5 Steps to Taking Professional Newborn Photos in the Hospital

Why is it so intimidating?

They’re just teeny tiny babies for heaven sake!

So why should it make your heart race to think about taking pictures of such small, non-threatening human beings?

I’ll tell you why…you want to get it right. You don’t want to mess it up. And you’ve only got one shot.

There are few things more precious than a newborn, especially a newborn who is just hours old. I’m always in awe of the absolute miracle of it all. As a photographer, I can’t help but think about how every single detail needs to be documented. Their smell, their softness…you want to remember everything about their first days of life.

You want the pictures to be perfect and there are so many things that could go wrong…

You might mess up your camera settings, the room might be too dark, the baby may never fall asleep, the hospital staff could ask you to leave.

How in the world can you capture those precious memories with so much uncertainty and pressure?

I’m here to tell you it’s TOTALLY doable. And not just doable but fun. As you use and practice these proven steps you will find that you will not only be rocking newborn hospital pictures but you will be calm as a cucumber doing it.

But before we move on the steps I want to give you a little pep talk…

Part of being a good photographer is showing confidence in yourself and in your craft. When you show up and take charge, you’re not only building trust with your clients but you’re building confidence in yourself. You may be thinking…but what if I don’t have confidence in myself and my abilities?

Well, let me tell you a secret, it’s okay to move forward even though you don’t have complete confidence in yourself…yet. A lot of photographers, if they’re being honest, will tell you that they’re often times unsure of themselves and very often have doubts about their own work.

But don’t let that stop you.

If you’re waiting for the fear to go away before taking action, you will never begin. You have to push past the fear and just do it. One of my favorite books, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers says, “The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.”

With that said…let’s begin.

1| Open all the blinds and use an open aperture. 

Often times hospital rooms are not exactly conducive to taking natural light photos. But not to worry, there is always a way around it. First of all open the blinds (pull them all the way up, don’t just open the slats). I also turn off all overhead lights and lamps. External lighting fights with the natural light and doesn’t give you that natural look that you’re going for.

Next, if you still don’t have a fast enough shutter speed, dial your aperture all the way down. (f/1.8, 2.0, 2.2 etc.) This will help you achieve a nice and fast shutter speed.

Pro Tip: Two of my favorite go-to lenses for all my indoor photography is my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens and my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. Both of these lenses with allow you to get your entire subject in the lens (without needing to back up!). Plus with such wide open apertures, you will be able to flood your camera with light thus allowing for that fast shutter speed.

2| Position the baby where there is not a lot of clutter and distraction.

Let’s face it, hospital rooms are packed with eye clutter…cords, trays, buttons, your own stuff, the baby’s stuff…the list goes on and on. When taking pictures of the baby push that clutter aside and fill your frame with the baby.

I will also move the baby around in their little crib in order to position them in an optimal spot. So that usually means near a window or in front of the bed with the mom in the background.

Also, as you use a nice wide open aperture it will blur out the background clutter and allow you to place the focus on the baby.


3| Take some detail shots of the baby and the room.

A newborn’s skin is so soft and furry and often times so wrinkly. Unfortunately, this stage only lasts for such a brief moment. So take advantage of this and get some close-up pictures of the baby tender features.

Those few days in the hospital (at least for me) are some of the sweetest days. So to remember that I like to get some shots of the room and surrounding area to document the look and feel of everything.

4| Step back and take a picture of the entire room.

Just as you took pictures of the details, take some pull-back pictures of the entire room to show what it felt like and looked like during those few precious days there. (Again, I like to move any clutter to get it out of the shot.)

5| Take some pictures with the baby and Mom.

Some of my favorite pictures are the ones with Mom (and/or dad!) holding the baby and the special bond they share. To help take the pressure of being in front of the camera off of Mom, try suggesting things for her to do. For example say, “Hold the baby in your left arm and gaze down at the baby.” (click, click, click) or “Put the baby on your belly and look up at the camera.” (click, click, click) “Good, okay now look down at the baby. ” (click, click, click)

From experience, I know that I don’t feel my best or most photogenic right after I’ve had a baby but as I’ve looked back, I treasure those pictures I have of me with my new little one.

As you’re taking charge of the situation and employing these 5 steps, let your confidence shine through. Push past your fear and know that you can do this.

Because you can.


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