• Melissa Sheridan

10 Tips for Taking Your Own Fresh 48 Photos

Updated: May 25

In light of the COVID-19 virus, expecting moms and dad are faced with new challenges from limiting who can be in the delivery room to limiting contact with the baby after he or she is born. My heart goes out to new moms expecting babies in the coming weeks and months in this uncertain time in our society.


Fresh 48 sessions are some of my absolute favorite to document. It's extremely special to be invited in to document a baby at just hours or days old, as new as they can be. These photos are so meaningful, full of emotion, and such a beautiful way to document their newest family member. Sadly, Fresh 48 sessions will definitely not be happening right now with the way things have progressed.


If you're one of my clients who will now be forgoing a Fresh 48 session or are just looking for ways you can do this yourself, here's my top 10 tips for taking your own Fresh 48 photos.



1. Use a camera you're familiar with.

If you have a DSLR, but have no idea how to use it or it's 5 years old or older, post-birth is probably not the time to try to figure it out. If you do own a DSLR and use it but in auto mode, great. Don't worry about trying to become a professional here. If you just have an iPhone or smart phone camera, that will do. As long as it's something you know how to use.


2. Find good lighting.


I recommend taking your photos in the morning or but when the sun isn’t shinning directly into your room/harsh. Open up all the curtains & blinds on every window that is available in your room.


If you open the blinds and it's way too harsh and creating shadows, pick a different time of day. Late afternoon sometimes work too, depending on the direction your room is facing.


3. Ask a nurse for help.

Ask your nurse to swaddle your baby. They are pros at this with years of experience and can get that really clean & tight swaddle that you want for photos. My biggest recommendation is to take photos of your baby in the hospital provided swaddle & either just a diaper or plain onesie.


You can use a swaddle of your own or some outfits, but sometimes those stylistic choices will fade over time & it’s nice to have those “classic & timeless” looks too. Remember that you don't need a ton of props and I don't usually use any other than a letter board sometimes for these sessions.


4. Use the bassinet.



Position it & baby in front of the biggest window in the room. Put the bassinet at a slight angle so you have flatting shadows.


5. It's all about Angles.

While taking pictures of your baby, angle your camera or phone so that you are not shooting straight up your babies nose. I “shoot down the nose” so that you aren’t looking up your babies nostrils (it's not flattering and makes their head look bigger too).


Take some photos from straight above so your camera is parallel to the floor, from the side, from the head, & from the feet. Make sure to get some from close up and further away to get your babies full body in the photo.


6. Focus on the details.


I always take a lot of detail shots, anything from the hospital room number to the name card in the baby's bassinet.


Baby details are a must too. To capture baby's details, I usually place baby in the bassinet, unwrap them gently and take shots of their feet, hands, ears, eyes, etc. If baby is unsettled, hold them with your hands to calm them and take the photo anyway.


7. Don't forget to document yourself.

If you have someone to help you, get some photos of you holding the baby too. The shot below is a great example of using window light to light the photo and create a dramatic and flattering look.


Although most moms are a bit camera shy after all that's just happened post-birth, remember you don't have to share these images. They can be just for you. Motherhood is beautiful in all forms.


8. Tips for family shots


Now is honestly probably not the time to use a tripod. I would honestly just ask a nurse, so you are not packing one more thing with you in your stay. Phone tripods are also sometimes really hard to get the right angle with, so beware!

For family shots, I usually put everyone on the bed together with mom in the middle and holding the baby. I find photos more natural if everyone is looking at/interacting with the baby.


Sometimes the traditional "smile and look at the camera" type photo doesn't work as well for this type of session. Just relax and keep it natural. Remember to smile!


You can get creative with angles, like above, but also remember that nurses are not photographers (although, I would bet some of them are not bad at this since I'm sure they're asked to do this all the time!).


9. Edit the photos.

Photos are rarely ever perfect straight out of camera, even when shot at the perfect settings from a professional. A few simple tweaks can make or break a photo. You can download Lightroom mobile to edit your photos. Keep editing simple and try not to "over edit" which is the most common mistake. If the photo looks unnatural to you, it is over-edited.


Try to keep whites looking white - sometimes editing can go too red, green, blue, or orange before you know it. Sometimes, playing with exposure, shadows, contrast, and sharpening is all you really need to enhance your photos.


10. Don’t stress.


Easier said than done in a time like this, but really. Don't stress yourself out over this. Adjust your expectations if you had a professional photographer hired who is now not allowed to come to the hospital in this time.


If you envisioned certain family photos or grandma holding the new baby, think ahead and do a family lifestyle session instead. My back up in case Fresh 48 sessions don't happen (I'm sick, mom had complications/doesn't feel up for it anymore, etc.), is to offer an in-home lifestyle session instead.

While it may have to be a few months after the baby is born instead of them being a newborn, it will still be a beautiful way to document your growing family. If you booked a Fresh 48 session that is no longer happening, your photographer should easily transfer any money you paid to another session type for a later date. Win, win!


I hope these tips helped! I am praying for expecting moms right now with all that is going on that you and your babies will be well and that family who is eager to meet your new little one will be able to do so sooner than later. You will get through this!


xo Melissa


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MELISSA SHERIDAN PHOTOGRAPHY © 2020

CHARLOTTESVILLE VIRGINIA WEDDING & PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER