a police dog come into my studio because they were desperate to have a photograph with their dog and their baby. And I was scared, but he literally walked the dog in, it took five seconds, and he walked the dog out, and he had full control over that dog. So just communicating with your clients about the type of set up that you're going to do and what's involved and your potential, sort of, you know, worries and dangers that could take place. I can't emphasize enough about communicating with your clients, talking to them and letting them understand what our process and then what's involved in creating those images.