5 Steps to Lighting a Newborn Session with Off-Camera Flash

February 20, 2013

in Lighting, Newborn Photography, Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials, Rachel Durik

I Heart Faces Off-Camera Lighting for Newborns


Continuing her series on lighting tips for newborn photography, I Heart Faces Creative Team Member, Rachel Durik of Savor Photography, is sharing tips for using off-camera flash with newborns today.  You can read her natural light tips here:

I prefer to light newborns with natural light. There’s something about the look of window light that lends itself to newborn sessions. However, when you’re at the mercy of nature, you have to be prepared for less-than-stellar light days. Like this one.

I Heart Faces Off-Camera Lighting for Newborns

Can you see that? Neither can I. Enter flash. By simply setting up one light at the edge of the bed, we’re back in business – literally!

I Heart Faces Off-Camera Lighting for Newborns

1. Set Up Your Light

I’m using Alien Bees 800, but any flash would do. For information about how to set this up and the equipment you’ll need, you can watch this video.

I Heart Faces Off-Camera Lighting for Newborns

2. Position Light and Baby

When I’m using a flash instead of natural light, I still like to think of the flash as a window and position the flash and the baby as I would if the flash were a window. In this case, the flash was at about a 45 degree angle from the baby. You’ll likely want to avoid flash straight on. It can cause unflattering shadows and flatten the image. Off to the side is a good place to start.

3. Consider the Power of Your Flash

A lot of times, the goal of a newborn session is to keep baby asleep. When you have a birght and powerful flash going off in his or her face every five seconds, you’re running the risk of waking baby up. Instead, dial down the power or move the flash away.

4. Diffuse the Light

If you have a soft box or umbrella, you’ll want to use it to diffuse the light. I like to either bounce light off my umbrella or shoot through it. Direct light will make a much harsher look, which may not be the look you’re going for in a newborn shoot.

I Heart Faces Off-Camera Lighting for Newborns

5. Combine Light Sources

If you still have any available window light, use it in addition to your flash. Just be conscious of where your light sources are and act accordingly.

If you want to take better newborn images, check out our FREE Newborn Photography Guide with links to over 100 of the best newborn photography tutorials, tips and ideas compiled from across the web!

Rachel Durik Headshot copyRachel Durik is a photographer located in Southwest Florida. You can learn more by visiting her photography site, Savor Photography, Naples Wedding Photographer, blog, or the Savor Facebook page.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

hrd November 28, 2016

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Kristen November 11, 2014

I have a continuous light softbox I just bought. I don’t have an off camera flash. Would this softbox work for newborn photos? My windows are small and my porch has a large overhang which doesn’t let in much light. Any suggestions?

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kathy hopkins May 2, 2013

Id use the custom wb setting.

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Bill Dabovich April 12, 2013

Great tutorial. In your last tip you mentioned using both flash and natural light. How do you adjust for the white balance if you have both natural and artificial light?

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Chad McKinney September 19, 2013

Use CTO or CTB gels on your flash/strobe to color the flashes light to match that of the daylight. Then set your camera to the correct WB or shoot RAW and adjust as needed in post.

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Jean Smith February 20, 2013

Thanks Rachel, great tips!

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