When it comes to making memorable baby portraits, photographers often get really creative. We’ve got this little chunk of cuteness here, how can we make it even CUTER by the props we use? With tiny ones, it only makes sense to put them in, or on, something that shows how tiny they are. Some truly breathtaking images are created when newborns are set in a gorgeous, textural wood bowl, or carefully arranged in an antique box, or snuggled into baskets or fabric cocoons.
But in this installment of TrendSpotters, I want to point out a trend I’ve seen in recent months that really concerns me. It involves putting babies into glass vases. Yes, that’s right, GLASS. That stuff that can break, and cause big cuts and lots of blood.
Here’s how the setup goes: There’s a holiday coming up. Let’s say it’s Halloween. Determined to be ‘different’ and ‘creative’, a fauxtographer decides to take that classic image of a baby sleeping on/next to a pumpkin up to the next level. She gets the pumpkin, and then next to that she sets a glass bowl. She fills the glass bowl halfway with candy corn (see the theme? Halloween, pumpkin, candy corn?) and then snuggles in a newborn baby. Then she fills in around the baby with more candy corn. *Snap* take the shot.
Cute, huh? If you think this kind of image is cute, I don’t blame you. Done well, it certainly could be Awww Inspiring. But cute isn’t everything, folks. This is another one of those instances where the safety of the baby should be taken into account. And in my opinion, THIS IS UNSAFE.
Allow me to show you my simulated setup with Lulu. I’ve chosen a Hot Cocoa theme for my simulation. Lulu is snuggled into a glass vase filled with marshmallows. Pretty clever, huh?
True story: When I was a kid, my dad picked up a perfectly normal looking bottle of wine to open it up for Thanksgiving dinner. The glass, which had no visible flaws, had an internal crack which gave way when he picked it up, and sliced open his arm. We spent several hours in the ER that Thanksgiving.
True story: The mother of a friend of mine cut her knuckles to the bone when a glass broke in her hand as she set it in the sink to be washed.
Glass breaks. As parents, we go to great lengths to keep our little ones away from glass objects that could break and hurt them. And yet people are putting newborn babies INSIDE of glass objects? Parents – if you took your baby to a fauxtographer who wanted to do this, please PLEASE say no!
Let’s go back to Lulu and my Hot Cocoa theme. Let’s pretend that I want to adjust Lulu a little bit, so I lean in to move her tiny fingers. I’m wearing my camera around my neck, and it swings a little as I move, and my big ol’ lens taps the glass that Lulu is nestled in. A crack occurs in the glass.
Then, from the pressure of the baby’s weight inside, the vase shatters.
Fact: When you take your baby to the doctor, and they take her pulse, they don’t take it on the neck or the wrist like they do with an older child or adult. They take the pulse on the inside of the arm. It’s called a brachial pulse. Do you know why they do that? Because the brachial artery is the closest artery to the surface of the skin in an infant. Which means that if the baby is leaning on the edge of the glass, as we see in so many versions of this image, the breaking glass will be pressed against the brachial artery. You do the math.
Aside from the brachial artery, obviously this baby can be injured from any of the shards of glass – or tiny little specks of glass dust flying around when a glass breaks – or from the fall from the vase that happens when the glass breaks – or all of those options.
This just isn’t safe. There are so many beautiful options for vessels to snuggle a baby into to make lovely portraits. Please don’t allow the safety of your child to be put at stake for a ‘cute’ shot.
Special thanks to Carrie Steffe of EMAPhotography in New Jersey for these beautiful examples of babies in/on safe, appropriate props!