• Shannon Konek

DIY Your Own Fresh 48 Session - Three Tips! | Pittsburgh Area Photographer

So here we are. *Hopefully* approaching the peak, and then the retreat, of new Covid-19 cases in the US. While the present is not a time that most of us want to be anywhere near a hospital, I know lots of mamas due with their babies in the coming weeks and months. It’s a scary and uncertain time to be bringing life into this world, and I give all the respect to those courageous moms. We always go into parenthood not fully knowing what to expect, and that is intimidating enough. But who knew we’d be here? Not me, that is for sure.

In light of all the extra safety measures we’ve taken on, most (all?) hospitals have restricted visitors, so it's no surprise that photographers are not able to visit hospitals or birthing centers to capture baby’s first days.

Despite this, it’s still possible to capture those sweet moments to cherish. And I am going to give you my best advice for doing so yourself.

Tip One: Lighting.

The first thing I do when I enter a hospital room, or a house for that matter, is to turn off all artificial lighting, and open all the blinds and curtains on windows. There is no better light for your photos than that from the sun. (Even if it's overcast!) Why? In part this has to do with white balance - the color of sunlight is different than artificial lighting. And artificial lighting is colored differently from all other artificial lighting. And while our eyeballs are pretty good at sorting that out, the technology in your camera or phone is just not there yet. So different colors of light often result in really wonky, unflattering-looking skin tones. The other part is light direction. Sun light from your window is coming from one direction. And it’s usually diffused a good bit. So shadows will also fall in one direction, not compete with each other, and they tend to be softer.

Along these lines: Turn off any flash your camera or phone might have. The flash can cause harsh shadows and unflattering skin tones, as well.

Don’t have a window in your room? You poor thing. I would recommend using ONE light source, preferably a table or floor lamp, and not the overhead light. See what the photos look like. Too dark? Try turning on one more light. Do your best with what you got!

Tip Two: Camera Settings

If you are using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, and you usually shoot in Auto mode, switch your camera to Aperture Priority Mode. In this mode you can choose the aperture of your lens, and the camera will make the other decisions (shutter speed and ISO) for you. Set your aperture as wide as your lens will go. Not so intuitively, the wider the aperture, the smaller the f-stop number (cause it’s actually a fraction, ya’ll). A wider aperture will let more light in, which is ideal for indoors, especially since you turned off all the lights. It also gives you a shallower depth of field, which means your subject will be in focus, and the foreground and background will be blurry.

So, small f-stop number.

Are you using a smartphone? I’ve heard great things about Portrait Mode. My phone is like 5 years old (basically an artifact at this point) so I sadly can’t give you any pointers, there.

Tip Three: What to Photograph?

The baby? Duh, Shannon. I mean besides the obvious: Photograph the details. Allll the little details. New little ones change soooo fast, which is one of the reasons why I love doing Fresh 48s. Some of those little details change or disappear in a week or less! Yawns, cries, sleepy smiles. The tiny wrinkly toes and fingers, peely new baby skin that’s just met fresh air for the first time, the vernix that protected his or her skin in utero, the umbilical stump that reminds us how recently he or she was physically connected to mom. That stuff.

The environment. The hospital setting is also something novel that’s going to quickly fade from memory. And it’s often so much more emotionally charged than you realize at that moment. I love getting lots of shots of the babe in the hospital bassinet, babe on the bed, wrapped in those hospital receiving blankets, hospital bands around their tiny wrists and ankles.

Mom too! If you're reading this, and you're the mom-to-be, please ask a nurse or your partner to get a few photos of you and the baby. You probably won’t feel your best or most glamorous, but I promise you, you want these photos. I took a crappy, grainy phone-selfie of myself holding each of my babies on their first day of life, and even though they aren’t great photos by any technical means, and I am makeupless and sleep deprived, I cherish them.

Other stuff:

Pay attention to angles and composition. This is one of the best ways to add interest and dimension to your photography. Play around with shooting from different angles If you’re photographing humans, it's usually a good idea to take the photo from slightly above. This angle is more flattering than others. Have someone (who hasn’t just given birth, ahem) quickly tidy up the room. No need to deep clean of course, just move the empty soda bottles and cafeteria trays out of frame.

Well, guys, that's what I have. What other questions do you have about taking your own Fresh 48? Feel free to shoot me a message!

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