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Tips for Taking Birth Photos

Ideas for Memorable Labor and Delivery Photography

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Updated June 28, 2014

Mixed race mother taking picture of newborn baby
Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images

When you're packing for your hospital stay, it's a good idea to spend some time planning for your birth photos. The opportunity to take pictures of your baby's birth only comes once, so it's best to be prepared when the moment arrives.

Taking Pictures of Childbirth

Even if you normally just snap pictures with your camera phone, it's a good idea to bring along a separate digital camera for the big day. While the quality of camera phone pictures has improved dramatically in recent years, they are still not as sharp as photos taken with a regular digital camera. For a once-in-a-lifetime event like your baby's birth, you want your pictures to be as good as possible!

Many parents invest in a new camera as they're preparing for the birth of their baby Although this isn't a necessarily a bad idea, make sure both you and your partner know how to use the camera you bring to the hospital. It's hard to get good birth photos if you're flipping through an instruction manual or randomly poking buttons in an attempt to change the camera settings.

Remember to check that the camera has a fully charged battery and an empty memory card before the big day. You should also pack an extra battery and an extra memory card just in case there are technical problems at the hospital.

Important Birth Pictures to Take

Even if you're normally the designated family photographer, you're going to need some help taking pictures of your new baby. Make a list of desired shots to give to the person you wish to put in charge of the photography. Labor and delivery photography is somewhat controversial, since many women feel uncomfortable about being photographed during their actual birth experience. If you'd rather leave the camera off during this time, some possibilities for newborn baby photography include:

  • The doctor holding the baby just after he is born
  • Cutting the cord
  • Baby being weighed on the scale
  • Baby with Mom
  • Baby with Dad
  • First family portrait with baby, Mom, and Dad
  • First visitors, including older siblings and grandparents
  • Feeding baby
  • Detail shots, especially baby's tiny hands and feet
  • Baby with nurses and doctors who helped with his care
  • Baby with special gifts received from the hospital, such as a handmade blanket or knitted cap

When taking pictures at the hospital, turn off the flash and open the windows to take advantage of whatever natural light is available. Babies are often distressed by flash photography and the glare of the flash will create unpleasant shadows in your photos.

Taking pictures in portrait mode (typically indicated with a silhouette icon) will often result in some nice shots at the hospital, especially when photographing your baby being held by visitors. For close-up shots of baby's tiny hands and feet, use the macro mode (typically indicated with a small flower icon) on your camera.

Hiring a Professional

In most cases, mothers have their partners or a trusted family member handle taking the birth photos. However, you can choose to hire a professional photographer if you wish. Some hospitals have their own birth photographer on staff. You can also hire a portrait photographer who specializes in taking pictures of children to come to the hospital for your baby's first photo session. If you opt to hire a professional photographer, ask to see a portfolio of work samples so you can be sure you're getting the type of birth photos you want.

Sharing Your Birth Photos

Friends and family who are too far away to come visit your baby in the hospital will likely be eager to see pictures from this special event. One easy way to share a large collection of photos without spending a small fortune on printed copies is to make a Smilebox slideshow. This site lets you make a slideshow featuring your photos, videos, and music in a professionally designed template. You can post your finished slideshow on Facebook, burn it to a DVD, or load it onto a digital photo frame for a special grandparent gift.

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