Is Studio or Natural Light Best for Newborn Photos | Arcadian Photography

Is Studio Light or Natural Light Best for Newborn Photography?

June 24, 2019

is studio or natural light best for photographing newborns
Katie of Arcadian Photography at her studio in Salem, OR

Do you think its best to photograph with studio or natural light for newborn photography?

In my humble opinion?

Both! Both of them are super useful skills to have. I think, if you can, it’s great to become familiar with photographing a newborn in natural light and in studio light.

The trick?

The trick is getting studio light to look like natural light. The setup I have does a pretty fantastic job of replicating natural light. More on my setup further down the post.

newborn photograph
is studio or natural light best for photographing newborns

What about the photos in this post?

For this session here, did I use studio light or natural light?

Both! Of course.

The photos in this blog post are from a recent newborn mini session I did at my studio in Salem, Oregon.

All of the images photographed on the white drop are natural light and the images on the gray drop are studio light.

Could you tell the difference? Hopefully not, or at least…hopefully not by much!

is studio or natural light best for photographing newborns
is studio or natural light best for photographing newborns

Why do you need both?

I love natural light. I think I will always find it a bit superior to studio light. It is soft and beautiful, but sometimes it can be frustratingly inconsistent.

Gray overcast days in the winter are my favorite days to photograph with natual light. Bright blue hot mornings in the summer are my least favorite. Time to pull out the studio light!

What about those days in the winter when it’s SO dark and stormy outside there isn’t enough natural light to work with? Time to pull out the studio light.

Need to move the session through super fast? Have a set up ready to go at the studio light, and one ready to go at the window.

You need both so you can be agile and versatile, adapting to any lighting situation you might be faced with. You need both so you can deliver a newborn session to your client filled with softly and beautifully lit newborn portraits no matter what the natural light is doing that day. You should aim to move smoothly between the two.

I certainly have a preference to photograph with natural light but I’m so thankful I know how to move over to the studio light if I feel like it will result in a better image than the current natural light situation.

is studio or natural light best for photographing newborns
Portland newborn photographer

My lighting setup

For studio lighting, I have an Einstein 640 light mounted onto a column stand with a black cover 84″ PLM and a white diffusion cover. I’ve linked to the products here to get my exact setup:

Einstein E640 Flash Unit

Westcott 84″ White with Black Cover Parabolic Umbrella

Westcott Front Diffusion Cover in White

Manfrotto Column Stand with Sliding Arm

In the main room that I photograph in, I have both a west facing and a south-facing window. I typically use my large west facing window when I’m using natural light. Sometimes I use the south facing.

Salem oregon newborn photographer
is studio or natural light best for photographing newborns

So let’s hear it in the comments section…would you have known this session was photographed with both studio and natural light if I hadn’t told you? If yes, what tipped you off? Talk to you soon!

Katie

  1. Ariel

    June 24th, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I love natural light, but you’re right… there are definitely some days when a studio light is best. I see you use a strobe, rather than constant light. Do you find that the flash disrupts the baby at all? Love your work!

  2. Katie Howard

    June 25th, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Hi Ariel! Not at all! The flash is noticeable, but thankfully it doesn’t disturb the baby.

2 Comments on Is Studio Light or Natural Light Best for Newborn Photography?

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