Lighting for Newborn Photography: Striking the Balance between Artificial and Natural Light
As photographers, we are constantly seeking the best lighting setup to enhance those precious moments. The debate between using artificial lighting equipment and relying on the beauty of natural light has long been a topic of interest in the newborn photography community. Let’s explore the benefits and downsides of each approach to help you find the perfect balance for your own newborn photography sessions.
In the above image: You’ll see the light is beautifully diffused with sheer curtains in our studio. The window is also south-facing – which means it never receives direct sunlight. If your window receives direct sunlight, you’ll need to diffuse the light more heavily, e.g. by hanging a white sheet for example as the light is brighter and harsher.
Embracing the Beauty of Natural Light:
- Free and Readily Available: One of the most significant advantages of natural light is that it is free and abundantly available, provided you have access to windows or other sources of natural illumination.
- Warm and Inviting: Natural light casts a gentle, flattering glow that creates a serene and inviting environment for newborns and their families. It complements their natural beauty and helps establish an emotional connection in the photographs.
- Minimal Equipment: Shooting with natural light means fewer bulky items cluttering your studio. This open space allows for more creative freedom and a relaxed atmosphere.
Challenges of Natural Light:
- Weather Dependency: Natural light is highly dependent on the weather and time of day. Overcast days may lack the softness and warmth required for newborn photography, while shooting during harsh sunlight can lead to unflattering shadows.
- Limited Shooting Time: As the sun moves throughout the day, the quality and direction of light change. Photographers must plan their sessions carefully to make the most of the optimal lighting conditions.
The Allure of Artificial Lighting:
- Consistency and Control: One of the primary benefits of using artificial lighting, especially softbox lighting, is the level of control it provides. Softboxes offer soft, diffused light that is gentle on the newborn’s delicate features. Moreover, you can manipulate the intensity, direction, and color temperature of the light to achieve consistent results.
- Suitable for Any Time of Day: Unlike natural light, artificial lighting allows you to shoot at any time of day without worrying about the changing position of the sun. This flexibility is particularly useful when accommodating clients’ schedules and unpredictable newborn sleep patterns.
- Ideal for Indoor Studios: If you have a dedicated indoor studio, artificial lighting ensures that you’re not dependent on external factors like weather conditions, time of day, or window placement.
The Drawbacks of Artificial Lighting:
- Space and Cost: A major downside to using artificial lighting is that it can take up a significant amount of space in your studio. Softboxes, light stands, and other equipment can crowd the area and restrict your shooting options.
- Less Inviting Atmosphere: Artificial light, despite its versatility, can sometimes create a less warm and inviting atmosphere compared to the soft glow of natural light. Newborns and their parents may feel more comfortable and relaxed in a space flooded with natural sunlight.
- Steep Learning Curve: Mastering artificial lighting techniques requires time and effort. Understanding the technical aspects of lighting setups, like positioning, power, and modifiers, may pose a learning curve for beginners.
Here are three softbox lighting options that come highly recommended:
- Profoto D2 with Softbox: Profoto is a well-respected brand known for producing high-quality lighting equipment. The Profoto D2 is a powerful and reliable monolight that provides consistent output, fast recycle times, and precise color temperature control. Paired with a softbox, it can produce soft and flattering light for newborn subjects.
- Broncolor Siros with Softbox: Broncolor is another reputable brand in the photography industry, and their Siros series offers excellent lighting options for various genres, including newborn photography. The Siros monolights are known for their color accuracy, fast flash duration, and consistent performance, making them ideal for capturing the delicate details of newborns.
- Godox AD600 Pro with Softbox: Godox has gained popularity in recent years for offering high-quality lighting equipment at more affordable price points. The Godox AD600 Pro is a portable and powerful battery-powered strobe that’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor newborn photography sessions. When paired with a softbox, it can produce soft and flattering light for beautiful newborn portraits.
Essentials tips for working with newborns
Starting a career in newborn photography requires specific equipment and knowledge to ensure a safe and successful photoshoot. Here are some must-have basics and provide helpful tips to begin your journey into newborn photography. Learning safe newborn handling is crucial for newborn photographers and being able to easily settle a newborn is often overlooked.
In conclusion, the choice between artificial and natural light for newborn photography depends on your preferences, budget, and shooting environment. While artificial lighting offers control and consistency, it comes with the expense of equipment, a learning curve, and potentially a less inviting atmosphere. On the other hand, natural light, being free and warm, creates a welcoming ambiance, but it requires careful planning around the weather and time of day. If you find that you have insufficient light or prefer not to deal with the changeability, you will need to consider investing in lighting equipment.
Meet Jess, a passionate photographer specializing in newborn photography based in country Victoria Australia. With a personal journey starting as a new mum struggling to learn photography while caring for a newborn, Jess understands the challenges and overwhelming experience many parents face.
Driven by a desire to help others, Jess now offers online training programs designed to empower both parents and photographers to capture beautiful moments of settled and sleepy newborns. Providing quick and easy techniques to ensure stunning newborn photographs with ease.
Whether you’re a parent wanting to capture precious moments of your newborn or a photographer looking to enhance your skills in newborn photography, Jess is here to guide you on this beautiful journey.
Join their online training programs and discover the joy of capturing those precious moments that will be cherished for a lifetime.