Are you a photographer interested in photographing a Fresh 48 newborn session? This post is for you!
When I first added newborns to my portfolio, I started with lifestyle at-home sessions. Lifestyle newborn sessions generally take place in the first 5-14 days of life. They are lightly posed and styled and incorporate many home and nursery details. Fresh 48 sessions are totally different. As the name indicates, these sessions take place around the 48 hour mark in the new baby’s birth space. Most commonly, the birth space is a hospital room, but it can also be a home or birth center. For the sake of these tips, I am going to focus on hospital rooms.
Lens Choices for a Hospital Room.
Here in the Boston area, our city hospital rooms are old and cramped with small windows. While they make a fine place to rest, recover and bond with your baby, they are not the ideal photographer’s room. When it comes to selecting a lens for photographing a Fresh 48 session, I recommend as wide as possible. Last year, I had two lens choices– my 35mm f1.4 and my 24-70 f2.8. While the 24-70 had an ideal focal length at its widest, the limitations of the f2.8 in low light were frustrating. Because of this, my 35mm was my lens of choice. Being able to open up to f1.4 was crucial for getting enough light with small windows.
My 35mm is typically my choice for most indoor sessions, but I found myself back-pressed-against-the-wall time and time again during these birth space photo sessions. At the beginning of this year, I moved forward with purchasing a 24mm f1.4 and I can boldly say it is the ideal lens for photographing babies in tight spaces. It combines the focal distance I need with the aperture capabilities I desire. If you don’t own this particular lens, renting one would be a good choice!
Bonus: this focal length lets you achieve those over-the-crib shots without having to stand on anything!
Make the Most of the Natural Light.
Artificial, overhead lighting flatters no one. Not even supermodels! While it might seem tempting to turn on the hospital room lighting on a dark day, DON’T DO IT. When you go home and attempt to edit in a mixed lighting situation, you will have so many regrets. What you want to do instead is make that window your best friend. All (most?) hospital furniture is on wheels. The crib, the reclining chair, the bed…it’s all moveable. If you’re photographing a Fresh 48 on a particularly dreary light day, move everything closer to the window. Turn your subjects faces towards that window and use it to the best of your ability.
Birth Space Sessions are Documentary Based.
This is not the session to worry about perfection. Earlier I mentioned that lifestyle newborn sessions are lightly posed and styled. This means that I am photographing real emotions/connections in a beautiful way. Fresh 48 or birth space sessions tend to trend towards the documentary photography end of the spectrum. This means that they are more true-to-life, less styled, more “real”. Striving for perfection is a recipe for making a newly post-partum mom stressed or self-conscious during a time that she should be focused only on bonding with her new baby. Some key things to not shy away from photographing: swaddling attempts, “ugly” newborn hospital clothes, umbilical cord stump, wrinkled/red/purple feet, those initial feeds (if mom is comfortable), burping, yawning, diaper changing. It’s all cute when you’re only 48 hours old!
Under-Promise + Over-Deliver Those Image Files!
As photographers, we know that word of mouth is king when it comes to advertising. There is nothing a new mom wants more than to share images of her new baby! My recommendation is to get those images to her as fast as you can. In this day and age of cell phones, the faster she has those professional images, the more of them she will share on social media and with friends and family.
Good luck photographing your next Fresh 48 photography session!