In this episode of Capture The Chaos: Grow Your Newborn & Family Photography Business I’ll share what to do when there is no natural light in your client’s home. We will discuss camera settings, how to find the light, tools you can use to brighten shadows, and creative ways you can use light in a dark home.
Join the waitlist for Calm The Chaos: A Lifestyle Photographers Guide to Newborn Sessions for freebies, sneak peek at course content, and an exclusive offer.
Thank you for being here mama.
So when I first started doing research for what people needed to see in an online newborn course the thing that kept popping up the most was what to do when there is no natural light in your client’s home. And that was number one, hands down the biggest stressor for most photographers. And so I knew that that had to be a really super important part of this newborn course that’s coming out. And it is a huge chunk of the course. I tried to provide lots of different lighting situations in order to teach you how to be more confident when you walked into someone’s home. So today I wanted to talk about a few things that you can do when there’s no natural light in your client’s home.
As a lifestyle, newborn photographer you know how important quality newborn education is to your business. But where do you find that education without feeling overwhelmed by one quick Google search?
Have you ever walked into a client’s home and the unknown lighting situation lowkey freaks you out? Have you ever handed the baby over to mama at the first sign of a fuss instead of attempting to soothe them yourself? Have you ever brought a list of poses you found on Pinterest, but they were difficult to implement and they felt a little stiff and awkward? Yeah, I’ve been there too. When I first started lifestyle newborn photography, eight years ago, I couldn’t efficiently soothe babies. I would have a minor meltdown if there wasn’t enough natural light. I found all of my poses on Pinterest and I wasn’t able to capture that natural and authentic love. Sure, I got some cute photos, but there was definitely something missing.
So I lurked in Facebook groups and spent hours searching YouTube. I continued till I learned how to take that chef kiss amazing newborn photo. You can do it like that too. It only took me eight years and three of my own kids to learn what I know now.
Okay, but seriously, do you want to achieve those beautiful newborn images you dream about? And start charging a higher price tag on your newborn sessions? All in a fraction of the time that it took me? I got you! Enter Calm the Chaos, The Lifestyle Photographers Guide to Newborn Sessions. In this virtual, self- paced course you’ll learn how to nail in home lighting in every situation, swaddle and soothe like a baby whisper, create natural comfortable poses, and plan and execute a smoother session flow. Head to www.brittnierenee.com/newborn-course to get on the wait list. I’ll be sharing sneak peaks from the course, free goodies and an exclusive offer just for those on the list.
All right. If you know me, or if you follow me on social media, you know that I prefer to use added light. It gives me flexibility to shoot in darker rooms without having to stay near the window. Added light doesn’t have to be scary, I promise. I used to be scared of it. I used to be like, “I’m a natural light photographer” and you know what I say about natural life photographers or self proclaimed natural light photographers. It just means you don’t know how to use flash and you’re scared to admit it. Hard truths guys.
So, flash or added light is really similar to window light if you know how to use it. You can even use it to enhance your window light. But for the purpose of this episode, I’m going to assume you don’t have added light or you just don’t want to use it.
Let’s dive into a few rules to keep in mind with any type of light.
If you were to shoot with light straight on your subjects facing directly into the light, there would be no shadows. Shadows help create a more interesting image. You can manipulate your shadows to fit your stylistic needs and create some really awesome images.
Let’s say you walk into a home and there isn’t a lot of light. What are you going to do? Are you going to go into the corner and cry? No, you’re not. You’re going to stay calm. You’re not gonna panic. Make sure you’re shooting in RAW. It’s going to be a lot easier to edit and save those shadows when you’re shooting in RAW.
Make sure your settings on your camera work for lower light. You’ll want your aperture as wide open as possible and that means you’re at a low F stop number. Wide apertures let in more light to your sensor, bump your ISO up as high as you can without a lot of noise. ISO is how sensitive your sensor is too light. The higher the number, the more sensitive it will be to light making your images brighter. But also as you go up, it’s gonna get a little grainier. So you have to find that fine line before it gets too grainy and go just below that.
When shooting indoors I like to live with my shutter speed between 1/100th of a second to 1/250th of a second. If you’ve heard me talk about my flash or using flash, you can’t shoot any faster than 1/250th of a second with a flash. Depending if there’s toddlers or not, I’m going to go as high as 250 if there’s no toddlers, I’ll go down to 1/100th of a second. As you are aware little kids tend to not sit still very long. In an ideal situation I want my shutter speed to be a bit faster, but if I’m working in lower light, 1/250th of a second will do.
Next, find the light. Remember larger windows, softer shadows; smaller window, more contrasty shadows. We’re going to get close to the window and we’re going to face the subject’s towards the window at about 45 degree angle, so that the window light is going to be hitting the side of their cheek. One cheek, not both. You may want to turn them slightly towards the window a little bit more so you’re gonna be hitting light on both of their eyes. You want to make sure there are catch lights, which is basically just a fancy word for highlights, in both of your subject’s eyes. When you don’t have highlights in their eyes, they look flat and empty. Not so good, not so good.
If it really is still too dark and there are too many shadows for your liking, you can use items to reflect the light back onto your subject. Remember, light travels in a straight line until it’s deflected onto another surface. You can use anything white that would reflect light back into the shadow of your subject. You can use a reflector, even a white bone board, or if you wanna get crafty, you can use a rubber made lid. Have someone hold the reflector on the opposite side of the subject as the window so that the window light hits the surface and directs back into the shadowed area.
Now, lastly, go ahead and just lean into that darkness. You can create some really cool images in darker situations. Try doing a back lit silhouette in front of the window. Back lighting a baby is a great way to show off their side profile, and you can also catch subtle details like the hair on their skin by using back lighting. In fact, back lighting is the preferred method when capturing detail shots. You can even use the contrast of a dark background shadow with your subject being more brightly lit to create a really cool negative space image.
So like I said, in Calm the Chaos, The Lifestyle Photographers Guide to Newborn Sessions, I take you through multiple lighting situations so you feel confident walking into any situation. Again, you can hop onto the wait list to get behind the scenes sneak peeks of the course, some pretty cool freebies, and an exclusive offer just for being on the wait list. So go ahead and head to brittnierenee.com/newborn-course.
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