Newborn Photography Lighting Techniques


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Newborn Photography Lighting Techniques

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Newborn Photography Lighting Techniques.


I hope that some (or all!) of these tips will help you toward your goal of successful newborn sessions, as much as they’ve helped me!

I can’t emphasis enough how important this is, even though it seems so obvious. Your goal for the session is the same as theirs, but they don’t often know what it takes to accomplish that goal. Right from the point of their first inquiry, inform them of your approach to your sessions. Likely, this information is readily available on your website or blog.

Having been a Newborn Photographer for 2.5 years now, I know that there is so much to know in order to have a successful session. And I should mention; a successful session, to me, isn’t just a beautiful gallery. It is a session in which the baby sleeps well, the parents are relaxed, and we all leave the session feeling excited about the entire process.

Also, explain why you suggest these things … why is a pacifier helpful at the session? Why should the baby be given a very full feeding right before, kept awake for a bit prior, and then photographed in an 85 degree room? A well informed client is a trusting, relaxed client and that goes a long way toward a successful session.

And then again a day or so before the session, send reminders for what the parents can do to prepare for their experience and what they can to to ensure it is the best experience possible.

3. Create visual layers in your image by deciding which elements are most important.

4. Be mindful of light and shadow. They make or break an image!

But I’ve also found that warming the spot on the beanbag where they will be posed is incredibly helpful too, particularly on the first blanket I’m working with. A heating pad works great for this!

In this image, the light is coming from the left side. When you see shadows under the chin and the nose, those shadows are a good indication that the light is placed correctly.

I’m going to show you a few simple posing and lighting tricks to create the look you want in every newborn photo.

I accomplished the C curve by making sure the baby’s head was tilted and her body was curved to the side. It’s easy to curl a newborn like this by placing baby’s elbow under her knee on the inner side. The baby’s face will clearly be seen and will not be obscured by her body.

I started out working with a teardrop shaped beanbag that I cinched on the bottom with a rubber band to make it more full and solid feeling. But ever since I purchased a puck-style beanbag and filled it with a couple extra bags of bean my posing has become so much easier. The wide, flat work area lends itself perfectly to posing in order to see the baby well and working more easily with their legs, arms and face, rather than battling with them sinking into a too-soft, too-small, beanbag.

I remember when I first began photographing newborns one of the very first errors I made was how I used my light. I was prepped with the blankets and heat and lessons on posing, but … I faced the beanbag and baby right at the window! What resulted were flat-light, very one-dimensional looking images.

Broad lighting is when the majority of the subject is illuminated by the light source. Short lighting is when most of the subject is in the shadows. When focusing on a subject’s face, if the face is turned toward the light, most of the face will be lit, and that is broad lighting. When most of the face is turned away from the light, and is in the shadow, that is called short lighting.

More little details that make a huge differences in my sessions! We all know that heating the space you’re working in is crucial … I have my space heater going the whole time and if I’m not sweating, I know the baby isn’t warm enough.

In nature the sun illuminates us from above, creating shadows under our nose, cheekbones and chin. Lighting from below (upwards) creates unflattering shadows on the face.

During this time I may be shushing into their ear, while still adjusting the pose slightly or smoothing a blanket with a free hand. But whether it is a finger that keeps wanting to curl under or a foot that wants to pop out, holding the newborn in place will comfort them a great deal and bring the pose into perfection.

I not only want this for each and every one of my own clients, but for every Newborn Photographers’. I’ve studied, practiced and learned a lot in the past several years and am excited to pass on to all of you, five tips that positively changed my newborn photography experience.

In regards to blankets, I have learned how much I benefit from layering many blankets on my beanbag, in the order I want to use them and clasping the entire stack to the backdrop stand. I benefit during the session from doing this because it makes the transition from one blanket to the next extremely quick and fluid, and during post-processing because the layering helps make the blankets a lot smoother.

Just seeing how she handled the baby opened my eyes to what was possible with posing a sound asleep newborn. I also observed a number of soothing techniques that have proved to be so helpful … so much so that I wish I knew of them with my own babies! True, there is nothing like true, hands on experience, but studying and watching other experienced photographers work can prove invaluable.

Learn the EXACT techniques that I use everyday to photograph my kids. Stop feeling frustrated with your DSLR. Let me help you with this FREE webclass.

If you have a baby who won’t stay in the pose you want, as in this example, turn your light so it shines at a 90-degree angle on the side of the baby’s face. That way you’ll create a well lit image — unlike this one.

It’s not easy to remember all the ins and outs of posing newborns in studio lighting when you’re working with unpredictable little people that need lots of breaks and might pee on you at any moment. If you’re just beginning your journey into posed newborn photography, it can all feel very overwhelming. Luckily, it gets easier!

When using studio lighting with newborns, the light source should come from the direction that the baby’s head is laying. The light should illuminate the baby’s face downward, from the top of the head to the chin. Lighting from the chin upwards would cause spooky up-lighting and “monster” shadows, which we want to avoid. When posing a newborn on a beanbag, always turn the baby’s head to the side the light is on.

Look at the image below. Do you see the gorgeous highlight on baby’s lips and the cute details of little toes in the distance?

To sooth the baby while posing, I have found that a very loud ‘SHHHHHH’ goes a long way! I hold my warm hands firmly on their body, often one on their head and the other on their tush, and say ‘SHHHHH’ in their ear. Sometimes I have to raise my ‘SHHHH’ to an awkwardly loud volume, but it helps greatly in calming when they start to stir. And speaking of ‘holding’ … when I mold the baby into a pose I don’t just get them there and then snap the shot. I will keep my hands on them as I feel them relax into the position.

