Wanting to do your own newborn pictures in the hospital? These sessions are known as fresh 48 pictures or first 48 pictures. Hospital pictures of your baby is something you don’t want to forget so if you have a DSLR camera you can totally master the whole DIY newborn pictures in the hospital!
Newborn Pictures in the Hospital
The tiny human that’s been growing inside you is finally here, and while those first hours after baby’s arrival may be chaotic, you’ll want to stop for a moment and take in all those tiny little details….mmmm baby smell. Newborn pictures at the hospital are so raw and fresh. Hence these sessions are typically called fresh 48 photo sessions or sometimes first 48 sessions. There is nothing like hospital pictures with your new baby – before you head home into the new world as a family. When you get home if you are up to trying your own pictures at home you can totally rock those pictures too with this guide to DIY Newborn Pictures at Home.
Fresh 48 sessions were a whole new world for me a few years ago when I decided to take them myself after having my daughter. I made mistakes that, I’ve since learned from, and hopefully I can help you to avoid making the same ones through these fresh 48 photography tips I’m sharing today. As a photographer who specializes in newborn photography, the fresh 48 sessions have quickly become my favorite to shoot and I look forward to doing my own again in May 2018 when we welcome our newest addition!
Fresh 48 Camera Settings
While hiring a professional photographer to come and capture all these little details immediately after you’ve given birth (24/48hrs) isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, doing them yourself is not an impossible task and I’ll tell you how you can capture these memories with very little effort. First lets chat about some camera settings that will help make your pictures easier to take.
When I do newborn pictures in the hospital, I make sure my camera is letting in ample amounts of light. To do this, I want to make sure my f-stop (aperture) is as low as it can go (usually 1.8 if I’m shooting with my 50mm).
The lower the ISO you can shoot with the better which is generally around 200, however depending on your camera, it may allow you to go higher without sacrificing the details too much.
Lastly, shutter speed. More often then not, the baby is asleep or swaddled and therefore not moving very quickly which means you can keep the shutter speed fairly low, but be careful of shaky hands as the lower you go the more blur you will have if the camera happens to move at all while you are snapping a pic (I would recommend going no lower than 1/160 if at all possible). Keep in mind that all of these settings will greatly depend on the amount of natural light coming into your hospital room. If all of this sounds like gibberish to you, a quick google search should help you out.
Here are some things to remember for newborn photos in the hospital:
- Use Natural Light (turn off your camera flash if you have one)
If your room has a window, utilize that daylight as best as you can. Hospital lighting can be dark, dingy and often very yellow meaning your photos may end up grainy from having to use a higher ISO setting or cause more work in post (although sessions like this shouldn’t require much editing!)
If you have an on camera flash, shut it off. The flash can cause harsh shadows and unflattering skin tones. Open the blinds as much as possible and bring the bassinet right up close to the window. If the sun is shining directly into your room, you’ll want to avoid those sun spots by moving to another spot in the room where the light isn’t so harsh.
- Forget about posing
Raw, organic, REAL. These fresh 48 sessions are not posed. Sure you may move the baby around the room to get him/her in different spots (in the bassinet, on the bed, with parents etc.) but there doesn’t have to be anything posed about it. There are no rules. Although photos of the baby crying are completely ok, if you prefer ones of them calm and sleeping, try feeding them a bit and then swaddling them nice and tight before you start. This is reflecting nothing but YOUR experience so perfection is far from the goal here, after all, that baby is perfection enough.
- Get those flattering Angles
While these type of newborn sessions are about spontaneity and looking natural, you still want to make sure that you are shooting from angles that are flattering to the subject(s).
- Generally you are safe if you stick to shooting on a downwards angle.
- Stand on a stool and shoot from above (while being careful of course).
- Shoot from the top of baby’s head downwards and not up the baby’s nose.
- If you want to try and get a little artsy and can play with your focus points on your camera, try and put your focus slightly behind an object to give the photo a cool effect.
- Experiment by shooting from different angles until you find one you like.
- It’s all about the details
Fresh 48 Shot List
This is super important! You want to remember those…
- tiny toes
- little fingers
- wispy hair
- the ears
- the lips
- the going home outfit
- baby crying
- parents changing the baby on the bed
- the hospital blanket
- the hat
- the bracelets
- the room number
- Mom holding
- Dad holding
- umbilical stump/clip
- If there is something in your room that relates to that baby, take a shot of it.
Consider loosing the binky in photos as well – as It’s Always Autumn says – binkies are great for a lot of things besides photos! You can certainly take a picture or two with their binky but not all of them!
There is no such thing as ‘too many’ pictures. One of my favourite shots to get is one of the parents changing the baby on the bed. I use this opportunity to capture things like their fingers, their umbilical stump/clip, and even the baby crying cause what baby likes to be changed? But those photos are OH SO cute and always end up being my favorite.
- Get in there!
You just gave birth, and trust me I totally get how you feel. Pictures being the absolute last thing I was thinking about after I had my daughter but I can tell you it’s one thing I regret most looking back.
I took lots of great photos of my husband with her and even my in laws with her, but I’m not in a single one. The amazing thing about these photos is there are no rules about having to doll yourself up or even get dressed for that matter. They are purely raw, organic, REAL moments of you bonding with your baby for the first time.
Set up your camera and hand it off to someone to take some photos of you holding, feeding, changing the baby etc. Of course don’t forget to sneak some of dad too!
Click it up a Notch has a few more ideas on Newborn Hospital Photography Ideas – this might help you “not miss” a pose!
I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done right?
I promise, it’s much easier than a lot of people would give themselves credit for being able to do. My biggest mistake the first time I did this was shooting at night because in all honestly I let time slip away that day and we were going to be discharged and I didn’t want to leave empty handed. I ended up editing most of my photos in black and white because the hospital lighting was so yuck and while I love the photos more than anything because they are mine, I still wish I had done things differently.
I’ll also let you all in on a little secret…my favorite way to edit these sessions regardless of who they are for is in black and white because I feel as though it brings out more emotion to the photos….but that’s just me. If you intend to do any edits I suggest keeping them to a minimum! Coloring, brightness , sharpen….that’s about it.
Congrats to all you amazing mamas out there and I hope these tips help to make those first moments with your new bundle last a lifetime!
Allie is a Newborn and Lifestyle photographer from Waterdown, Ontario Canada. She loves spending time with her husband James, their daughter Charlie (16 months) and their 2 fur babies Bentley and Colton. They will also be welcoming a little boy (Rory) to the family this coming May!