You don't have to be a professional photographer to get amazing birth photos of your new baby. With a few helpful tips, you can document the entire birth process in a way that is tasteful, beautiful, and above-all, meaningful.
Photograph the Power and Beauty of Labor
Nothing brings out the strength and beauty of a woman like the process of labor and delivery. However, there are some important things to remember when taking photos of a mom-to-be during this time.
Be There for Her First
Unless you are a friend or family member who is there mainly to photograph the birth, your first duty will be to the mom-to-be. Before you even begin to reach for the camera, make sure she has everything she needs right now and is comfortable being photographed. Even if you have discussed taking photos beforehand, ask her again now to make sure she feels the same way.
Use (and Know) the Camera You Have
If you have a DSLR, that's fantastic. The ideal here is a fast prime lens, such as a 50mm f/1.8 or 35mm f/1.4, but a zoom lens will work well too. Remember, you can also get great birth photos with a phone camera. Either way, the key here is knowing how to use your camera and understanding the type of pictures your camera can take. If you have a few minutes, take some time to practice with the camera.
Show the Details
The beauty of this moment is in the details. Capturing these will let you show the whole story. Try to get some of the following shots:
- Walking out the door to go to the hospital
- Her open hospital bag
- Close shot of her face
- Wide shot of her during a contraction
- You, a friend, a family member, or a doula offering comfort and support
- Laughing or relaxing between contractions
- Her hand on her back or belly
Capture the Moment of Birth
The moment of birth is an incredible event, something you will never forget. Having beautiful photos of this event will let you relive it in years to come, and you can even share these images with your baby one day. Keep these tips in mind to get the photos you want.
Decide Ahead of Time How Much to Show
Before the actual birth, talk to the mom-to-be about how much she wants captured. Does she want a photo of the baby actually emerging into the world? Would she prefer images that don't show anything too private? Get a sense for what she wants before you begin snapping.
Know Where You Need to Be
As the moment of birth approaches, you may need to hand the camera off to someone else. If you're the mom-to-be's partner, you may need to be near her and have someone else document the actual birth. If you are free to take photos, talk to hospital staff about where you can stand to remain out of the way. Pay close attention to where people are moving and do your best to avoid interfering. If someone asks you to move, always do so respectfully.
Choose the Best Angle
One of the best angles is to stand near the head of the bed, to one side of the mom-to-be. Here, you can be out of the way and still capture her facial expression and the moment the baby emerges (without showing too much she may not want recorded). However, this angle may not work for every situation. As she is in hard labor, take time to move around and try some different angles.
Don't Stop Shooting
Set your camera to shoot continuously if you hold down the shutter button. This will give you lots of choices for the perfect shot of the moment of birth. However, don't stop shooting when the baby is born. Shoot more. Move around; capture reactions. Get a shot of the baby being placed on the mother's chest. Show the faces of those present. This is a moment of high emotion, and you'll find every shot you take will be important later.
Take Pictures of Baby's First Moments
The moments after the baby's birth are just as beautiful as the actual birth itself. Take photos of everyone's interactions, the baby in the hospital, and important first meetings. Here's how.
Capture Weighing and Measuring
Again, making sure you don't interfere with the work of the medical staff, be sure you snap some photos of the baby being weighed and measured. If you can, take these from further back, showing the scale, the hands of the maternity ward nurses, the measuring tape, and other details.
Snap Those First Family Photos
The first meetings are some of the sweetest moments you'll capture of your baby's birth. These are a few you'll want to get:
- Mom and baby - Start by getting some images of the mother holding the baby. Take these shots from one side of the bed, making sure light is hitting the baby's face.
- First family photo - Pose everyone on the hospital bed. Take a moment to see where the light is coming from - think window, lamps, or overhead - and direct everyone to sit so this light touches their faces.
- First meetings - When grandparents, siblings, and other important people meet the baby for the first time, have your camera ready. Move a side chair over by the window so some of the daylight falls on them.
Record the Baby in the Hospital Bassinet
You can capture that iconic shot of your baby in a hospital bassinet. The key here is light. Roll the bassinet over to the window, so the light falls from one side and down on your baby's face. Take photos from directly above, as well as from both sides. If you can, underexpose the shot just a little to give the image a romantic look.
A Time to Remember
From the first labor pains to those beautiful moments in the hospital, a baby's birth is a time to remember. By getting some great photos of the experience, you'll be able to record it for the future. You'll love looking through these shots years from now, maybe even when this baby is grown up.