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Lighting Tips: Adding A Second Light | Virginia Maternity Photographer

As most of you know, I’m kind of obsessed with studio lights. I spent my first 3 years in business as a “natural light snob”, terrified of lights/flash only because I was completely intimidated by it’s complexity, and worried it would make my work look “flashy” and “unnatural”.  Once I moved into my studio space and decided to give studio lights a try 3 years ago, I’ve grown to love studio lights and would never go back to only shooting natural light again. As a professional photographer, I think it’s important to master all light, natural and artificial, to be well rounded and set yourself apart from your competition.

I’ve spoken at length about how to use one light in newborn photography here, here, which have also been published over on WestottU here, and here. Now I’m going to tell you how you can add a second light to your lighting arsenal and why it rocks. I’m here to tell you, if I can figure this out, anyone can. I’m by no means a true lighting master, but I’ve learned to see the light and how it can be used to sculpt and transform your portraits from ordinary to extraordinary.

For newborn work, I do love how I can control the shadows with one light, but when shooting parents against a dark backdrop, which I often do, or shooting dramatic maternity portraits, I knew I needed a little something else. Enter the small but mighty 18″ x 24″ Bruce Dorn Asymmetrical Travel Stripbank. I love that it’s small, easy to fold up and put together fast, and easy to change from a 2nd fill light to a main light by just switching out the 3 diffusion panels it comes with. The asymmetrical feather feature of the light is extra awesome when using it for dramatic studio maternity portraits.

If you are using the AB400 from Paul C Buff (which is the light I already owned), you will need an adapter ring from Westcott so that the softbox easily fits right over the light. You will also need another heavy duty light stand, a boom arm would be helpful in this situation, but I was able to get the light up high enough and angled down with just using a standard heavy duty light stand without the boom.

For all of these examples, I’m using my Einstein Light inside my Westcott 50×50 Softbox as my main light and then added my AB400 inside the 18×24 Stripbank for my 2nd hair light. Adding a second light is easy, especially if you already have one light wirelessly triggered. When push the shutter button on your camera and fire off your main strobe, your 2nd light will also fire without any additional triggers on slave.

Please do not laugh at my horrible drawing/diagram skills, I’m pretty sure it looks like my Kindergartener did it, but I assure you, this was all me.;-)

First up, I had my main light feathered out in front and the hair light positioned above and behind the subject to light my subject more traditionally. Both lights are on the same side, both camera right.

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I adore how I’m still getting beautiful shadows in her face, but her hair and body are being lit from behind so there’s more separation from the dark backdrop.

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For the next example, I know I wanted some more dramatic lighting to accentuate her gorgeous pregnant belly so I pulled my main light inside the 50×50 softbox BEHIND the subject along with the stripbox still above lighting her hair to get this look. Both lights are still on the same side, both camera right, but the 50×50 main light is pulled behind the subject, as opposed to in front, feathered.

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In the first image, I loved it, but I wanted to light the belly from the front so I pulled my main light out front and to the other side and had my stripbox lighting her from behind and above. The 2nd light (which I powered up a bit more from the shots above) now acted not only as a hair light but as a nice fill light. Now I have the lights on each side, main light camera left and stripbox camera right.

Here’s a pullback from that setup:
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And some shots with that setup, you can see that even with 2 lights on opposite sides of the subject, I’m still getting nice shadows by pulling the 2nd light more behind the subject with the main light feathered in front.

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Virginia Maternity Photographer

Here you can see what the above setup, two light’s on opposite sides, looks like on a lighter backdrop:
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To give you an example at how much of a difference the 2nd light makes, I took one shot with it on (with the 2 light setup as shown in the pullback above) and then turned the hair light OFF and used just the 50×50 feathered in front.

With hair light:
Virginia Maternity Photographer

WITHOUT hair light:
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The shot without the hair light is still dramatic and beautiful, but I love how the 2nd light adds that little extra behind her so that there isn’t as much darkness on her back shoulder/hair. I could have also had my subject turned towards the light and gotten the look like the first shot, with the belly more lit.

Next, I decided to do more dramatically back lit images with the lights still on both sides sculpting their pregnancy curves, I placed the main light behind the front of the subject and had the hair light above and behind the subject to add some fill to the opposite side and light their hair. I LOVE this look.

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In the above shots, with both lights BEHIND my subject, but still on each side of her (main light camera left, stripbox on camera right) I’m using the lights to form a rim of light around both sides of my subject which illuminates their shapes perfectly and dramatically.

