Newborn photography is a genre of photography that captures the innocence and early stages of a child’s life.
It is a difficult form of photography as it requires specific skills and techniques to produce stunning images that families will be able to keep as a memento of a child’s first months in our world.
One of the most important aspects of newborn photography is lighting. The correct lighting can make the difference between a great photo, and a mediocre one. So how exactly does lighting work for newborn photography?
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the importance of lighting and how you can use it to achieve the perfect balance for your newborn photo shoots.
Why Does Lighting Matter?
Lighting is one of the most important parts of photography, as it plays a vital role in determining the overall quality of your images.
When it comes to newborn photography, lighting is especially important because newborns are sensitive to their environment, and the comfort of the newborn you are photographing should be of utmost importance.
Many photographers will opt for soft and gentle lighting, in order to create a calm and comfortable atmosphere which can help to soothe the baby and make them relaxed enough to take some great photos.
The right lighting is also important from an artistic standpoint. Finding the right lighting can allow you to properly capture the beauty and importance of this stage of the human journey.
More than this, good lighting can help to bring out the colors and details of the baby, resulting in a more accurate to-life image.
Common Lighting Styles
There are many lighting techniques that people use to create specific styles within photography. Backlighting, for example, is the method of positioning a subject with the light source behind them to create a dramatic effect.
Backlighting is also often used to create an outline of light around the subject, creating an ethereal effect that many people find effective in newborn photography.
Another example of lighting style is Soft Lighting. Soft lighting is usually created by using a diffused light source. What this does is create a warm and gentle atmosphere for you to take photos in, with gentle shadows and more defined highlights.
We want to highlight that soft lighting is one of the most popular stylistic techniques to use in newborn photography. This is because the gentle atmosphere helps to convey the beauty and innocence of the newborn in question.
Many of the techniques we’re about to discuss will be used to create soft lighting and highlight the best features of the newborn you are photographing.
A Note On Diffused Lighting
Diffused lighting in photography is a type of light that has been softened, or dispersed. When light passes through a diffuser (a material that scatters light), you will have more gentle light that reduces any potentially harsh shadows or lights in your images.
It’s important to learn how to create diffused light through either natural or artificial techniques, and once you learn how to do this you will find that your newborn photos will look much gentler and help to highlight the most important features of the newborn subject.
Natural Lighting Techniques
So now let’s move on to how you can use lighting to bring the best out of your subject. The first one is to make use of natural lighting.
Natural light is an excellent choice for newborn photography because it will give your images a soft, gentle, and realistic look. Below is a list of tips that can help you harness natural light to create impressive images.
1. Choose The Right Time Of Day
As a working photographer, you might not have the luxury of picking the time of day your shoot will occur. This is because sometimes you’ll have to fit your shoot around a client’s schedule.
However, if you can choose the time of day then you should consider shooting in the day when there is likely to be plenty of natural night.
Early mornings and late afternoons are going to be the best choice because the sun will be lower in the sky, and the light will be softer and more flattering.
Avoid midday when the sun is high, as this can create defined shadows or overly bright highlights which can spoil your photo.
2. Window Light
Window light is a great choice of natural light for newborn photography. Light that has passed through windows is soft, and diffused, and will create an overall pleasing style for your photography.
If you have a window in your studio then this can be a great chance to make use of it. If you’re not shooting in a closed studio, then make sure to find a place where you can take advantage of this light.
Many photographers choose to use reflectors, as they can be used to bounce light back onto the newborn and create a more even sense of light.
A good way to do this is to place a white or silver reflector opposite your light source – namely window light – which will bounce light back onto the newborn and reduce any harsh shadows.
Be careful not to use a reflector that is too large or distracting, as this can create a harsh glare that might cause the baby discomfort.
Artificial Lighting Techniques
Another good choice for newborn photo shoots is to make use of artificial lighting. This is a common choice when natural light is not available, or if you want a more controlled environment to create a specific mood or look.
Here are some tips and techniques that you can use to make the most of artificial lighting in your shoots.
One of the most commonly used lighting accessories for indoor photography is an umbrella. These are a favorite of many photographers because of their ability to create soft and diffused light.
They’re easy to set up and adjust, making them a good choice for newborn photography. You may have to experiment a little with an umbrella and adjust the angle to create your desired lighting effect.
Softboxes are a popular piece of lighting equipment that you can use to create gentle light. They should be placed close to the newborn in question to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Make sure to use a softbox that is the correct size for the newborn and the space you are working with.
3. Light Stands
Light stands allow you to position the source of light relative to the newborn you’re photographing. They can be used with softboxes, umbrellas, or any other kind of lighting equipment to create a desired lighting effect.
You’re going to need to make sure that you have properly fastened the light stand, especially if it is placed above the baby, to ensure that the baby is safe throughout the shoot.
4. Continuous Lighting
Continuous Lighting is a classic choice for many photographers who want to use artificial light in order to create a warm atmosphere. Continuous lights are weaker than strobe lights, and they will emit a constant, gentle light.
We’d recommend that you use the lowest setting that you can get away with, as this will help you to create a nice environment for the newborn, while still providing you with the correct level of light to get the photos you want.
To conclude, lighting is a critical part of any photography, but it can be considered especially important in newborn photography. Creating the right kind of soft lighting can take careful planning and consideration to achieve.
You can use either natural or artificial lighting in your work, but the most important thing is to make use of diffused light in order to create a warm and gentle environment.
By following the tips we discussed above, you’ll be able to create a series of heartwarming images that will capture the earliest moments of a person’s life.
We hope that this article has helped you to understand everything you wanted to know about this topic and that you’re now more confident! Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
Although special pieces of equipment like softboxes and umbrellas can be used to create diffused lighting, you can also achieve these same effects with natural light. This can take some practice and experimentation to get right, however.
Some of the most common mistakes people make when photographing newborns is using harsh or uneven lighting, or using flash.
Flash is one of the worst choices to photograph newborns as it can be unsettling or upsetting for newborns. More than this, it is unlikely to achieve the soft highlights you’ll want for beautiful photos.