The arrival of a newborn is a momentous occasion that deserves to be captured in photographs that reflect the beauty, innocence, and wonder of a new life. However, achieving perfect lighting for newborn photography can be a challenge. Natural light is often the best source of illumination to capture the delicate details of a newborn’s face and body, but it can also be unpredictable and harsh. In this article, we will provide you with five tips that will help you achieve beautifully lit natural light newborn photos. With these simple methods, you’ll be able to create stunning photos that capture the essence of your tiny subject. So, whether you are a professional photographer or a parent capturing your baby’s first moments, read on to learn how to photograph newborn sessions in natural light.
Choose the Right Time of Day
To ensure that you have the best lighting for newborn photography, you need to choose the right time of day. I prefer to shoot my newborn sessions in the mid-morning. During this time, the sun’s rays are softer and create a warm and soft glow that enhances the beauty of your subject. This is also the time of day when babies (and toddlers) tend to be happiest. You may even be able to push it until early afternoon. But by late afternoon, babies experience “witching hour” and most new parents are exhausted. I like to have my clients pay attention to which rooms get the best morning light in the days leading up to their sessions. Those are usually the rooms that I’ll be taking photos in.
Now that you know when to schedule your photoshoot, let’s move on to our next tip: using a white surface as a reflector. By using a white sheet, comforter, or rug as a reflector, you can bounce light onto your subject and create a soft and flattering glow. Keep reading to learn how to use this technique to create stunning newborn photos.
Use a White Surface as a Reflector
By using a white surface as a reflector, you can enhance the natural light and fill in any shadows on your subjects’ faces. Simply drape a white sheet over a piece of cardboard or foam board and hold it near your subject, angled towards the light source. The white fabric will bounce the light back onto your newborn, creating a soft and flattering glow. This technique is especially helpful on cloudy days when the light may be diffused and lacking in contrast. If you’re taking family photos, you can have everyone sit on a bed with a white comforter or stand on a white rug or blanket.
Now that you’ve got the hang of using a white surface as a reflector, let’s move on to our next tip: positioning your subject near a window. This technique will allow you to take advantage of natural light and create stunning photos without any artificial lighting.
Position Your Subject Near a Window
When positioning your newborn near a window, look for a window without direct sun coming through. These are ideal for diffused light. Place your baby on a soft blanket or cushion near the window, making sure there are no harsh shadows on his or her face. You can also experiment with different angles and times of day to determine the best natural light for your photos. In the photo above, the dad has two smaller windows behind him but I angled him toward a third window to help bring more light onto his face.
How to Soften Harsh Light
By positioning your subject near a window, you can create beautifully lit and natural-looking photos of your newborn without the need for artificial lighting. However, if there’s too much sunlight coming in from the window, you may want to find open shade to soften harsh light. I like to use the diffuser in this reflector kit to help soften direct light.
If there’s too much sunlight coming in from the window, you may want to move your subjects away from the window slightly to soften harsh light. You can place the baby on a soft blanket or cushion in this shaded area, making sure the light falls evenly on his or her face for a more appealing photo.
Once you’ve captured the newborn’s image in natural light, it’s time to edit your photos to enhance their beauty further.
Editing Your Photos to Enhance Natural Light
After taking your newborn photos using natural light, the next step is to edit them to enhance the beauty of the light. One of the basic editing techniques you can use is adjusting the exposure, also known as brightness in some editing apps. You can use exposure to tone down harsh light or brighten up dark areas in your image. This ensures that your baby’s skin tone looks natural and not overexposed or underexposed.
Another approach to editing newborn photos is adjusting the contrast. Contrast allows you to balance the highlights and shadows in your image. You want to have a good balance between these two elements to create a visually appealing photo. Adjusting contrast also helps to bring out other details in your image, such as texture and lines, giving your photo a nice pop!
You can also adjust the white balance in your photo to achieve a natural look. Without proper white balance, your photo can look too yellow or too blue. Adjusting white balance ensures that the colors are true to life and look natural.
Lastly, you can use cropping to enhance your newborn photos taken in natural light. Cropping can help you eliminate distracting elements in the background and can focus more on your baby. You can also use cropping to change your photo’s composition and make it more visually pleasing. When using this tool, be careful not to crop at any joints like the ankles, knees, hips, etc.
By using these editing techniques, you can enhance the natural light in your newborn photos even more. Remember not to overdo it as the goal is to keep the photos looking natural and true-to-life.
Lifestyle Flash Mini Course
Capturing the perfect lighting for newborn photography can feel daunting. With these five simple tips, you’ll be able to create stunning newborn sessions in natural light. Remember to experiment and have fun! Don’t be afraid to try new techniques to find what works best for you and your style of photography. And if you’re struggling with natural light, shooting on cloudy days, or in dark rooms, then don’t be ashamed of using a flash when you need to! I teach students a super simple way to use a speedlite flash in the Lifestyle Flash Mini Course. (Hint: a flash can still look like natural light when done right!) Check out my blog post all about it here! If you need the perfect flash gear to add to your camera bag, check out my favorites here.
Also, if you’re already a BHP Student in my signature course Lifestyle + Posed Newborn Course, be sure to log in today to binge watch the Lifestyle Flash Mini Course which is included in your portal. Taking beautiful, perfectly lit newborn photos does not have to be scary! These resources will prepare you for any lighting scenario you face and will teach you how to photograph newborn sessions in natural light (even when you have to pull out that flash).