How to Take Your Own Hospital Newborn Photos
Congratulations on your upcoming baby! It’s an exciting time for you and your family. It’s so exciting, and I don’t know a single person who isn’t over the moon and wants to take a million photos. Many people want to hire a photographer or utilize the photographers in the hospital. However, during the pandemic, neither of those are an option. I used to work for a company taking newborn photos in the hospital and now I offer hospital newborn photos through my company. You can learn more about my services not during COVID here. Hopefully, I can help with some tips on how to take hospital newborn photos!
What to pack:
- Pack clothing/swaddle prop options for your baby. Try sticking to 2-3 options max. You don’t want to take photos all day. For my own photos, I had two different swaddles and one sign that said: “one day old.” I have also seen moms do cute letterboards, hello stickers. (Fill out as much of the board as you can before the hospital. They actually take a while to set up!). Here is a cute set I found on amazon
- Pick out something for you to wear. After photographing hundreds of moms in the hospital, I’d say the things that often looked best were just a simple robe. When you get “dressed” it kinda looks out of place. You just had a baby! When picking a robe, black seems slimming, but they pick up tons of lint from the sheets. Stick to a flower pattern, simple stripes, or a lighter solid. I ended up going with this solid Navy. I loved my robe because the tie is connected to the back of it (It helps so you don’t lose it when you untie it!) it also had pockets for my phone when I was wearing it the rest of our stay.
- The one thing I forgot??? Well, our baby came three weeks early! We accidentally hadn’t packed our bags yet, so we quickly packed them that morning. I remembered what baby and I were going to wear, but I forgot to pack something for my husband! All he had was a Star Wars shirt and a plain wrinkled, long sleeve shirt. Thank goodness for Grandmothers and Target Drive Up. I had her pick up a plain grey polo. I still got a shot of my husband in the Star Wars shirt because it was so cute with the matching swaddle. I recommend packing a nice wrinkle-free shirt for your hospital newborn photos.
- Tripod, digital camera, battery, and memory card if you have those. If you don’t have a camera get a tripod for your phone. This is because you can’t have a grandparent or Bella baby take your family photo. You probably will have to buy one, but you will find many holidays it will be very useful to have. I recommend these tripods that are small and packable: This is my favorite cellphone tripod that comes with a ring light! Here is a compact tripod that works with your camera and your phone. This is the professional-grade travel tripod I use.
- Hair and makeup?? Yes… You will feel better if you freshen up. So many moms I have photographed opted out of not taking hospital photos because they didn’t feel their best. And then they regretted it. So spend a little time to freshen yourself to try to get in some photos for the baby when they are older. Packing a light foundation to cover the bags that will probably be under your eyes, some mascara, and lipstick. I love this CC cream from IT cosmetics foundation and it photographs really well. I lucked out and my hair was blown out the day before. Definitely pack a cute scrunchie or a clip! I wore these during birth and love them.
The shot list
When you are going into a shoot, you always need your shot list and the amount of time you would like to shoot. When I was working in hospitals, our goal was 20 minutes with 20 final photos. It is hard to do but can be done. You do not need 100 good images from the hospital. Here is my shot list:
Baby in bassinet
Baby on bed
Baby with Mom
Baby with partner
Baby with parents
Babies hospital tag
Babies stats on the whiteboard
Photograph your newborn a little before or after high noon, depending on what direction your windows face. The most important thing is: Before taking the photos, turn off all the lights in your room. Hospital lights make the baby more orange and cast yellow tones on them. They are already very orange and blotchy, so it makes it worse. This is a crucial thing!
The details on how to take the hospital photos:
Baby in Hospital Gear: Swaddle your baby in the hospital swaddle then place them in the bassinet. Roll the bassinet near the window and put the break on. Shoot with your back to the window, angle their face to the window. Shoot above the baby and on an angle. When shooting above, be VERY careful not to drop your phone on the baby. If you have a camera, always wear the strap.
Baby in your swaddle: Change the baby into your swaddle. Pro tip: use a second swaddle as the “backdrop.” Remove the hospital blanket from around the mattress pad and wrap your swaddle around it. Retake the shots. You can find cute sets from Monica & Andy, Amazon, or other boutiques.
Props: Now maybe add a “Hello” name tag, a wood sign, or a letter board. Retake the shots. Do horizon and vertical
On the bed:
If you want some out of the bassinet, fix the sheets and lay them flat. Sometimes the hospital has extra sheets in the closet. Pull them out and use those so they are less wrinkled.
Photos of your partner and the baby:
have them hold the baby looking at you, facing the window smiling, smiling looking down, then bring baby up closer to their head looking at them, then so close they are smelling babies head before kissing. Kissing the baby often makes our lips too smooshie, so I don’t recommend that position. Then put the baby on their shoulder carefully with the baby’s head facing out. Lastly, sometimes having them sit on the couch, holding arms out straight with the baby looking up at them from far away is so sweet. Again, horizontals and verticles.
Photos together: place the iPhone or camera with the screen to the window on a tripod. I recommend these tripods that are small and packable: This is my favorite cellphone tripod. Here is a compact tripod that comes with an adapter for your phone as well! This is the professional-grade travel tripod I use.
Setup the timer on the iPhone:
- Open the camera app, swipe down. You will get options on the bottom of the screen with a stopwatch. Select it and choose 3s or 10s. If you have a tripod I highly recommend using the actual lens on the back of the phone vs. the selfie side with the screen. The back camera is more reliable. If you don’t have a tripod rest the camera on a ledge of something. You also can use your Apple Watch as a timer! Go to the camera app, select the 3s timer button.
- If you have your DSLR camera, use the timer app. Some cameras can do burst mode and take multiple photos. With my camera, I do as many as 30 pictures every second.
Posing for a group shot:
Face the window. Hold the baby up, and possibly the baby's face if you can. Take a couple looking at the camera and a couple looking at each other, then look at the baby.
Now take details of the baby’s hands, feet and even ears are cute! I also took pictures of the whiteboard and hospital tags.
Ok, that is your shot list for how to take Hospital Newborn Photos! Have fun taking these. Now to edit… I have made my preset to help edit. The preset works with the free lightroom app. Download the app and if you buy them there are instructions on how to download and use them. Or you can edit on your own in the app. Have fun, get creative! Here are some before and after of hospital photos from my clients using the app: