newborn hospital photography tips

Photographer Stays at Home: DIY newborn hospital photography

I just got off the phone with a long time client.  She shared her worries, woes, and heartache as she approaches her c-section “due date” tomorrow.  There will be no big fanfare.  No family at the hospital.  And, the saddest part for those of us who love pictures, no photographer at the hospital.

We managed to get in her maternity session in late February, before all the madness descended on the Metro Detroit area.  Her pictures were gorgeous and I hugged e v e r y b o d y at the end, especially her cutie twinsies.  I feel like these people are family and not being with them at this time is kind of killing me.

Staying home is the hardest way of helping for me.  I want to be doing.  So, with the help of my children, one stuffed penguin, and a tripod I fortuitously purchased last December, I made you a video and wrote you some notes in case you find yourself in the same predicament and needing some diy newborn hospital photography tips.  Feel free to message me for any other advice you don’t see listed here.  I need to be helping!  Good luck!


There are three parts to taking your own hospital baby pictures.  You need to know WHAT you’re shooting, HOW you’re shooting, and what EQUIPMENT you need to shoot.  Let’s start with the most fun part first:  What to Shoot!


Before shooting any session I walk through my shot list in my mind.  For a hospital session you only really need about 12 shots to capture everything that you want (and then you can back to recovering!).

Here’s my simple shot list for Newborn Hospital Pictures:

Photos of Baby
Overhead of baby (full shot)
head & shoulders shot of baby
shooting down the body from the head
shooting up the body from the feet (focused on feet)
shooting up the body from the feet (focused on sign or detail in the cradle)
(detail shot of hands) – optional
(detail shot of feet) – optional, always be sure to follow hospital protocol if your baby needs to be swaddled for temperature purposes

Photos of Parents
Mom with Baby
Dad with Baby
Overhead shot of baby in a parent’s arms

Photo of Parents (using tripod)
Parents together holding baby
Parents peering over cradle at baby

Turn abut half of these into black and photos and you have a beautiful collection.


First, I’m going to tell you that you don’t need a fancy camera to get great photos.  It definitely helps and it can elevate your work from cell phone look to pro, but you can still have amazing pictures with a point and shoot camera or even a cell phone!  In fact, everything I show below (the 12 shots in order) were taken with a point and shoot camera on auto setting.

LIGHT is the most important factor in getting great photos at the hospital.  Position your baby with some beautiful side light coming in from a window.  If your pictures are looking too dark (even on auto mode) most cameras will allow you to adjust the ISO.  Higher ISO will allow for more light, but may also create more grain in your images.  This can look amazing in black and white, but may not be ideal for the look you want.  Practice at home to determine just how high you can push your ISO in low light and still have a great image.  Point and shoot cameras can sometimes go as high as 800.  Professional Full Frame cameras can push 2500!

If you absolutely need some camera settings, I would start here and adjust accordingly starting with ISO: f/4, ISO 400, 1/200

Whatever you do, DO NOT use your pop up flash to take these pictures. 


This list should be kept short and simple:

a neutral swaddle blanket (I LOVE these ones that are worth the investment)
a camera (of any kind, but my favorite point and shoot is the Nikon Coolpix B500
memory card
tripod (and kind will do, but I like ones with a quick release plate you can get tripods for phones too!)

Take a test shot at home before you leave or pack up your camera.  This GUARANTEES that your camera is in perfect working order!  I can’t tell you how many times that’s saved me because I took a battery out to charge or left a memory card at home!


Here’s a video tutorial where I shoot all the images I listed.  It may be helpful to see exactly where I stand for these images.


Using my daughter’s penguin as an example, here are the final images that I took during the above video.  I used limited editing and shot everything with a point and shoot Nikon camera.

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