As a baby photographer, there are lots of options when it comes to lighting. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of getting beautiful photos. As you’ll soon see, there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing the type of lighting. Over the last 7 years as a baby photographer, I’ve tried all 3 of the main types. Here is an introduction to them as well as the pros and cons of all of them.
Natural Light for Baby Photography
Natural light is the light that most photographers use. Indoor, outdoor, in-studio, wedding, at the park – you name it. Natural light is used in every type of photography.
Pros: It’s free! It’s everywhere.
Cons: You can’t control it. You’re at the mercy of mother nature (rain, dark overcast days). The colour temperature changes throughout the day which will alter your white balance. The direction of the light changes and can be obstructed by buildings/trees etc.
Strobe Light for Baby Photography
Moving into artificial light – strobes have become more popular in the last few years. I first moved into strobe lighting about 4 years ago after I got frustrated with just how inconsistent natural light can be. (For more about my journey into studio lighting you might find this blog post interesting). Basically, strobes are a light unit which are triggered by a wireless transmitter & receiver which cause a light to flash. For nice soft light (a definite must for baby photography), you would typically use a light modifier such as a softbox or an umbrella.
Pros: It’s consistent. You can move the light instead of moving the baby. The light colour temperature (and therefore your white balance) stays the same. You never have to worry about the weather.
Cons: Extra equipment which can be bulky and annoying to move. Leads etc. which pose an extra safety hazard in your studio. The light itself get incredibly hot and can pose a safety risk. If your equipment fails or there is a power outage, you have no light. Specifically for strobes – the flash (although minor) can startle newborns a little and disturb their sleep. Parents can also be nervous about the flash hurting their baby’s eyes (there is absolutely no evidence that this is true – you might like to read this blog article I wrote several years ago about the safety of flash for babies).
Continuous Light for Baby Photography
After trying both natural light and strobe light photography throughout my baby photography career, this is the type of lighting that I’m currently using and will likely stick with forever. Continuous lighting is virtually identical to strobe lighting. When I moved from strobe to continuous lighting, the only thing that I changed was the light head itself. I’m now using the Godox SL-200. It is fan-cooled with a constant white balance.
Pros: All of the benefits of strobe light…. PLUS: Constant light – no startling babies! Fan cooled and less of a hazard in the studio.
Cons: Like strobes, you still have a rather bulky light to move around in the studio.
I hope this has been helpful if you’re a baby photographer and are considering what type of light to use!