Bluebird Chic ambassador Maryam Salassi of Hi + Hello Photography shares her best tips for photographing newborns and tells us what she loves most about “capturing the new.”
There’s something so magical about a freshly-born baby. The newness of their tiny bodies, the mewling cries, the yawns…it’s all so awe-inspiring!
My favorite type of newborn session is called a Fresh 48 session.
These sessions are done within the first 48 hours of baby’s life and usually at the place of birth whether that is at a hospital, at home, or at a birthing center.
The goal is to document the first hours of the baby’s life, meeting new family members, and just photographing all those sweet little details that change so quickly.
I love documenting new life, but I also love the challenge of photographing in hospitals. Lighting is usually very tricky and it can take some finagling to get the look you want.
I personally tend to shoot a little darker and moodier, so I enjoy using single windows as a light source, and just bumping up my ISO to make up for the light I don’t have. One thing I suggest to my clients during consults is to request a room with a window and let the staff know they have a photographer coming. So far I’ve had good luck with that, and even when a client has a shared room, they’ve been put on the window side (yay!).
That being said, I do always have a flash with me just in case! It’s always best to have one and not use it, than need a bit more light and not have any way to add it.
For these sessions, it’s easy to get lost in tiny newborn fingers and toes, but the whole point is to document this part of the family’s life so don’t forget to get a few wide shots of the room, shots of the family all together, and shots of whatever is happening in the room while you’re there (first baths, hearing tests, nurses checking vitals, etc).
I try to get the wide shots done first, to give a sense of space, then get in closer.
If baby is in the bassinet I capture an overhead shot, closeups of their sweet little face from different angles, and then have dad pick the baby up for a few shots before moving over to mom.
While I love seeing newborn babies, one thing I don’t do is touch them. Instead, I have parents do the holding and swaddling and feeding and cooing. I absolutely love getting photos of dads swaddling (dads tend to be the best at it!), moms breastfeeding, and detail shots of the little touches parents give their babies.
I do this for two reasons, one is that I really just want that interaction between my subjects, and two, even though I have my shots, I do have a kiddo and don’t want to inadvertently pass along germs.
It’s always an honor to be trusted by a family to photograph such a momentous occasion, and I love being a part of the story in a tiny way.
I hope 2018 will bring many more Fresh 48 sessions my way!
Maryam Salassi of Hi + Hello Photography is an in-home family lifestyle photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is super chill and tends to choose sneakers over heels. When she’s not photographing fun families, she loves experimenting with film cameras, spending time with her own awesome family, hiking, reading, or just generally being supercool.