Safety of newborns has always been at the core of our association but it is an area that may have caused some confusion in the past.
Way back when BANPAS was formed it was called BANP (British Association of Newborn Photographers) and entry to the association was only via assessment. The network of newborn photographers in the UK at that time was small and most knew each other. Portfolios were expected to show an understanding of safety – so for example, some before and after composites.
Hence, photographers who were members would say they were ‘approved’ by BANP.
As the association grew, moved to new ownership and expanded beyond Britain (we now have members in America and Australia), the name was changed to reflect this and the Baby And Newborn Photography Association was born. While the emphasis was still on safety, the pool of newborn photographers was growing fast and members no longer knew each other well. At this point, we asked applicants to upload images to their application form showing their understanding of safety, which worked well for a while.
BANPAS continued to grow (as did the entire newborn market) and we became concerned that applicants could be uploading images that were taken at workshops (where safety is taken care of for you) or maybe uploading images that they hadn’t taken at all. Around this time, something terrible happened. Two mums approached us independently to tell us about their frightening experiences at the hands of photographers (who were not BANPAS members I might add) who knew nothing about safety and had actually let their babies fall from poses during a session (in once case the baby rolled off a raised platform). While there were no serious or lasting injuries sustained, we knew we had to do something. We made some BIG changes in the name of safety.
Today BANPAS members are NOT approved. If they want to join our friendly and unique association for learning and support – we welcome them with open arms, whatever their level. We want to educate about safety – not turn people away to go and practice on babies with no real clue how to do that safely. That would just be irresponsible of us.
Our Pro Members are assessed but only for their quality of work, we don’t assess safety. Pro members are working at the top of their game, producing some of the best work we see.
We don’t condone anyone suggesting that by being a member of BANPAS that they have somehow passed a safety assessment. This is misleading to clients and may promote a false sense of security for parents. We cannot regulate the industry in any way – how would that work? How would we know that the safety measures people tell us they take, they actually see that through? True regulation of the industry would involve unannounced visits from an inspectorate body and a whole host of red tape – something that would probably be overkill and almost impossible to organise.
So, while BANPAS is an excellent resource for supporting your newborn photography business, we definitely can’t assess you for working safely.