10 Tips for diy fresh 48 portraits

The COVID-19 crisis has affected us all in some way. Myself and my family are doing our part to flatten the curve. Unfortunately, that means not taking on any clients. Photography is not an essential business and is not vital to life (although my soul would disagree). This is totally uncharted territory for us all. 

My heart especially breaks for those mother's in their 3rd trimester, due to deliver any day. They won't be able to have maternity, birth, Fresh 48, or newborn photos- among a whole host of other things. All of these are once in a lifetime events. My heart truly breaks that I won't be there to capture these moments for you so that you can focus solely on your baby and your family. Remembering to take photographs during this time is just one more thing a new mama will have on her plate. 

So, I've been thinking and I've tried to come up with some tips and tricks to help you document these precious days. Whether you have an iPhone or a DSLR or a point and shoot camera, the principles are the same.

  1.  Turn off all of the artificial light and move towards that window! Natural light and artificial light have different color tones. Eliminating that artificial lighting will get rid of unwanted color casts and unflattering shadows under the eyes, nose, and chin. Just roll that little bassinet right over to that window and take a few minutes to analyze the direction of the light and the intensity. If you think it's too bright, back the bassinet up a bit. 
  2.  Turn OFF the flash on your phone or camera. Let the natural light do it's thing. If you are not using a speedlight where you can manipulate the direction that the light is coming from, then just turn it off. It will be facing straight ahead and wash out your photos. 
  3.  Don't worry about complicated poses. As a documentary photographer, I wouldn't do that anyways. Let's focus on the real, the authentic, the here and now. These moments are fleeting. I would undress baby down to the diaper and start from there (I've provided a "shot list" at the bottom of this blog for you!) Then, to get variety, I'd swaddle them back up and take a few in their iconic "hospital blanket". Then, I'd get them dressed in their super cute little gowns and outfits you brought from home. PASS THE CAMERA OFF to someone and let them snap pictures of you getting your little one dressed. Then take pictures of that little baby all dressed up! Let them be natural. Think about it this way- they are just now able to stretch their limbs after the confinement of the womb for 9 months! Capture those first little stretches! 
  4.  Get close. Get those little DETAILS. Don't get too close though- they will be blurry. Every little part of their body you can think of, even their little umbilical stump! To round out the story, I would even be sure to document room details as well. 
  5.  Move around the bassinet (or the subject that you are shooting) to get new angles. Sometimes you just need to move around the subject to get a whole different perspective on the same "pose" (I say pose like that because we aren't actually posing them!). Take a few close ups, a few a little further back, and a few even further back. 
  6.  Dads, take pictures of moms attempting to nurse that first time. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn't. Talk ahead of time about this and make sure she's comfortable, and if she is, take pictures of the hard moments too. 
  7.  Take pictures of each other holding and cuddling baby. You've waited so long to hold that little human. Try to capture what that moment feels like. It's not always "look at the camera and smile". 
  8.  Try to avoid shooting from a downward angle and shooting up. One thing you kind of want to avoid is seeing someone's full nostrils- baby's included. It's just unflattering. Try to shoot from a slightly upward angle to get the best shot. 
  9.  Be still. Hold yourself as still as possible to avoid motion blur in your pictures. If you need a little extra support holding your camera still, try tucking your elbows close to your sides. That usually can help stabilize your hands. You can even prop your elbows on a surface to help if that doesn't work. You know those hospital tables that roll around? That may be a good option for you if you need some stability. 
  10.  Be patient and give yourself grace. You've got some time. It doesn't have to happen all at once. Just keep the camera handy and your eyes open for good opportunities. They will come and they will be there, just be ready for them. 

baby toes in hospital blanket and hospital bassinet in norfolk, virginia

DIY Fresh 48 Sample shot list

  • full face
  • side profile
  • top of head (let hair be the focus)
  • toes
  • fingers
  • umbilical stump
  • ears
  • full feet
  • full hands
  • hospital bracelet (also pair with moms bracelet)
  • mom cuddling baby
  • mom nursing (if she's okay with it) OR giving bottle
  • full body stretched out in bassinet
  • lips
  • wrapped up in hospital blanket
  • the process of getting baby dressed
  • fully dressed in outfit from home
  • dad holding baby/baby on dad's chest
  •  baby resting in Mom's lap (shot from above)
  •  yawning 
  • stretching
  • awake/alert
  • sleeping all wrapped up in swaddle
  •  zoomed out shot of bassinet in front of hospital window
  • room details
  • mom resting

baby boy in the hospital bassinet in norfolk, virginia

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I just wanted you to have a helpful resource and something to help guide you through. Everyone is tired after labor. The adrenaline wears off and everything becomes hazy and dreamlike. This is part of the appeal of having a professional photographer come in and do this for you- you don't have to think about it. Hopefully having a guide will help you get those once in a lifetime shots. Use your imagination. Everyone's story is a different and unique, just like them. Did this blog help you at all? Did I leave anything out? Want me to add something? Tell me in the comments below! 

post pandemic update

I am back in action and I am able to be in the hospitals/birthing centers photographing beautiful post-labor sessions again. If you're interested in booking a Fresh 48 Session with me and capturing all that newness, please reach out to me using my contact form!