Congratulations! You’re having a baby!!
I won’t lie, it’s a whirlwind. And EVERYONE you know is going to have an opinion. Stores are going to try to convince you that you need to fill your house with an intimidatingly massive amount of gear and gadgets. Most of them you’ll never even use, but how are you supposed to figure out what you need and what you don’t? It’s not like you’ve had a baby at home before…
Quick tip: make a wish list or registry on Amazon/Target/etc and let yourself go completely crazy with everything you think you’ll need or want, then sit down with a couple of mom friends and go through it together to have them tell you which items were invaluable to them, and which ones they got but never actually used. (and WHY) Make your own decisions based on their feedback, and you’ll come away with a much more efficiently curated list of gear that will actually be useful!
When it comes to professional photography to capture this newest chapter in your journey, it can be much the same way. There are SO many memories to capture, how do you decide which ones need a professional? Here’s a better way to consider it: what would you want to put on your walls as artwork?? Here’s a timeline of photo opportunities throughout your pregnancy and my thoughts on which to hire a pro for and which to DIY:
- Pregnancy announcement: DIY
- Gender reveal: DIY
- Maternity portraits: Professional
- In the hospital: DIY
- Newborn portraits: Professional
Notice that events are DIYs and “portraits” are for the pro? I firmly believe that every family should have beautiful artwork of themselves in the glow of coming motherhood, and of their beautiful new baby. These things deserve to be immortalized as true heirloom art, and for that you need a true professional with an artistic voice and the skill to execute their vision. You should also NOT try to do a studio newborn style session yourself. There are some significant potential safety issues in not doing some of the poses properly, (for example, some poses are done as a composite of multiple images for safety reasons, and trying to do it in a single capture could be very dangerous) and a professional will know how to execute those poses without risking your baby’s safety. The pregnancy announcement and gender reveal are fun to be sure, but not everyone feels the need to do them, and there are tons of great ideas out there for those that are totally doable on your own.
The documenting of your first hours in the hospital with your brand new baby is the one that could go either way. A professional photographer can create beautiful lifestyle images for you to cherish but, with a bit of advice to guide you, you can do a pretty good job yourself too. The following guide is to help you get beautiful pictures of your newborn in the hospital and, as a bonus, how to announce your new baby on social media.
First and Foremost: LIGHT
Light is the single most important element in your picture and, lets be honest, the light in your hospital room is going to suck. It just is. I have yet to ever see a hospital room with pretty light. But there IS hope. You have a window. That window will give you beautiful, dramatic light that is perfect for the editorial/documentary look we are going for. Here is what you need to know to get good light for your pictures:
- Soften the light: If it’s overcast outside, this has already been done for you. If there are blinds on the window, sometimes you can adjust them to soften the light, just make sure you’re not casting a pattern from the blinds across the room. If you want to bring something from home, a white sheet or sheer curtain works great. If all else fails, position all of your pictures so they are out of the direct path of the light. The point is to not have harsh shadows everywhere with distinct edges.
- Treat that window like the sun: It will cast shadows the same way the sun would. Either lift your subject’s faces toward that light, or turn them all the way away. Whichever one you do, make absolutely sure that your camera is using the face to decide exposure. (Even most cell phone cameras now allow you to choose a point in the frame to determine focus and exposure, but if you’re not sure, play around with whatever camera you’ll be using before the big day so you know how to do it once you’re there.) The idea is that you don’t want shadows cutting directly across the face.
- Be aware of shadows you or other items in the room are casting. You don’t want to turn your subject’s face toward the sun to avoid shadows across the face, only to step directly in front of them and cast a shadow on them yourself.
Our brains LIKE asymmetry, it’s more interesting, and it gives the eye somewhere to go in the picture. If you center your subject, it comes across as blunt and aggressive. Not the tone we want in pictures of a newborn baby. If you move the subject off-center, either to the side or at an angle, it will be a much more pleasing picture. Also be aware of what’s behind your subject. The scene should look natural, but not cluttered, and you want to make sure there’s not an IV stand growing out of someone’s head. Finally, never crop at a person’s joint, it gives the mind the impression that that limb has been amputated.
Suggested Shot List:
Now that you have the tools to take the shots, what shots should you take? Never fear, I have a sample shot list for you:
- Baby in the bassinet
- Close-up of baby’s face
- Family together
- Stat card
- Each family member with baby
- Baby in the bassinet with parents together in the background (looking at either the baby or each other)
- Details around the room (flowers, balloons, etc)
Ok, you have the shots, on to the fun part: announcing your new arrival on social media so your friends and family can ooh and ah over the little darling. When you make your announcement, be sure to include the baby’s full name (leave out the last name if you feel it’s necessary, but presumably the last name can be inferred from your name anyway), date and time of birth, and weight and length at birth. (Trust me, if you don’t include it in your post, a million and one people will make sure to ask.) I’ve included sample wording below, please feel absolutely free to copy/paste it and make any tweaks to customize it to your preferences:
“Ten little fingers and ten little toes! Please join us in celebrating the arrival of our new little snuggle bug. (insert baby’s full name here) came into the world on (date) at (time). (He/She) was born (length) long and weighing (weight).”
Make sure when you add your pictures to the post that you select the picture you want to be featured first. Also make sure you tag your partner so it shows up in their news feed too.
Nothing takes the wind out of your sails like excitedly logging onto Facebook to post your announcement, only to find that someone has beaten you to the punch! Friends and family, in their excitement and support, plaster your feed with well wishes and congratulations before you’ve even had a chance to make your announcement, and by the time you get your post up, the excitement has already started to wind down. For this reason, it is becoming increasingly popular for expectant parents to post preemptive requests for restraint on the part of family and friends. Below is sample wording for a post to that effect. I would recommend posting it around 38 weeks, and with one of those big color backgrounds. (If you go into labor early, post it when you do. People who don’t already know aren’t likely to suspect). A quick search online will also yield plenty of options for premade graphics you can use, (You can also ask your maternity photographer to make a graphic for you out of one of your maternity portraits. This is something I offer my clients. Not all will, but it never hurts to ask!) but again, feel absolutely free to copy/paste this if it suits you best!
“Hello Family and Friends,
We are due to have our baby soon!
We have anxiously awaited this moment for 9 long months.
Please allow us the pleasure of announcing our baby’s arrival.
We thank you ahead of time for not mentioning I’m in labor or that baby is here until we have done so ourselves.”
Interested in booking your professional maternity and newborn sessions? Call 571 882 9153 to schedule your complimentary, no obligation style and concept consultation!