Throughout our campaign there has been many highs and just as many lows. I was laying in bed the other night after reading some of the negative comments toward our StandInBaby® product and I was left flat out confused with the industry as a whole… At this early stage it seems StandInBaby® has divided the newborn photography industry. We have the side that believes SIB will be an amazing tool and those that don’t. I must admit we didn’t see this coming and would never have predicted any industry wanting to put down a safety product whether you would choose to use it or not.
For those who don’t know my background, before entering photography I spent 13 years in the driver training industry. The first five years training 16-86 year olds to drive and pass the Queensland Transport practical assessment and the following eight years teaching advanced driver training focusing on hazard recognition and avoidance techniques at a closed facility.
I’m not sure if people are threatened by the product or they don’t understand the advantages. Let me begin by addressing some commonly used statements. StandInBaby® was never designed to replace a real life baby during the learning period, SIB was created to help the process. StandInBaby® is not a real baby and will not cry, poop or even flinch like a real baby. The product was designed as close as possible to simulate a limp, correctly weighted, correctly sized newborn baby with movement and functionality a priority over looks. Functionality that would, for the very first time bring much needed training solutions to the industry. Some newborn photographers have expressed their concern that SIB will take work away. StandInBaby® is a tool, and like any tool you cannot just pick it up and use it, you need to be taught. We believe SIB will help the trainers achieve far better results and with better outcomes brings more recommendations. We never set out to create something as a “money grab” for the industry as some have stated. If I had it my way we would have been just as satisfied purchasing an off the shelf training aid or doll if there was something available. All we wanted was to train a new employee (we’ll speak more about this later) safely and cut down the time needed. We had a very successful photography studio and both Sandra and I were in a comfortable position with a house and an amazing little family. After two long years dedicating every last minute of spare time and $90,000 of our personal funds spent on development it would have been a whole lot easier not to take this path. Things aren’t always easy, but if no one puts their hand up to change the way things are done the industry will never have the opportunity to evolve.
I am such a firm believer in this product I could spend all day listing its uses, instead lets run through 3 major advantages of using a training aid like StandInBaby®
In the past, the process of learning the art of newborn photography was quite simple, 1) watch someone pose a newborn baby and 2) try it yourself. What we have created is a tool that fills the large void missing from the process. Between steps 1) and 2) we now have a third process - practice in a simulated environment. I was thinking, simulation has been successfully used for training in almost every country throughout the world from the medical industry through to just a basic fire drill, so why couldn't the newborn photography industry benefit from the same process? Take the airline industry for example, pilots will initially spend 24-40 hours (depending on the airline) in a simulator and then a mandatory 2 hours per year to make sure their skills are still present. The one key advantage is mistakes can be made, not only made but mistakes can be demonstrated. In my experience, hands on training is the most efficient way to learn, especially with adults. It is all good and well to have the knowledge, whether it be acquired through written, video or in person training, but another thing to execute that knowledge in a real life situation. It’s a no brainer, to simulate that situation is the safest tried and tested method.
Never before have newborn photography trainers been able to offer step by step tuition at the trainee’s pace. StandInBaby® will for the very first time give the ability to teach poses just like dance moves. For example, when learning a taco pose, step 1 will be followed by step 2, once mastered this will advance on to, step 1, step 2 then followed by the additional step 3 and so on. Constantly building on the knowledge already retained. Without the restrictions of baby waking up or becoming unsettled this can be done at whatever speed the trainee is comfortable absorbing the steps. Just like simulated training this method is not new, it has just never been available to us newborn photographers until now.
The third training advantage (that I’m personally excited about with the creation of StandInBaby®) is repetition. We have all heard the term “practice makes perfect”. Repetition is an extremely powerful tool when learning. The more we repeat something the more the brain sees this skill to be important and with enough repetition this skill will become subconscious and will in turn become automatic. Over time this is how every photographer has learnt and perfected their skill so far. The major difference is with StandInBaby® this will only take a matter of months not years. StandInBaby® can learn where you want, when you want. With the fundamentals of posing being taught on a training aid you no longer have to wait for babies to sleep, no more model call outs and the baby stays settled permanently! Our very own staff member Jamie, who knew the fundamentals of photography but had never experienced newborn photography, using our early 3D printed prototype SIB, learnt in just 8 weeks what took us 2 years. These results blew even our expectations out of the water.
I am so passionate about StandInBaby® and changing the industry for the better! The advantages of having a simulated portion of any learning process is to refine your skills before being confronted with the additional hurdles of the real thing. In the case of newborn photography training the number one priority is baby’s well being. This needs to be at the forefront at the same time as having a nervous parent watching your every move. Now that the posing fundamentals can mastered before handling a real life baby, safety will be so much easier to achieve.
I strongly believe with simulated training, step by step tuition and repetition. StandInBaby is going to be amazing! But what do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Join the conversation!
As photographers we aren't necessarily experts on newborns health, but working with newborns means that we should always have access to the latest information.
So in an effort to keep our littlest clients safe we have created a Photorum (Photography Forum) that connects Health Care Professionals directly with Newborn Photographers.