Expert Tips for Fresh 48 Newborn Photography Part One in Evergreen Park and Mokena, IL

Expert Tips for Fresh 48 Newborn Photography Part One in Evergreen Park and Mokena, IL
Expert Tips for Fresh 48 Newborn Photography Part One in Evergreen Park and Mokena, IL

From the moment your baby is born, you want every minute to be remembered. If you’re like me, you’ve thought about all of the photographs you want to take in the first days after your baby is born.

Jamie Gertler is a professional photographer with a talent for capturing those perfect moments with your newborn. To contact her and see more of her work

Before the pandemic, you could hire a professional photographer to take these photos for you at the hospital. These are called Fresh 48 sessions, and they are my absolute favorite to be a part of.

If you’re not familiar with Fresh 48, it’s when a photographer takes photos of your newborn baby in the hospital during the first 48 hours of his or her life. These unposed, documentary-style newborn photo sessions are all about capturing raw emotions as they’re happening. These photographs are great to look back on as your baby grows.

With stricter hospital guidelines in place during the pandemic, most hospitals around the country aren’t allowing photographers to be at the hospital with you. Don’t worry, you can achieve amazing photographs of your newborn – DIY style. After reading this blog, you’ll have the confidence to take professional looking photos … yes, even with your smartphone.

Let’s get started with my Top 8 Tips for a successful DIY Fresh 48 photoshoot in a hospital setting:

1. Say hello to natural light

Before you do anything, turn off all hospital lighting.

Hospital lighting can be very harsh and makes it more difficult to take quality photographs. If you keep them on, the fluorescent lights can cause photos to be dark and dingy with a yellow tinge and grainy look.

Open the window curtains to maximize natural light

Place the bassinet in front of the window, creating a nice setup for soft shadows behind your newborn. If you’re holding your newborn, position him or her at a downward 45-degree angle so you see a soft shadow cast under your baby’s nose. These small tricks will help to create the perfect backlighting behind your baby.

Turn off the flash

Using a flash in a hospital room can cause harsh shadows and unflattering skin tones. So, remember to turn your flash off and just take advantage of natural light.

2. Timing

Morning and early afternoon sessions are typically best for Fresh 48 sessions. A full baby is a happy baby when it comes to taking photos of your newborn. Aim to take the photos between breakfast and lunch hours right after you fed your baby.

3. Angles

Downward angles are typically best. You can stand on a stool or chair (be careful) and take photos of your baby from above. You wouldn’t want to take an unflattering photo of your double chin or up your nostrils, so remember this when taking photos of your baby, as well. Instead of looking up into the baby’s nostrils, try shooting from the top of the baby’s head down.

Hospital rooms are very small and can be awkward for photos. It’s all about finding the angles that work best for you during your photoshoot. The most important thing is not to overthink the angles as you’re taking photos of your newborn because you might miss some amazing shots. Take photos from different angles and perspectives (up, down, and all around).

4. Document all the little details

It’s all in the details for Fresh 48 sessions. Your baby will change so quickly, and you only get to see those very first moments one time. From capturing 10 fingers and 10 toes, to the cute baby yawns, hospital bracelets, skin-to-skin, and all of their incredible little expressions, take photos of everything! You can never have too many photos, but you can regret not taking enough in the moment.

5. Prepare and be patient

During the months leading up to giving birth, think about the photos you want to take when the time comes in the hospital. Look at Instagram and Pinterest for some Fresh 48 inspiration and show your partner the type of photographs you want to take. This will help for the photoshoot to go smoother.

During the months leading up to giving birth, think about the photos you want to take when the time comes in the hospital. Look at Instagram and Pinterest for some Fresh 48 inspiration and show your partner the type of photographs you want to take. This will help for the photoshoot to go smoother.

Ideas for special items to bring with you include: a letter board to announce your baby, hello world stickers, special blanket, outfit, or hat. If you decide to bring these items, don’t forget to pack them in your hospital bag and unpack them to use during the photoshoot! 

After your baby is born, don’t try to do everything yourself. You need to recover from giving birth, so while you may want to do it all, remember to relax and ask your partner for assistance with the photographs. If you try to do everything at once, the photos will not come out how you anticipated and there will be a lot of frustration through the process.

Photographing a newborn takes time and patience. Not every photograph will be a good shot, but don’t be afraid to keep taking photos because most of the time, those last images that you almost didn’t take are the best ones.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Since there won’t be a professional photographer present, ask your nurse, doula, birth partner, or midwife to take a few family photos. Even before your baby is born, make it a point that you want to have photos taken of you, your partner, and your baby all together. Even with everything going on right now, most nurses will jump at the opportunity to capture these special moments for you. They have been around so many births that they also might have photo suggestions for you. You might feel awkward asking, but you’ll be so thankful you did. 

7. Top camera tips

Mobile phones can capture amazing photographs. You don’t need to go out and buy a professional camera.

Here are things to remember when using your mobile phone to document your Fresh 48 session:

Wide-angle mode: Since hospital rooms can be hard to take photos in, wide angle mode is recommended to get more included in each shot. Wide angle mode is recommended for the majority of your photos.

Portrait mode: While portrait mode creates a blurred background with a professional depth-of-field look, it doesn’t capture all of the little details in one shot. If you want to use portrait mode, choose a small handful of shots for this. 

Don’t forget to take videos. Videos will be special keepsakes for you to watch later. 

Burst mode: If all else fails, use burst mode to take a series of photographs at one time. Burst mode allows you to take 10 photos per second. This is the best and easiest way to capture all baby movements and action shots.

On an iPhone, instead of lifting your finger up from the shutter button after you take one photograph, keep your finger in place, and when you’re ready to stop taking photos, lift your finger up from the shutter button. You can then see your burst photos in a folder under Photos and you can select the photos you like to keep on your phone.

On Androids, burst mode can be used through third-party apps such as these: 

  • Camera Zoom FX
  • Snap Camera HDR
  • A Better Camera 
  • ProCapture

8. Editing

While photographers can’t be in the hospital room with you, many Fresh 48 photographers, including myself, offer a service to edit the photos you take in the hospital. 

So, don’t worry about getting the absolute perfect shot every time with the best angle and lighting, nothing in the background to distract you from your baby … that’s our job after! A good photographer can take any photograph (that they took or that someone else took) and transform it into something amazing! 

Relax, have fun, and enjoy the moment! Still have questions or looking to have your photos edited? Don’t hesitate to reach out!

In an upcoming blog post, I’ll share my one-page shot list/posting guide, so you can have a list of photo ideas in one place.