Having a baby is one of the most important days is a new parent’s life. It’s so important that some parents jump at the opportunity to have a photographer present to document those first moments after arrival. Known as a “First 48” or a “Fresh 48” session, this is a perfect way to capture that brand newness of a newborn in the hospital within the first 48 hours of birth. From what questions you should have answered before the due day to what photos you should focus on, I am going to share some helpful tips that will make your next Fresh 48 session a successful one. Plus, I am even going to share what lenses I bring along with me that help me capture beautiful photos in a hospital environment, despite the distracting surroundings commonly found in that setting.
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- No.01Know the details.
Babies come on their own schedule, which can make planning a session a little more difficult. Honest communication is going to be your winning ticket here. While waiting for the baby to arrive, I like to have a lot of questions answered so that on their due day, I am ready to go! Things you should already know before your session include: what hospital the client will be delivering at, how soon or how late would they like you to arrive at the hospital during that first 48 hours, and if they have any particular moments that they would really like captured.
Having these questions already answered will encourage less stress for you and the new parents. Being organized and efficient before the due day makes it so much easier when you get that call announcing that their little one is finally here and your only remaining question will be, “What’s your room number!?” Take it one step further and have the expectant parents text or call you once labor has begun, allowing you time to have your camera gear packed up and waiting by the door.
Lastly, be sure to chat about hospital lighting with your client. If they deliver in the middle of the night, do they still want you coming right after to photograph or would they prefer you arrive first thing in the morning? Giving the client an idea about how their photographs will look in natural light versus artificial hospital light will help determine when you should arrive for photos.
- No.02The setting.
The four walls that they wheel the new mommy and baby into after delivery is going to be a special room. It will be the room where they experience some of the first moments as a brand new family and really get to know their baby for the first time. Be sure to step back and document the setting. A great way to do this is through the use of a pullback photo. I like to be sure to keep my Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens in my camera bag because it has a wider angle and allows me to get more of the room into the frame, capturing all of the details.
- No.03Capture the emotion.
Capturing emotion is going to be easier than you think, as the new parents are going to be full of honest and raw emotion. Be sure to capture that “awe” of a new parent with their tiny baby. They have been waiting nine months to finally meet their little one, so make sure you focus on photographing that new connection between baby and parent. Have them get close to their little one and look at them, as you stand back and photograph the moment.
- No.04The traditional hospital bassinet.
Just like their parents and the grandparents, the new little baby will lay in that traditional hospital bassinet a time or two during their hospital stay. Be sure to get at least one, or a dozen, photos of them in it. Because most of the bassinets have clear sides, take the opportunity to get creative with your angles, get down low at eye level and photograph from the sides as well.
- No.05Their first portrait.
Although it may seem obvious, take all the time you need to get that perfect first portrait. It will most likely be the one that the parents will share the most with friends and family, especially when creating baby announcements. Some newborns will sleep during most of your session, as they are so brand new. But if you get a peek at their pretty eyes, press pause on your current photography posing and focus on a baby portrait.
My favorite lens to use during sessions is my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens, as I love how the low aperture helps me keep my focus on my subject, but allows me to blur out the surrounding environment. And hospital settings contain a lot of distractions that I cannot control, so having my 50mm lens helps me tone down the surrounding distractions that I don’t want to place focus on.
- No.06All the tiny details.
Just like the new parents will be soaking in all of their new baby’s tiny details, so should you. After capturing that perfect portrait of their cute face, take some time to photograph their hands, feet and ears. Most of these photos can be achieved while the newborn is laying in their bassinet, but laying them on the mom’s hospital bed is also a great tip for capturing the details. By using the bed, you are allowing yourself more space to use a variety of angles. As a bonus, hospital bedding is very neutral and will allow you a perfect and natural backdrop for your photos, allowing the focus to stay on the baby and not a distracting surrounding.
- No.07Daddy and baby.
- No.08Skin to skin.
Skin-to-skin after birth is so important for new babies and their parents, as it facilitates even more of a bond. If your client is comfortable, photograph that important moment. Have the mommy look at her baby during this time and take the opportunity to get some photos of the baby, as they will be naturally comfortable and calm during this moment.
- No.09The first family portrait.
Be mindful of getting a variety of photos of the brand new family all together. Whether the new mommy is more comfortable in bed or is ready to stand for a little while, be sure to take every opportunity to capture their brand new moments. Getting a good combination of natural photos versus portraits of the family looking at the camera is also something to keep in mind. After placing my families into position, I like to start with them looking at me and then looking at one another or at their baby, as of way of getting a variety.
Just as quickly as you were packing your camera bag for the hospital, you will be packing it to go home. Remember that new mommies and daddies are going to be very tired and emotional, so keeping your communication organized before the session and arriving to the hospital with a plan of the photos you want to take will help ensure that your clients experience a relaxing and stress free session experience. And the more relaxed and comfortable your clients stay, the more natural and successful your photographs will look.
To see even more moments from this Fresh 48 session, click on over to my portfolio!