Fresh 48 sessions are always my favorite sessions. There is something so exciting and special about capturing a sweet baby just hours after entering into this world.
As fun as these sessions are, they do take a little extra planning and preparation. My goal is to honor this fleeting time with beautiful photographs while also keeping everyone happy in the moment.
Today I am sharing the lessons I have learned along the way in my own Fresh 48 experiences. With these tips, you will be on your way to beautifully capturing the first days of the baby in front of your camera.
Prepare mom and dad
Whether you have been asked to photograph someone else’s baby or you plan to photograph your own in the first two days, preparation is key! A few extra steps on the part of mom and dad can make all the difference in whether or not we have a successful session.
Mom should always feed baby about 45 minutes before pictures. This ensures that baby has a full tummy and gives enough time for any subsequent diaper messes to be cleaned-up.
Dad should turn up the heat in the room to keep it at about 80 degrees. It sounds super hot but for a snuggly baby, this temperature is perfect. Plus, as you swaddle and un-swaddle the baby, the heat will keep him cozy so that he doesn’t wake-up or get fussy from the cold.
Dad is also in charge of getting the room ready. In a hospital setting, you will need all the natural light you can get. Having Dad clear a small space next to the window so that you can harness all of that light. He will be happy to help as Mom works hard caring for baby and healing.
Finally, be sure to set realistic expectations. If you are photographing someone else’s baby, you will need to let them know how long a session generally takes and show them some examples of your work. Should you plan to photograph your own baby, remember that you may be feeling tired (you’ve worked hard!) and that you will want to enlist all of the help you can get.
Know the rules
If you are photographing a Fresh 48 session in a hospital setting, you will want to be sure you know the rules of that particular facility.
Are there visiting hours that you will need to schedule your session within? Does the hospital observe “quite time” during certain times of day? Are there rules regarding photographing when hospital staff are in the room?
Be sure to find the answers to all of these questions before you visit the hospital so that you don’t have any hiccups as you arrive for the session.
Bring the right gear
Photographing a Fresh 48 requires special equipment as you will be confined in a smaller space with limited light.
I shoot with a Nikon D750 and a Sigma ART 35mm f/1.4 lens. This full-frame camera and wide angle lens combination allow me to get the whole scene and take beautiful photos in even the trickiest of light situations.
Other photographers swear by the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. It also has a wide aperture to allow you to photograph in lower light but has the versatility of a zoom. This allows you to move between wide angle shots and portraits with ease. And this lens is most definitely on my wish list!
As you pack your camera bag, consider the shots you will want to get. A wide angle is perfect for overhead shots and for getting the whole room in one frame. You may want a longer focal length to get shots of Mom and Dad snuggling the baby.
OUR NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY ESSENTIALS
The versatility of this lens can’t be beat! It allows you to work within the tight spaces of the hospital room and its consistent aperture allows you to keep shooting in even the trickiest of light situations.
Welcoming a bundle of joy and don’t want to spend a bundle on that brand new lens? The nifty fifty might be the perfect choice for you! It allows you to photograph the scene just like your eye sees it and it won’t break the bank.
A full frame camera will allow you to use all of your camera sensor meaning that you won’t be cropping out the edges as you would on a lesser camera. In the tight space of a hospital room, this can be a game changer! We love the Nikon D750 for its fantastic performance and it’s friendly price tag.
What to wear
Mom always asks what she should pack in her bag for the Fresh 48. Depending on your style, the answer can vary greatly.
I prefer a more relaxed style, so for Mom I keep things comfortable and simple. Pants with stretch, a simple top, and a pretty robe will photograph beautifully while keeping mom feeling great.
Dad should wear something equally simple and relaxed so that he matches Mom. A solid colored tee and jeans or slacks will do the trick.
For baby, I recommend planning on a few outfits. I love the little white shirt that the hospital gives to newborns and always want a few shots of that. If the room isn’t too cold, some photos of baby in just a diaper are super sweet. And of course, Mom and Dad will likely have a special outfit that you will want to capture as well.
After arriving at the hospital (with the room nice and warm and space by the window cleared already thanks to Dad’s prep!), I start taking pictures right away.
