Little know fact about me – I have photographed nearly 5,000 babies in all types of hospital rooms. I’ve swaddled so many babies for photos, I could probably do it with my eyes closed. I know not everyone’s newborn exposure is as high as mine, so I figured I’d share what I learned about how to capture the best images in a hospital room (which doesn’t always seem like the most photogenic place).
1. When possible use natural lighting
I have photographed in a whole lot of hospital rooms, so I know that natural light isn’t always a given. But sometimes there is more light than meets the eye. Before you discount natural light give it a try. Follow these steps to get the best natural light possible in your room:
- Open blinds
- Shut off overhead lights
- If doing photos in the basinet, push it as close the window as possible.
- Make sure there isn’t anything between the baby and the window that is blocking the light (this can be a rolled up blanket, a food tray, balloons or flowers in the window sill).
2. Take a minute to do a nice swaddle
(or better yet, have a nurse do it for you!)
Aren’t the best swaddler? That’s okay! You know who is great at swaddling? Your nurse or pediatrician. After your tiny gets a little check up, ask the person swaddling them back up to use which ever swaddle you wan in the photos, and let them know that you are going to take photos of the baby afterwards. Most of the time they will be more than happy to do a picture perfect swaddle for you.
3. Included your hands
Your tiny is so, well, tiny! The best way to show their smallness is to use scale. And what better to use than your own hand (your partners hand would also work). What should you do with your hands, you ask? Here are a few of my favorite examples of this:
4. Get a family photo … even if you don’t want to.
I get it. You probably haven’t showered in days, you are wearing a hospital gown, and you don’t even want to look in the mirror to see what you look like. I’ve seen thousands of parents in this position, and let me tell you, you are going to look better than you think. A little mascara, lip balm, and brush through your hair is all you need if you are worried about not looking good. That being said – these photos are not for you. They are for your kid. Do you have a photo of your mom holding you in your first 48 hours? If not, how much would you love to have the photo even if your mom didn’t think she was ready for photos. Don’t do it for you. Do it for them.
5. Don’t worry about posing the baby
At this age, they don’t do much at this point besides look super cute. Having baby swaddled, or just snuggled up in a blanket is all you need. Let them get into their preferred position and roll with it.
Get different shots by moving you and your camera. Babies are going to do what they want. And sometimes that’s sleeping like a log! The best way to get a variety of images is to move, the bassinet, your body and the camera. Try getting photos at the same level of the baby, get some with the camera right above their face. Step back, step close.
6. Don’t forget the details
They are only small this one time. It’s okay if their skin is shedding like a snake, or their feet are super wrinkly. Make sure you capture this little details.
• Bands on the baby’s feet
• Info card
• Room in all its mess and glory! You can tidy up a little bit, but don’t stress too much. Everything in the room will help tell your story.
7. Move clutter
I know. I know. I just said capture that mess. Well, sometimes a little decluttering can also help. Here are a few things to look out for to make the shots a little cleaner. Bassinets can have all kinds of things in them (pacifiers, paperwork, suction bulbs, diapers, etc.) If you are doing a shot on the bed, push away the food tray, and take a moment to straighten the blankets.
When trying to get a shot with the big brother or sister, lock the wheels of the bassinet. First, push the bassinet to the side of the bed that has the window. Then lock the wheels. Next, you can get big sib (who just washed their hands) to stand on the bed and look into the bassinet at their new baby. Depending on how the big sib is doing, you can have the lean in and smell the baby, or lightly touch them.
Use lots of pillows for support when they are holding the baby in a chair. I like to use at least two pillows when a toddler is holding their baby sib. I have the big sib is in the corner of a chair or couch. That way they have some support. Then a put a pillow on the big sib’s lab, and sometimes on one rolled up between them at the corner that they are closest to. Next, baby can be placed on the pillows with their head closets to the arm of the chair or couch. This way big sib can hold them, while still having support. Of course, only do this if are confident big sib is going to be okay with it, and not push them off their lap.