When you pose the newborn correctly, it’s easier to light the baby perfectly. Posing correctly means creating a curve in the image, or a C shape. Our brains love to see curves. Our eyes follow the curves in an image and we see the whole photo with all the details in harmony.

I am so thankful to Courtney for letting me write for her on this fabulous site! Especially because she said I can write about newborn photography! This is certainly a passion of mine, and I love to chat about this genre of photography any chance I can get. Mostly because with each conversation, new tips and bits of knowledge can be gained … for the photographer just starting in this specialization to the seasoned professional.

In addition, when stuffing rolled up cloth diapers under the blanket to properly pose the baby, it really helps to stuff them all the way under the bottom blanket for a very smooth, not lumpy, look. In between those blankets? Lay down a potty pad! And lastly regarding blankets … thick, textured blankets are just so much easier to work with in post-processing because they are not as prone to wrinkles.

But personally sending them details about the age range you prefer for the newborn, where the session will take place, the length of the session, environment temperature, and your hope for the parents during the session, starts your trek toward accomplishing the shared goal on the right foot.

2. Consider the type of lighting that best suits your vision for each photo.

1. Consider the pose when you are using studio lighting for newborns.

Look at Rembrandt’s famous paintings for examples of this classic lighting technique. We can often draw photography inspiration from art.

When photographing newborns from above, I light the baby’s face at a 90-degree angle. This way, one side is completely lit and the other side is partially lit. This creates a nice triangle of light on the cheek that is in the shadows. This is known as Rembrandt lighting.

Light and shadow build interest in our images. In this sense, shadows are just as important as light. Shadows create depth and dimension, and they direct the eye to the main part of the photo. Our eyes are automatically attracted to the lighter parts of the image, so we need to be certain that light hits the most important elements. Here are two easy rules to remember:

In the photo below on the left, since the baby’s face is tilted a bit to the left and the light source is on the left side of the image, most of the face is lit. Therefore, the baby is broad lit. The shadows are simply giving nice definition to the right side of the face. When the light source moves to the right side (in the right image), her face is mostly in the shadows and she is short lit. Both of these images are posed and lit correctly. Which image do you like the best? That’s how you should light this pose!

I hadn’t yet grasped that the direction of the light, when hitting the subject is very important! Angling thing beanbag set-up and positioning the baby at an angle to the light source creates soft shadows which add critical depth to an attractive portrait. Also, I most often keep the baby’s head toward the light, to achieve shadowing I prefer.

Backlighting happens when you and your camera are directly opposite from your light source and you’re shooting from the shadows toward the light. This technique yields perfectly creamy lighting, which I really love!

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I know you’re thinking “but doesn’t that only come with experience??” To a point, yes … but so much can also be achieved through watching videos, studying poses, taking classes or mentorships, and asking tons of questions on your favorite photography forum. I gained so much confidence before my very first session by watching a video of a well-known photographer working with a newborn.

When photographing newborns using studio lighting, it’s useful to know the different types of lighting situations so that you can manipulate the light to get the look you want.

Look at the two images below. Can you see how our eyes love the C shape more than the simple straight line?

Don’t be afraid of including lots of shadows. Position your shadows correctly.

Let’s take a look at the image below, where baby was not placed correctly in relation to the light source. Since I have not moved my studio lighting, the light is still coming at a 90-degree angle from the left. This setup is lighting the newborn’s face in an upward direction, creating the wrong kind of shadows on her face.

Depending on the size of the window, intensity of light and distance of the window to floor, I generally keep my beanbag around 3 feet from the window and my set-up at about a 60 degree angle to the window.

Imagine separating a two-dimensional image into layers. The features closest to the camera are the first layer and the most important part of the image. The next layer includes the features that are farther from the camera. The details on this second layer are less important, but they serve to create a dynamic and interesting image. Think of the added texture of fabric or a wood floor as part of this second layer of interest.



New child photography may be exceptionally challenging , not only as a result of the models can are usually a bit uncooperative, but in addition as a result of truth they spend a lot of time sleeping and little or no time smiling. This article has a couple of hints and ideas that should hopefully show you tips on how to photograph newborn babies and make sure that you end up with a shot that the household will want to treasure forever.

The lighting of your shot can be particularly important. You do not need to go exposing newborn eyes to vivid flash bulbs, so attempt to take pictures in conditions that are naturally vivid when photographing newborns. Improve the ISO and publicity compensation on your digital camera in low gentle levels , but test to ensure that the picture does not become too grainy as a result.

Make sure to contemplate the angles at which you`re taking your shots. It may be very simple to fall into the habit of always capturing from above, so earlier than lengthy you will have an album stuffed with shots wanting down on the child. Attempt getting down on the identical degree as the newborn, and allow them to fill the complete frame of your photo.

Give attention to a number of the smaller aspects of their face, or on a single hand or foot to get some really attention-grabbing macro shots. It is often an thought to maintain your digicam on a continuous shooting mode, as a child `s expression can change extremely quickly. Take quite a few pictures for every setup, and hopefully you may be left with one perfect one. Digital photography allows you delete any undesirable shots.

Keep in mind that these photographs are being taken to seize the second and to look back on in years to come. Think of what photos and memories you are looking to preserve. If there`s any merchandise or toy that performs an important half in their early days, seize it. The family shot is always a favorite ; so ensure you get considered one of each mum and pa with the baby. Some other traditional pictures to think about are ones with the child `s hand or foot in its mom `s hand to emphasize the difference in dimension , or pictures of the mother nursing seize the intimacy of the relationship.

By following these newborn photography suggestions you will be able to improve your photography abilities and find yourself with pictures value trying back on a few years from now.

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