Lighting for Newborn Photography | Transcription
Since we are starting out our first scene, let’s just spend a moment to discuss some general lighting tips on newborn lighting.
In newborn and general portrait photography, window light is going to be some of the softest and most flattering light available. It’s also easy to use and it’s free, so awesome for that. Window light is a beautiful, soft light because windows are, again, a large light source in relation to our subject. The basic rule of lighting is again that the larger the light source in relation to your subject, the softer the light will be. The smaller the light source in relation to our subject, the harder – or the harsher – the light will be.
The window will be our main light in all of our shots. In addition, we’re going to use the silver side of the reflector most of the time, to fill in the shadows any time our camera angles are not directly in line with the directional light. With portraiture, shadows are used to create a dramatic and edgy look. But with newborn photography, we want to keep everything very soft, subtle and flattering and this means that we want to make sure that the shadows aren’t too dark. For shooting with the infant where basically we’re showing the shadow side of his or her face or body, we want to be sure to use the silver side of the reflector to fill and brighten those shadows a bit.
Not it’s important to note that not all window light is going to be the same. If the sunlight is streaming directly into the window as it would say on a morning on a clear day through a window facing East or late in the afternoon through a window facing West, the direct sunlight is going to be too bright and harsh. If that light is hitting the posing area, we need to unzip the reflector, pull out the white, semi-transparent diffuser, and we call this diffuser basically a scrim. You can also call it a diffusion panel, whatever you like. But the scrim is that internal component of most $40 5-in-1 reflectors, and the one I’m using is just the Westcott Photo Basics Reflector that we previously mentioned.
Holding or placing this between the path of light and your subject is going to dim and diffuse that light, creating a much softer, more beautiful light that’s perfect for newborn portraiture.
Be sure to never use the silver side of the reflector to reflect harsh direct sunlight onto your newborn. Bright lights not only cause the newborn discomfort, they can also be unsafe and it’s going to create harsh shadows and unflattering light on your newborn subject anyway, so it’s not something that you ever want to really do.