Here are a few examples of using only one light in the 50×50 softbox. In this situation I was using a wall in my studio to pose my subject and did not have room to throw in the 2nd hair light. First here’s the light pulled behind the subject:
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And then here it is pulled in front of the subject, feathered:
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In my last example, I wanted to show you the difference adding a 2nd light adds to lighting parent and newborn shots against a black backdrop. This client had black hair which blends into the backdrop here lit without the hair light:

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Here’s the same shot, except with the 2nd “hair light” turned on behind and above the subject which helps light her dark hair and makes her pop more from the black backdrop:
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I hope these examples give you inspiration to go out and try new things with lighting! I cover newborn lighting extensively during my in-person newborn workshop and am now taking students for my October class, May’s workshop is already sold out.

As always, I’m always happy to answer questions in the comments of his blog post, via email (amber@littlemoonphotography.com), or on my busy Facebook Page.

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FAQ V7 | Virginia Newborn Photographer & Washington DC Newborn Photographer

**** Just a quick addendum to this post since it seems to be spreading around like wildfire. What I posted is how I do things, and most definitely not the ONLY way to do things. This is strictly my opinion, and what works for me. I figured that throwing out a few basics with lighting would be helpful to those just starting out, or afraid of studio lights. If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. ****

 

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve done a FAQ post! Now that I’m home and resting from back surgery, I actually have time to tackle this and do it well. Let’s get started!!

1. “Why did you switch to studio lights?”

This is the most common question I get. I made the switch from natural light to strobe/studio lighting in 2011, and haven’t looked back. I find it is easiest to use lights if you have a studio, but not impossible to do on-location either. I would get frustrated on cloudy, dark winter days that I had to raise my ISO, I never have to worry about the weather with studio lights.

Why do I prefer studio lights? They are consistent, your white balance stays the same the whole time, your exposure stays the same (unless you adjust the light’s power), you can shoot at ISO100 producing the best quality images with no noise. You can also control and sculpt the the light with them which gives you very precise control over your shadowing, which in newborn photography is super important.

 

2. “What made you switch from the AB400 to the Einstein? How are they different?”

I had a few photographer friends who made the switch over a year ago and was loving their results, so I decided to try the Einstein for myself. I can tell you with complete certainty that the Einstein’s light quality is a million times better than the AB400.

I find it’s more consistent in color and power output shot for shot. It’s also faster so you don’t ever miss a shot. With both lights, I was able to shoot pretty wide open, but the Einstein I can shoot even wider open. The digital display definitely doesn’t hurt either, it’s just easier to use and a better quality product.

By far though, what sold me on this light was the skin tones and color you are able to get SOOC (straight out of the camera). The AB400 shot very, very red and most newborns tend to have red undertones in their skin, so I spent a LOT of time trying to take the red out of their skin in post processing.

Here is a side by side comparison. Both shots taken within minutes of each other, camera settings the same, light placement the same, white balance the same, and both images are SOOC and I’d say that hands down, the better image is from the Eienstein:

lightcomparison4. “What settings do you use on your light to shoot a newborn? What about a baby? A family?”

I tend to shoot babies on the beanbag between f/2.0-f/2.5. I do this purposely so that the blanket fades off nicely in the background. I’ve seen people stop down a bit and then fade the blanket in Photoshop, but I prefer to fade my blanket in camera. Plus, it just looks pretty.

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I love how the blanket’s striped texture is visible in the foreground but fades out in the background and is nice and blurry. This image was shot at f/2.2.

Prop shots (single baby) are also shot around f/2.0-f/2.2, again because I want everything to fade off into the background.

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All you have to do when you are using studio lights to switch f-stops is adjust the power setting on your light. Here you can see my Einstein & AB400 settings when shooting at f/2.2 in camera.

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I typically shoot more than 2 people at f/3.5-f/4.5 so that every person is in focus. When I’m shooting from above, I use my 24-70 2.8L so that I can get a wider angle than my 50 1.2L, so I tend to shoot at f/2.8-f/3.2 on these shots. If I’m siblings from above, I’m usually at f/3.5-f/4.5.

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5. What softbox do you use and why? Where exactly do you put your sofbox to get nice shadows?

I LOVE my Westcott Apollo 50×50 Softbox. It’s BIG, but the larger the light source, the softer the light. The recessed edges make it super easy to control your shadows and it’s super versatile, I can use it on Newborns, Maternity, Babies & Families. I have also used it creatively on location for these CrossFit Maternity images.

