I recently shot a magazine spread promoting a birthing center for a local hospital featuring families that had a great experience with their deliveries. The assignment required me to first shoot in the actual birthing area in the hospital then drive across town to photograph a family with their 8 month old baby girl who was also delivered there. Anyone who has attempted trying to get a great shot of a kid, let alone a baby, knows that to get that shot you have to be patient, quick, as well as catch a little bit of luck. In this particular case I'd like to think that my experience and preparation aided my chance at getting lucky.
Even though the hospital PR team had prearranged my visit to the birthing area, I know from experience that any assignment inside a hospital can be a fluid one. Nurses and doctors have more important things on their mind that setting up a 'perfect shot' for a visiting photographer.
Upon arrival my eyes began darting around for possible spots to get a quick snap of the Obstetrician I was scheduled to photograph. My next objective was to 'chat up' the nurses on duty. I'm no longer intimidated by the initial look on the head nurse's face when I tell her that I'm there to take photos of the doctor and possibly a mom and her newborn. "You want to what? Now?"
Fortunately I had photographed the doctor before so she cleared the path for me to not only shoot in one of the available birthing rooms but also gained permission from one of her patients to be photographed along with her 1 day old baby. The main thing at that point was to not to waste time. I made the decision to not set-up my lights but shoot with available light along with the flash on my camera. I was able to get all three shots within fifteen minutes!
Next stop, the family across town with the eight month old baby.
When I arrived I found a lovely, but very tired, young mom who told me about staying up all night with her baby who wouldn't fall asleep. I promised her that I'd get my shots finished as quickly as possible and was then led by her two older children to the backyard that featured a large plastic playhouse. Bingo, I had a focal point to work with! Unfortunately the dad was stuck in traffic on his way home so I decided to begin without him. I pulled the playhouse across the backyard into position and plopped the baby right in front of my camera. The baby was in a good mood so I directed the older kids to scream and be happy and started to snap away. Believe it or not, the baby struck that poise you see in the top photo completely on her own! I knew I had 'The Shot'! When the dad did arrived home about twenty minutes later I had him stand in the spot behind where his wife had been sitting. A little post-production work completed the image.
A couple of quick family snaps later my shooting assignment was complete. Start to finish, two and a half fast paced hours!