Photographing the first days of newborn Finn

July 21, 2019

I couldn’t recall the last time I put much thought into photography. Months maybe.

Other than an hour of capturing maternity portraits of my wife on the Jersey Shore back in the Spring, I largely felt a diminished drive for photography. It’s not hard to see why.

This year has been one of profound new beginnings. Most importantly I’ve transitioned from a stay-at-home Dad/freelancer to starting not one but TWO new full-time jobs. I’ve gone from commuting from the kitchen to the home office to an hour-long drive to an office.

Photography took a back seat. That is, until the birth of our third son.

He arrived in mid-June, and I brought to the hospital the camera bag, mostly, I must confess, out of a sense of obligation. No thought did I put to how would capture those first days in the hospital, the way I wanted the images to look, the story I wanted them to tell.

Then, Finley Theodore Pidgeon arrived. And a photographer’s instinct took over.

During the years I trained and developed as a wedding photographer, my style organically followed a path toward a dramatic look — heavy contrast and an emphasis on shadow as much as light.

Instantly, as the nurses in the operating room began caring for our infant, and then later for days, in the natural light of our hospital room, I felt the impulses that used to guide me kick in. Find the directional light. Position yourself where it maximizes compelling details. Fear no shadow in the viewfinder.

During post-processing, which I did on my iPad and iPhone thanks to Adobe Lightroom’s mobile app, I again followed instinct as I edited in black-and-white.

The intent was to capture the drama of those first days, and in the shadows as much as light represent the emotions as we all met Finn, held him for the first time, heard his cries, soothed him, and welcomed him into the family.

Anybody can use a flash or wield a camera phone, but if you want to push your work, take the next step and start finding a style that belongs to you.

I know my style doesn’t please everyone. That’s not my goal.

My goal is to create compelling images, something that might stand out in your social media news feeds, an image or series of images that make you stop and look. After all, we take and share pictures for them to be viewed. And when you look, I want you to be interested, and I want your eyes to search for details in both light and shadow.

Here are the best samples of Finn’s first days.

Dave Pidgeon is a photographer, writer, and father of three boys from Lancaster, Pa. You can contact him at

More about Dave Pidgeon

Dave is the author of and lives in Lancaster, Pa., with his wife and their three sons.

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