I recently received an email from a reader asking for advice on photographing newborn photos inside of her client’s house using only natural light. Because I typically use artificial light mixed with natural light, I decided to call upon my friend Angela Pointon to share her advice. Angela is an amazing newborn photographer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to her awesome advice, you are going to see some photographs from her session with my niece Harper.
Be sure to comment with any questions you might have.
On to you Angela…
When I started my newborn photography business, I knew I wanted to travel to clients’ homes to shoot on location. Unfortunately, I also knew that I’d be walking into a situation each time where I wouldn’t have an understanding of the window lighting before the shoot.
Since posed newborn photography is fairly simple, I’ve perfected and maintained the same typical setup each time. Here is a step-by-step guide to shooting indoors with a simple natural light set up.
Find the sun
Not all windows are created equal and when you’re trying to find the best room in the house to shoot in, knowing where the sun is and where it’s going to move to during your shoot helps.
There are iPhone and Android apps to help you locate the angle of the sun. Depending on your environment, you can use the location of the sun choose the best light. I’m located in Pennsylvania and there are lots of towering tall oak trees inside the local neighborhoods. In fact, some of my clients live in a densely wooded, hilly area of town. Most of my shoots are in the morning, and I seek out a window that is southeast facing to gain the most light through the shadows of the trees and neighboring houses.
Make sure your room is fairly neutral
If you’re shooting in a room that’s painted a strong color, it will likely cast color onto your subject. This also goes for the clothing you wear, if you get close to your subjects during your shoot. Try, whenever possible, to shoot inside a room that’s painted white, beige or tan and wear neutral colored clothing. It will help limit your post-processing work.
Position your subjects near a window
I use the same exact setup for every newborn shoot. I position my subject, posing pillow and backdrop near a window. I have a large piece of white gauze fabric and painter’s tape to diffuse the window light if needed on a really sunny day. You can get the gauze fabric at any fabric or hobby store and painter’s tape at any hardware store.
Here is a drawing of my typical setup:
Use a reflector to bounce light back onto the subject(s)
A large piece of foam core or circular reflector works great for bouncing light back onto a subject, filling in shadows and bringing out detail that would otherwise fall into shadow. Since I travel to my shoots, I prefer a reflector since it folds up small enough to fit inside my camera bag.
Don’t be afraid to crawl around or climb on things
I’m fairly tall and can easily get over my subjects, but I know photographers that bring a step stool with them to shoots. If you’re short and you find yourself wishing for some height, this might be a good idea. Often times I’m getting onto the floor and moving around on my belly to get different angles and detail shots.
Don’t be afraid to move over, under and around your subjects to gain better images. Using natural light makes this easier since there are no light stands in your way causing potential tripping hazards.
Angela Pointon is the founder of Angela Pointon Photography and Steel Toe Images, which offers advice and inspiring motivation for creative business owners. Angela’s weekly email newsletter is packed with advice for creative entrepreneurs, which can be subscribed to for free here. In addition, she has authored multiple books, is a monthly columnist for Professional Photographer Magazine, blogs at Steel Toe Images and posts to Facebook, G+, Pinterest and Twitter.