I always aim to feather my light so that I get nice light going down the baby’s body, the shadows help define their tiny little features. My light is always placed about 90 degrees shining down the head/face.

Here is the correct way to place the softbox to get ideal shadows/even lighting for newborns:

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Here are a few pullbacks from that “correct” setup:
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And the resulting correctly lit image SOOC (straight out of the camera):
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One mistake I see often is people place the edge of the box or light source (window/sliding glass door) BEHIND the babies head. Doing this gives deeper shadows and “black holes” for eyes since the light is not feathering/skimming down the front of the baby, instead baby is being lit from the front and the back.

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Here’s the resulting image from that “bad” placement, the differences are not huge, but definitely noticeable, especially in the eye sockets as they are dark and unlit.
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One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is flatly lit newborn images. I find that lighting a newborn flatly is not flattering to their little features, here you can see the placement of a light for this situation:
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Too much light coming in FRONT of the baby and not cascading DOWN the baby gives you very little shadowing as seen in the resulting image here:
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The flatly lit image converted to black and light will look horrible & muddy.
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The image with the softbox placed so that the light is perfectly feathered, the black and white conversion has much more depth and contrast.
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Another mistake I see is “butt lighting”, where the light source is placed at the baby’s rear instead of head. This produces a scary “ghoul” look and should NEVER be done.

 

6. “How do you balance your photography business and home life with two young children?”

This is hard for ANY working mama, but obviously most important. My family ALWAYS comes first. I run my studio like a 9-5 job M-F so I do have full time childcare during the week. My older son is in Kinder now, but it’s only half day here so he goes to an afterschool program until I pick them up around 3:30 or 4 every day. I shoot newborns ONLY on weekdays (which is the bulk of my business), and will take one weekend session a week, that’s it. I try to always schedule one weekend without sessions monthly so that we have flexibility to get out of town to my Dad’s farm.

I only edit during business hours when my kids are at school or at night after they are in bed. When they are home, I TRY to not do any work on the computer, this is the same on weekends too. Am I perfect? NO, but I try. I spent the first 1.5 years of my business as a weekend warrior, jamming 4-5 sessions in to every weekend while working a 9-5 corporate job. It was a HUGE sacrifice I had to make to build my business, so I don’t regret it, but it was miserable for me and my oldest son.

If you are going to be away from your kids, please make sure you are compensated for that time. I see too many photographers shooting 200, even 300 sessions a year charging peanuts for their work. Not only does that work out to minimum wage, that’s a lot of time away from the family. CHARGE FOR YOUR TIME. Do the math and figure out what you need to pay yourself in salary, and work your way back. Don’t forget taxes will take 30-40% of your gross sales!

 

7.  ”What do you use to prop/support babies when posing them on their sides/tummies?”

I use rolled up receiving blankets! You can see them on the floor in the pullbacks posted above. I have 5 or 6 blankets on top of my vinyl extra large puck beanbag and slide the rolled up blankets under the bottom layer and adjust or add more as needed to get the pose to my liking.

 

8. “Who are some of your favorite vendors for fabrics, hats, props? 

I get all of my beanbag fabrics & maternity gowns (that’s coming soon!!!) from Roses & Ruffles, she’s not only super duper nice, but she ships very fast and her prices are very reasonable. She has the BEST selection of fabrics. Here are a few favorite fabrics/backdrops I have from Roses & Ruffles:

This blue is gorgeous!

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This is my all time favorite purple!
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Gorgeous green with little sparkles!

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For hats, hands down my favorite knitters are Chickyloo Knits & Pooks & Lulu.

 

9. “I was wondering how you resolve the issue of selling digital files to customers.”

I offer them but I’m priced so that I cover my expenses and pay myself a salary, I refuse to sell digital files for cheap. I covered this issue in depth here.

 

10.  ”I’ve been having so many issues with posing. I can never seem to get a baby to sleep enough to let me position them and can never seem to duplicate a pose from one baby to the next. My question is how do you pose your little ones? How do you ensure the same poses from one baby to the next and transition into other poses.”

PATIENCE!!! When the baby arrives at my studio, they are usually asleep from the car ride over, I will then take them out of their carseat myself (not the parents) and get started slowly undressing them while keeping them asleep.  I take as long as I need to do this to keep them asleep, this can sometimes take 20 minutes! It’s worth it to be patient to keep them asleep.

