The Big Day
The time has come! Your beautiful baby has arrived, and it’s finally time to put your techniques to work. Here’s how I would get started:
The Set up and Prep
I mentioned the lighting the other day because that is one of the biggest things that plays into great photos in a hospital room. Locate the best window(s) in your room and determine when the light is at its best. Generally, you’ll have good luck with a time between 10 am - 3 pm, depending on the direction the window faces.
Aside from the window light, the next most important thing is to find a space that is the least cluttered. Let’s face it, those delivery and recovery rooms are generally not products of an interior designer’s dream, not to mention the copious amounts of buttons, switches, lights and medical equipment scattered all over. Necessary items, don’t get me wrong, but not for this purpose. It’s very important to find a spot that doesn’t contain a large amount of those immobile medical items.
Declutter in general; try and get your personal belongings in order and out of the area. If you are able to safely move the medical equipment, that’s ideal; or even ask your nurse for some help or advice. If you’re not able to move yourself due to lighting or medical equipment, you’ll need to experiment to find an angle that creates a better backdrop.
Hospital sessions are meant to be organic and natural; not posed or overthought. In this case, you won’t be putting the baby in any sort of position that they wouldn’t be in while sleeping in the bassinet, or in your arms. Please don’t try anything difficult that you’ve seen from a professional’s studio, in-home session, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. It’s not worth risking your baby’s safety to try something a trained photographer have worked several years to safely create.
You can choose to wrap your baby and the bassinet mattress with one of the swaddles you have brought with you or use the hospital blankets. Personally, I like both for different reasons. Soft muslin or jersey swaddles from your own collection do add a personal touch and style to your images. The blue and pink hospital blankets provide that classic, authentic look everyone is used to when seeing a newborn in this setting, and it’s also probably the only time you’ll be using these again anyway.
Preparing the Baby
A well-fed baby is a sleepy and happy baby. I always suggest trying for any kind of newborn photos after a nice, long feed. At this age, it’s very tough because you’re not on a real schedule yet. But the beauty of you doing them is that you’ll be there all day, every day! I’d aim for a time right after a feed during that midday timeframe I mentioned for lighting. You’ll want to keep that baby awake for a little bit before their nice long meal; suggestions include feeding right after their first bath, undressing them, tickle their toes, use a wet wipe or cloth on their chest or face to wake them up. You want that baby to be full, but also tired. Sleepy babies are quite a bit easier to capture and wrap.
Poses and wrapping
I’ll be posting a quick wrapping tutorial later on, but here are some other tips to get you started.
- Wraps vs. outfits or diaper only: Try for a variety of looks. Generally, they’re going to be awake when they don’t have clothes or a wrap on. Some new parents have a special outfit they’d like to capture too.
- Traditionally, every L&D nurse I’ve ever met has been a wrapping ninja. Seriously. These ladies have some sort of baby burrito-style wrapping method that 99% of babies cannot break free of. Ask them for a quick crash course! These wraps are, again, very classic and authentic to this time in the hospital anyway, so the look of them is a natural winner to me. You can also choose to use the hospital burrito wrap first, and then use a decorative wrap over the top for another look. See the photo below; a hospital wrap is underneath to keep the baby nice and secure, with a decorative wrap over the top.
- Details: these are so important! Those tiny toes and fingers do not stay small forever! The big picture is super important, but don’t forget the close ups of noses, ears, lips, etc. Grab that little name and info card and inked foot prints in the bassinet, too!
- Regardless of where you’re photographing; on the bed, in the bassinet, or somewhere else, choose a soft, light color or neutral blanket or background. The lighter the color you have behind the baby in that fabric, the brighter your photo will be regardless of the other light sources around you. Bright white is not ideal, however, as it can create too harsh of a light.
- Parent poses: If you decide you want to take photos of each other with the baby, remember the connection between you and your newest member is the most important thing here. Keep the baby closest to the camera, and make sure your faces are turned towards the window light. Snuggle them close, touch noses, give kisses, etc. Right now, siblings aren’t allowed (as far as I know), but the same would apply here. It’s mostly about the connection! Does not have to be a perfect “sit still and look here!” situation.
I'm hoping that these tips will help new parents get through this tough time that prevents us from working together, as I mentioned before. I'll be posting more tips on my social media pages (@kirbyannphotography on both Instagram and Facebook) if you'd like to follow along.
Do you have any suggestions or questions? Fire away! I'd love to hear from you and know what I can do to help as we all stay home and wait for this to pass.