Newborn photography has become very popular in recent years, and in that genre, there have been many trends. Styles range from simple and minimalistic, to highly stylized with props and backdrops. Most recently, I have noticed a trend with flags being used to wrap up or hold newborns. This is very popular with families in the Armed Forces and those wanting to show pride in their country.
As photographers, it is our responsibility to provide our clients with the images they desire while being responsible in the process. This not only means proper posing and precautions during sessions, but doing research to ensure our images are not offensive or disrespectful to viewers or potential clients. In this case, that means proper flag handling or finding an alternative to using a real flag.
Since the laws vary from country to country, be sure to research those for the country in which you are in. Since I am in the U.S.A, I have included those laws as an example. According to the US Senate Federal Laws, “The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything” and “the flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery […].” These two stipulations alone are bad news for newborn photographers that want to use a flag to portray patriotism. Adding to that the fact that flags are not allowed to touch the ground and that it is highly likely that a newborn will make a mess on the flag, it’s my opinion that finding an alternative is a good idea.
In this image, the photographer used a scarf with the American flag printed on it. This is a very good option, as they are lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to launder. The American Flag scarf can be found on Amazon for a very reasonable price. They can also be easily found for different countries, such as Great Britain, Italy, and Germany. If it is a challenge to find a scarf with your country’s flag, another option is to use a flag blanket. They are small enough to wash easily but large enough to hold a baby in.
Author’s Note: The photographer of the above image insured all precautions were taken and a large posing beanbag is positioned just out of frame for the baby’s safety.