The First Hours

Your baby has just been born. It’s unbelievably small and vulnerable, delicate and beautiful, amazing and dependent. This is a very special moment in your life and wouldn’t it be prefect to capture a beautiful portrait of your baby at the very start of their life – before you even leave the hospital and it already feels different. So what’s stopping you? 

Say hello to Hermione, her first portrait ever just a few hours of her birth. She’s actually yawning not crying but it was such a great moment I had to use it for our online announcement to friends and family.

Say hello to Hermione, her first portrait ever just a few hours of her birth. She’s actually yawning not crying but it was such a great moment I had to use it for our online announcement to friends and family.

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Well, you’re exhausted from the birth process, tired and emotion like you’ve never been before in your life. You feel anxious at being responsible for a human life, perhaps for the first time ever, distracted by all of the activities around you of the ongoing maternity ward, concerned over the noisy stress inducing crying and alternatively eerie stillness that makes you constantly check the baby is still breathing and accidentally waking it up again. That’s all? Well you most likely didn’t pack your camera or think about preparing a few props.

I understand. In fact it wasn’t until the birth of my third daughter that I had the nerve to pull my camera out of the bag in the first few hours and take a good photo. But I was determined to get it right this time. At the previous birth I got a shot of Pandora wrapped in the unattractive hospital sheets with my phone and while a great memory it’s not a great photo.


When there isn’t a great range of backgrounds and only one light source a backlit shot is always a good approach to keep the shot celan.

When there isn’t a great range of backgrounds and only one light source a backlit shot is always a good approach to keep the shot celan.

At first glance it might seem that there is no chance of getting good photographs here as it is cramped, busy with other patients, dressed with a variety of clashing fabrics and only one option as a light source. But with a little bit of creativity you can get great portraits of your baby in a public maternity ward. In the top left corner insert you can see the props I brought with me, two pillow cases and a onesie. It took only minutes to prepare and to set up and was well worth it.

At first glance it might seem that there is no chance of getting good photographs here as it is cramped, busy with other patients, dressed with a variety of clashing fabrics and only one option as a light source. But with a little bit of creativity you can get great portraits of your baby in a public maternity ward. In the top left corner insert you can see the props I brought with me, two pillow cases and a onesie. It took only minutes to prepare and to set up and was well worth it.

So remembering the functional hospital garments I came prepared, and it wasn’t that difficult. I brought a kit stuffed into the maternity bag of two white pillow cases and a basic white onesie for the baby. I just wanted a clean simple shot of the baby without any distractions. And of course one camera and one lens. Not a lot to prepare considering the other contents of the bag.

I didn’t know where or when the it was going to take place and in the end we were in far from in an ideal setting for a shoot. But I was still able to get decent light from one window at the end of the narrow ward.

I replaced the blue well worn sheets in the hospital crib with my white pillow cases. I’m glad I brought two as the dark red mattress would have shown through the one case. I positioned the baby quickly and started to take some shots. Obviously I don’t have too long in this situation so I spent no more than few minutes shooting the baby on her own and another 5 or so with her mother holding her - and she did a fantastic job of standing and holding the baby so soon after giving brith. 

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the need to have plan you shot, even if it’s only a few minuted ahead of time. Lola was keen to get a shot of her holding her new baby. But she only had enough energy to stand for a few minutes at the most as she had just given birth a few hours earlier os have anything set up beforehand.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the need to have plan you shot, even if it’s only a few minuted ahead of time. Lola was keen to get a shot of her holding her new baby. But she only had enough energy to stand for a few minutes at the most as she had just given birth a few hours earlier os have anything set up beforehand.

Of course the main concern is for the health of the baby and the mother so in less than ten minutes it was all wrapped, the shoot that is not the baby. The baby was back in her hospital gown and in the crib and the mother was back in her bed and my camera was... Where was my camera? Oh there it is, in my wife’s hands already having its contents reviewed and rated.

You really don’t need to prepare that much to get that first shot, certainly not compared to everything else you have to get ready for the birth. But it does take a lot to pull yourself together in the moment, to step outside the anxiety and shoot a mini session right there in the hospital. But it only take a moment and it’s worth having those photos from the first hours for the rest of your lives.

I don’t have very big hands but her’s will never be smaller so this is the right time for that daddy/daughter hand in hand shot.

I don’t have very big hands but her’s will never be smaller so this is the right time for that daddy/daughter hand in hand shot.