Whether you are having a baby, a friend or family member is, or you are hired to take newborn pictures- you are taking part in a pretty special moment. Those first 48 hours are packed with warm and fuzzy feelings, lots of cuddles, and quiet-sleeping babies.
You are gifted with wonderful photography-moments, but not always in a great setting. Hospitals and nursery can be dark and dreary.
Getting those memorable images may seem like a challenge, but they are easy-peasy lemon-squeezy (as my kids like to say), with a couple tricks in your back pocket.
Prepare Baby First
For a successful newborn picture, make sure the baby is comfortable first. The temperature in the room should be warm, and the baby should be fed.
Don’t worry if the baby is sleeping. A sleeping baby is actually preferred in newborn pictures because a newborn often has unfocused eyes and rapid hand movements.
Hospital and Indoor lighting = Eeek
First thing’s first– turn off all those fluorescent lights! Those don’t compliment any skin tone, especially not one of a newborn baby. What you need to do is open the windows!
Open up those blinds, and let that natural light stream in. If it is dark you may need assistance from an external flash. I keep the flash below handy. It is a great option if you need to brighten up a room.
Just remember- NEVER, I mean N.E.V.E.R. use your DSLR’s built-in flash. It will flatten the image, dull the color, and give eye-sore shadows. Check out my post on flashes for how to use it properly. Also, if you really want to up your portrait game, and do not have a 50 mm lens, check out “It’s all about that lens” for details on the lens I use 99.9% of the time!
Capture the Natural Moments
Capture siblings expressions and candid moments. Resist the urge to ask your subjects to “say cheese”.
Wait patiently for the moment to come.
Make sure you get the mommy-cuddles, sibling curiosity, and proud daddy expressions. You don’t always need smiles. Make sure you you capture the interactions. That is what really matters on this special day.
When my youngest was born, my 2 year old daughter was scared of him. She would approach him very cautiously. Finally, we asked why she was so worried. She told us that she was afraid he was going to bite her. We still laugh about this. If there are siblings, make sure you specifically get them holding or looking at the baby. Get the real emotions. Not the fake smiles. Get the nervous or curious looks. That is what everyone will want to remember.
Make sure you get some details of the surroundings too. Snap anything that will help you or the family remember this insanely special day. This can include anything from the height/weight chart- all the way to the babies tiny, wrinkly toes.
Photo Shoot Options
You have two options with your newborn hospital portraits. One option is to go with a more natural look of the baby in the mother’s arms or in the hospital bed. I particularly love these natural images. I feel they are packed with emotions and memories.
Or you can do a photo shoot approach. All you really need is a few small props for an in-hospital photo shoot. Props include:
- Basket and blanket to lay the baby in
- Backdrop for the floor
Check out some examples of these here:
You can see these are adorable and will not break the bank! You can easily turn a dark hospital room into a full blown studio in literally 2 minutes.
Also, don’t be concerned if the baby is sleeping. Most will sleep, and actually a quiet, cozy baby creates a more natural photograph and memory.
Make sure to get a few of mom, dad, or siblings cuddling with the new baby, also.
Remember, prepare baby and collect as much natural light as you can, and let everything else naturally unfold.
For a complete tutorial on your camera settings, click here.
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