Happy summer, friends! I've been enjoying some Q&A in photography mentoring sessions, and though every photographer has their own style, I thought I'd share what's in MY bag to illuminate any home, whether they have beautiful natural light or not. I travel light and carry all of this on my back (not including newborn props, etc). To perfectly illustrate an example of all of these items used, I'm featuring beautiful baby K and her amazing parents, Ramsey and Laura. Questions? Feel free to ask in the comments. I'm all about helping and contributing to the village!
- Find the windows. Windows are your best friend. They provide the most natural light for beautiful photos, and it is best to position your client’s faces evenly toward this natural light.
- Bring your diffuser and reflector. Sometimes window light can be harsh, especially if the sun is out in full force. Some diffusers are sheer white curtains if the client already has them, or you can use the diffuser that comes with your 5-in-1 reflector. Alternatively, shoot just outside of the sunshine line and use a white or silver reflector behind baby.
- Bring a speed light flash, especially if you have not assessed a home prior to the shoot. Sometimes windows can be covered by foliage and you’ll need to rely on more than high ISO and can't compensate with lowering shutter speed with toddler siblings around. 😃 When using your strong speedlight in a poorly lit but essential room (i.e. nursery), always use bounce light on the walls behind you or on a standard height ceiling; never blow direct flash into your subject’s eyeballs. Bounce light will light your subject & rooms beautifully, and will fill in harsh shadows in rooms that have a single small window.
- Soft umbrella light with a 5500K CFL bulb (or similar. 5500K is the correct temperature for proper color). If you’ll need to shoot in an iconic place such as the nursery or mom & dad’s bed, the scene must be softly lit. For close-ups of baby (or baby solos), setting up a quick umbrella light with a CFL bulb will do the trick. Sometimes you’ll need to use bounce flash for lighting the whole family, but try to use as little flash on an alert baby’s eyes as possible.
- Don’t forget extra batteries for both your camera and your speedlight flash!
- Bedroom decor. Encourage white, cream or neutral colored sheets for beds. It adds to the light & airy look, bringing more focus to the people, and brings light back up to the under-eye area for the faux well-rested look (everyone is tired when babies are involved!).
- Keep your subjects from looking into direct sun (especially baby, who lays down looking up) unless you’re using a diffuser or putting together a backlit shot.
- For family scenes, you’ll need a larger space. The more people in the photo = the more light you will need for proper focus. This is a case for using your flash and bouncing off walls for softer lighting, or simply have the family face the window with a clean background.
- Not sure of the right position for flash? Set up and test shoot while baby is being fed or changed. Use stuffed animals if you really need subject. 😃