Let me start this by saying I’m so sorry I even have to write a blog post about DIY hospital newborn photos. As a recent new mom I loved my Fresh 48 photos in the hospital and I hate that so many new moms don’t even get a choice in the matter right now due to Covid-19. I realize that hospital newborn photos are the least of new mom’s worries right now but I thought as a professional photographer for the last 11 years I could offer a few suggestions just in case.
What to Pack for Photos
So let’s start before you get to the hospital and are packing your go-bag. Planning ahead of time will give you more options later I always say. If I was packing my hospital bag right now this is what I’d put in there when it comes to photos.
- A cute robe! Let’s be real, under that robe is a nursing bra/ tank top and leggings because comfort is key. But throw a cute robe over the top and you look cute and put together!
- A swaddle blanket for baby with either a hat or bow. You can find sets on places like Spearmint Baby or Amazon. You can also pick up mulin swaddle blankets from Target with cute patterns. (Also the hospital swaddle blankets are just find and lend a more classic look to your photos. There are no wrong choices here!)
- Letterboard sign! I love these for putting baby’s birth info on or a fun quote.
- Small makeup bag for mom. This can be just mascara, eyeliner, and concealer. Just something to feel a bit more refreshed.
- Your phone and charger. You can bring a camera if you like but don’t stress yourself. Your phone is just fine for this!
How to Prep the Room
To be honest this is the most important part because any photographer will tell you the light is the most important factor in your DIY hospital newborn photos.
- Open the blinds as wide as possible to let in outside light. Some hospitals have amazing windows with tons of natural light and others have blinds in the windows and face walls. You have to work with what you’ve got here.
- Look for the time of day that you get the brightest indirect light, typically late morning. If the sun is streaming directly into your room blinding everyone that is not the light we want. Wait till it moves and you no longer see bright spots on the floor.
- Turn off the overhead lights in your room. The only caveat here is if you are delivering at a time when it is rainy and yucky and dark outside you might need to leave the overhead lights on for enough light.
- Clear the clutter! Try to clear off surfaces of things like plates, cups etc. It’s way easier to move a hospital cup in the background when taking the photo then it is to edit it out later.
- Bring the baby’s bassinet close to the window. It doesn’t have to be right next to the window but definitely not across the room either.
The most important and basic tip here is to turn off the flash. Also be sure to hold steady when taking your photos and have your subject stay still. This may not work so well on a squirmy baby so if you notice motion blur from them moving you’ll need to move them closer to the window. This means that there isn’t enough light.
Another tip with iphones is to tap the screen where you want the focus to be. You will notice a sun and a box come up. If you tap the sun and slide your finger up or down you can adjust the exposure.
If you have portrait mode on your phone now is a great time to play with it! This can help with blurring out a messy hospital room.
DIY Hospital Photos to Take
Put down the Pinterest board and give yourself grace. I’m not saying to not be inspired but don’t beat yourself up if yours don’t look like what you see on Pinterest. Remember when I show up to take your photos I’m bringing 10+ years of experience plus 10k worth of equipment. I don’t hold myself to the same standards when I cook dinner at home to what a chef can make in a restaurant and you shouldn’t either!
So let’s keep this list short and easy!
- Overhead photo of baby in clear hospital bassinet
- Add the letterboard sign in for a few cute shots too
- Move around this setup and get some close-ups and then some pulled back
- Try different angles, you’d be surprised how changing your angle can take a photo from ordinary to amazing!
- Unwrap the swaddle with baby in the bassinet and get those photos of fingers and toes
- Get another overhead shot and photos with the letterboard
This will give you a good variety of photos in a short amount of time. Next up have dad or your support person use your phone to take photos of you with baby.
- Mom holding baby, sitting in hospital bed facing window
- Mom looking at baby, looking at the camera. Smile of course!
- Have mom give the baby a kiss or just cuddle close.
- Again get some close-up and then far away, try out different angles
- Stand near the window and get some photos holding the baby
- Repeat all this with Dad or your support person holding the baby too
Personally I would ask your nurse if she minds taking a quick photo of you and your SO with the baby. I can’t guarantee they will have time but my guess is during these extraordinary times they will be happy to take a quick photo for you!
Editing on Your Phone
I highly recommend the Lightroom app. It is available in the app store from Adobe the makers of Photoshop. A little secret you might not know is that most photographers use Lightroom on their computers to edit your photos not Photoshop! I rarely take an image into Photoshop for editing, 99% of my work is done in Lightroom. There are tons of tutorials on Youtube on how to use Lightroom so I’ll let you search that out yourself. Plus you can find presets that will help with doing the editing for you. Similar to Instagram filters. Again there are too many to name but I like Noble presets and Refined presets for mobile.
Let Me Help
Remember you are not expected to be a professional photographer and you’ve just given birth to a beautiful baby. You are doing the best you can under very difficult circumstances. Focus on keeping things in focus and getting good light! For my booked clients I’m offering to edit a few of their DIY hospital newborn photos for them and I’d like to open that offer up to my readers. If you are giving birth during this pandemic please feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] with 1-2 of your favorite images that you take at the hospital and I will edit them for you!