Contact the family within 48 hours of receiving the form information. Babies grow quickly or circumstances change, and the sooner you can get the photo session set up, the better.
Make sure to set up a time with the family that does not conflict with the nurses shift change time. This makes things inconvenient for the nursing staff and can irritate them.
Once you have a date set up, tell the parent to make sure the nurse for that day knows you are coming. You will go in as a visitor of the family, but giving the nurse a heads up always helps.
The Hospital Session
IMPORTANT: Within 48 hours of photographing the baby, send our sneak peek information form to the family so we can get information from them before posting them on social media. The completed form automatically goes to our marketing team. When we receive their completed form, we will let you know and have you send 2-3 sneaks from their photo session to us. FORM: https://www.capturinghopesphoto.org/form/sneak-peek *This does not apply for official holiday event photo sessions in participating hospitals.
You should be listed as a visitor of the family and the parent should meet you in the waiting room and take you back to the baby's incubator/bed. Text them when you arrive so they can meet you.
Documentary style photography is what we provide. Mom looking at baby, dad holding baby’s hand, skin to skin with mom, a kiss on the head, etc. We do not do newborn posing at all. Asking the family to look at the camera for some shots is absolutely encouraged, but please keep things very simple. Capture the baby’s journey and story in that moment. If you need ideas about what types of photos we provide, please check out our Facebook fan page.
Low aperture photography is what we specialize in at Capturing Hopes. An aperture of 2.8 or wider (2.0, 1.8, 1.4, etc) is required in the NICU. Focus in on the beauty of the baby and blur out the cords, monitors, walls, background clutter, and everything else in the NICU.
Try to keep the session as short as possible, while at the same time accommodating any needs the baby has like feeding, diaper change, etc. It should take no longer than 10-15 minutes, but it depends on circumstances, as every situation is different. Be patient with the baby and family.
Never pick up or hold the baby. Let the parent or the nurse move the baby if needed. If you need to move a hand or anything else, make sure you ask first and ALWAYS hand sanitize right before you touch.
When the session ends, inform the family of the process following the session. If you will post a sneak, let them know. Tell them what date to expect their photo gallery by, which is usually within 10 days. Be upfront with them and communicate well.
Never take money or a tip from the family, this conflicts with the Capturing Hopes model of nonprofit work. The family should not pay anything for the session or the digital downloads that are sent to them in a high resolution format. If they choose to order prints from you, that is permitted, as long as they are not pressured or required to do so.
Do not use props or extra lighting. This is not something the hospital will allow. The props you bring will not be sanitized to the hospital standard and extra lighting will over stimulate the baby. You can use am external flash on your camera if the nurse okays it, but no other external lighting is allowed, and absolutely no use of a pop up flash is permitted. If the family has props for their baby, that is allowed by the hospital and can be used.
Do not photograph the staff of the hospital unless they give you direct permission. We like to get some staff photos, but only with their permission. They are the real superheroes in the NICU. NEVER photograph other families or babies in the background for HIPAA reasons.
When sending sneaks, include the name of the family/baby, the hospital, city/state of hospital, and your Facebook business page link.
Feel free to also post sneaks on your own page, or share directly from the Capturing Hopes page to your own. Either way, please make sure to tag Capturing Hopes in the post, this is a requirement for all sessions provided through Capturing Hopes.
Once the gallery is completed, send it to family along with the link to sign up for another session. You can find that HERE.
Do not send more than 10 images per session. We try to provide only 3-5 per session. More than 10 can get overwhelming for the parents. The only exception to this is if there are extended family members there and you get more photos than the average 5-10 minute session.
IMPORTANT STEP: Fill out the "completed session" form HERE. We will download the photos to keep archived for families and also use photos for marketing. *Please keep galleries open for at least 30 days.
If the family would like to set up another session, please have them do it through Capturing Hopes. We will forward you their info when they submit another request. If for some reason they book through you instead of Capturing Hopes, please follow the CHP protocol and do not charge the family for a NICU session. Also, keep us in the loop and send us sneaks and the gallery every time so we use those photos to encourage other families in the area to support Capturing Hopes and also parents of preemies to book a session.
If the family hires you following their stay in the NICU, they become your client and you are free to charge them your regular pricing. Their relationship with CHP ends once they are discharged from the NICU. Side note on this: If you provide a newborn session or family session after their release, feel free to let us know and we can share it from your page to ours to celebrate their graduation. Updates like that are always encouraging for other NICU families who are still in the hospital with their baby. It gives them hope.
Other things to remember:
Photos from your NICU sessions cannot be sold to companies or organizations for use. If a company/organization contacts you, please give them our contact information.
If you are contacted by the media concerning your photo session in the NICU, please let us know prior to allowing use of any photos.
Email Deneen at email@example.com if you have any questions!