The first shots I suggest you take are the sibling photos. They are likely not going to have the patience of the parents and so you will want to take care of them first.
I love shots of big brothers and sisters holding their new sibling. The pride in being the “big kid” is so sweet and definitely worth documenting
If the siblings are younger or seem to not be feeling their new brother or sister, try having them simply peek into the bassinet. Simple tasks of counting fingers and toes will translate as interest and connection in the photographs.
Of course, you should never force a sibling shot if you feel like it will be dangerous for the baby. Instead, you can have them snuggle in bed with Mom while she holds the baby. Safety is most important always!
After I have all of the sibling shots I want, I put baby back in the bassinet for some shots alone. All of the action of sibling shots is likely to make her sleepy making this the perfect time for solo photos!
Shoot overhead to get all of baby in the frame. Get some close-up shots of fingers, toes, and any other details that might catch your eye.
I don’t typically like props too much, but if there is a special lovey that has come with the family or a pretty blanket, these can be good items to incorporate at this time.
Try different angles and different focal lengths as much as you can here. You might be surprised that your first instinct shots are not your favorites as you scroll through later!
Mom and Dad shots are usually done last. This gives them a while to relax with me in the room and to observe how I take pictures. They’ve been through a lot these past few days and so you will want to do everything you can to keep them relaxed!
I always get a shot of the dad sitting down with his hand cupping underneath the baby’s head. I love how his big hands give a point of reference for just how tiny the baby is. Then, I move to get the same pose from above. Just that slight adjustment in shooting position adds some great variety to the final gallery.
Then I will have the dad stand in front of the window. I set the baby’s bum on Dad’s chest and to a nose to nose shot.
Often, I will add the mom at this time and have her snuggle into the shot. This is a great way to get both parents in the frame and then transition from Dad to Mom.
I am always most delicate with mom as she has been working so hard and is likely exhausted and sore. I find that just telling her to snuggle with her baby makes for my favorite shots. It brings out real emotion and natural smiles.
Next, I put baby over mom’s shoulder and get a few shots like that. It lets me get a different angle of the mom’s beautiful face as she gazes at her baby.
In general, moms want to avoid having any shots where her belly is showing. It can be disorienting getting used to this big changes in her body and you will want to be sensitive to that. Of course, I know that mom has never looked more beautiful and so I am sure to affirm her throughout the session to let her know.
The place in which baby is staying right after being born is just as much a part of his story as anything. Be sure to capture details of the setting as well as the people in it.
I love to get shots of baby’s little armband, the sign in front of the hospital, the view out the window, and mom’s name on the door. Be alert for anything that seems special and will help everyone remember this time with as much depth as possible.
There is a reason that most photo studios are not set-up like hospital rooms. It’s not ideal shooting conditions! That said, you can still create beautiful photos there.
I try to shoot near a window as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO for proper exposure. Grain is okay and you don’t want to miss focus because of a too slow shutter speed! Likewise, you will want to have an aperture that allows you to have everything in focus that helps tell the story of that moment.
If you are shooting video at the Fresh 48 (and I hope you are!), short clips definitely work best. I would recommend that you don’t shoot anything longer than 10-15 seconds. You are still able to capture the love and emotion without it dragging on. Plus, it makes editing so much easier!
For my camera settings with video, I prefer to keep my aperture around f/3-4 so that I don’t miss focus as everyone moves around. For me, I find that manual focus is much easier than auto focus as it allows me to have more control as my subjects move around. I keep my ISO at whatever setting allows me to have proper exposure.
I usually switch back and forth between video and still imagery for every set-up. Capturing the movement of little legs kicking and sweet baby yawns makes the Fresh 48 session that much more memorable.
When editing your images and video, you will want to keep everything consistent. This allows the images to tell a story as they will all look as if they belong together.
The goal of a Fresh 48 session is to capture all the newness and magic of having a baby. Try not to worry too much about posing and getting the shots you imagined before arriving. Instead, focus on capturing the emotions of this momentous occasion. This family will look back on these images forever with so much love.