I get a lot of messages from new photographers asking me about what camera settings I use in my sessions. To save time answering people individually, I thought the best thing to do would be to do a blog post! 🙂
I always shoot in manual mode. I’m a bit of a control freak (haha!) and prefer to tell my camera what to do rather than have it think for itself. Here is a run down on the different settings I use in most of my photography sessions:
Aperture / f-stop
When I choose my camera settings, I typically think in apertures. Depth of field is the main thing that I’m thinking about – and the most important thing that I’m needing to modify for my sessions. Because my sessions take place in a studio with a continuous light, and my subjects aren’t running around etc, for me depth of field is the most important thing.
Baby on their own
When I’m photographing baby on their own I like to shoot quite wide open to make the focus all about the baby and blurring the background (aka shallow depth of field). To achieve this look I select an aperture of around f/2 to f/2.5. Of course when you’re shooting with such a small area in focus you really need to be on your game with your focusing!
Baby with a sibling / Parent shots
When photographing a baby with a sibling or one other person on roughly the same plane of focus (e.g. both laying down on a rug) you should increase your depth of field slightly to ensure that both subjects are in focus. In these cases I change my aperture to about f/4.
- Family shots
For family shots (e.g. both parents, perhaps a sibling and baby) you will need to select a narrower aperture (higher f/stop number) to ensure that all the subjects are in focus. I typically shoot family images at about f/5.6 or sometimes up to f/8 depending on how many people are in the photo and whether they are on a similar plane of focus or not.
ISO, Shutter Speed & White Balance
The rest of my camera settings tend to stay consistent except where I adjust my aperture and need to adjust either my ISO or my shutter speed for a correct exposure. Usually I leave my shutter speed and adjust my ISO.
ISO – I use continuous lights and a PLM (parabolic light modifier) for my baby photos. I set my ISO at around 400 and adjust this where necessary to compensate for changes to my aperture.
Shutter Speed – I usually set and forget my shutter speed. I set it at around 250th/sec to make sure that I don’t get any motion blur.
White Balance – I set my own custom white balance from a grey card.
Of course these settings will change depending on your own studio and lighting environment as well as what it is you’re wanting to achieve in your photos.