Just recently a student of mine emailed me in a frenzy: “I’m totally freaking out and need some advice!! I was shooting a newborn this morning without my assistant because the parents wanted dad in the images and found out last minute that he couldn’t come on their original date. Baby was on the bean bag asleep and I was sitting right in front of it and turned around to talk to dad and the baby startled and fell off!!! WHAT DO I DO?????”
“Baby was on the bean bag asleep and I was sitting right in front of it. I turned around to talk to dad and the baby startled and fell off!!! WHAT DO I DO?????”
If you are a newborn photographer and you don’t have liability insurance, you are a ticking time-bomb of uh-oh. Luckily this student did have insurance and even more lucky—the baby was fine.
I always work with an assistant to avoid issues and add an extra layer of safety. That extra set of hands let’s me do my job without worrying about baby. You can find assistant willing to help in lots of places. Just make sure they are qualified to work with newborns and vaccinated against childhood diseases.
But can you imagine? Not only would you feel horrible and wracked with guilt which is bad enough, but you would also lose your entire livelihood and the future you’ve worked so hard to achieve. If you are married and/or own a home and are still a sole proprietor, you would lose your business, your house, your retirement and any income, savings or retirement your spouse had earned as well.
EVERY ASSET YOU OWN would be taken from you in the lawsuit the parents could rightfully file against you for hurting their child.
So how does a business owner protect herself?
1. Get Liability Insurance A million dollar policy (2 million is better) should help get you started. Make sure it covers medical and injury liability. Contact your home or car insurance company and see if they can help you with business insurance. If they can’t, they should be able to recommend someone who can.
2. Make your clients sign a “Liability Release” Before ANY baby touches my hands, parents are REQUIRED to sign a release. It won’t solve every scenario, but at least my clients are informed of the risks and acknowledge them. This helps a lot in a “worst-case” situation.
3. Change your business to LLC status. Hire an attorney and convert your company to a “Limited Liability Corporation.” An LLC protects it’s owner(s) from personal liability. There are a couple of elective designations like C-corp and S-corp that can be right for some businesses. You’ll need to speak to a professional to determine which one is right for you. As newborn photographers, we are being trusted with a parents most precious being. It’s an enormous responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, our industry does not require a license, certification or any kind of professional designation. So we need to make sure we take the initiative and protect ourselves and our little subjects at all costs.