Once they are undressed and undiapered, I wrap them in a soft, warm blanket and pose them in my arms before laying them on the beanbag. I usually start with either “tushy in the air pose” or the “taco” pose on the beanbag first and I always pose them in my lap/hands and not on the beanbag. Once they are in these poses on their tummies, they tend to settle faster and I’m able to move onto other poses and keep them asleep.

“tushy in air” pose:

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or “taco” pose, these are both my usual go-to starting poses.
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I have a very specific method and workflow with newborn sessions and I cover this in depth at my in-person workshops! The next workshop is on May 12th in my Leesburg, Virginia studio and I still have openings for students. My workshops are small (max of 6 students) and my students get a lot of one on one instruction from me. Here are a few photos from my last workshop taken by my very good friend Lou!

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I cover a lot of other frequently asked questions in my older FAQ posts, you can see all of those here.

Hope this was helpful!

FAQ V6 | Northern Virginia Newborn & Baby Photographer

I started doing these “frequently asked questions” posts on a whim 4 years ago and they are still some of my most popular posts! I’m so glad I can be of help to other photographers and enjoy sharing my experiences with others. I got some great questions this go round so let’s do this!

1. As a newborn photographer, this is my biggest issue- clients bringing along their ipad to a newborn session and every minutes asking if I “can get this shot?” This is especially tough if it’s not my style or overly “proppy”. 

Ah yes, we all love Pinterest don’t we?! Here’s where you have to kind of tread gently, you want your clients to be happy with their images but you also do not want to copy someone else’s work or misrepresent yourself as an artist.

I always welcome my clients to bring props they want to incorporate and I’ve had a lot of amazing things brought into my studio! I love using these things because they mean something special to my clients, like a handmade quilt:

Or an antique Navajo Cradleboard:

or a fire helmet:

I’m always happy to try to use anything they bring in that’s special to them but if they come with me with an idea that’s completely not mine that would be copying someone else, I will not do it. Some of the cheesier stuff I see out there, I just do not have in my studio so unless they bring it, I won’t do it. Lets be honest, we are shooting for our CLIENTS who are PAYING us, not always ourselves. As long as it does not compromise my artistic integrity or someone else’s I will take images that make my client happy. I will say though, that most of my clients come to me for MY work and want what they see on my website & blog.

2) What camera settings is your camera set to? (metering, focus mode, etc):

I spot meter, use one shot focus, custom or kelvin white balance (custom outside the studio, kelvin in my studio), and I toggle my focus points.:-)

3) Do you have any advice for when your a natural light photographer shooting newborn at a clients house and they have NO good light?!

Get creative! Scope out the entire house and find the best window that is LOWEST to the ground. Sliding glass doors are ideal because there is usually a good amount of space right by them. You can also put the beanbag on top of a bed and use a window right by the bed. I used to jam myself and my beanbag in the tiniest spaces to get the good light. You want to get as close as possible to the light source too!

Here’s a natural light pullback:

4) What do you do when your newborns refuse to be posed! No matter how long you spend trying to position them, nothing seems to work??

Sometimes you are going to catch a baby on a “bad” day, they aren’t happy, don’t want to sleep, pose, are cranky, etc. It’s tough but there are a few things to try to avoid it:
- make sure they are between the ages 6-12 days, not too young that they are still starving because mom’s milk hasn’t come in and not too old that they are alert.
- Make sure the room is hot.
- Full belly.
- White noise.

If they are still unhappy and you need to get shots, do the safe shots! Swaddled, swaddled in props, in mom’s arms, in dad’s arms, etc. You can’t pose a baby that’s not asleep, it’s just not possible  or safe IMO so instead of forcing it, try other things while they are awake as long as they are not screaming.

Here are some of my go-to awake baby shots:

If all else fails, call it a day and try again another day.

5) I would love to know how do you process your images.

The key to this is to get your shots as perfect as possible Straight Out Of the Camera (SOOC). Make sure you have nice lighting, good white balance and exposure and you won’t have to do much to process your images.

Here are a few before & afters, the SOOC (before) shot is on top:

For my processing I start in ACR where I usually edit in “neutral”, then I just adjust exposure, blacks, fill light and the tint/temp slider to my liking. Once in photoshop I bump the midtones with a curves adjustment, do a levels adjustment, add contrast, take out a little red in a selective color layer and the run Portraiture and reduce the opacity down to 30-40% and erase back the eyes, mouth and hairline.

6) I started my business (unintentionally) a few years ago and while I have the business side down pat I am discouraged at the quality in my work
and really want to improve.

I think the best thing you can do for your business is produce consistent work for your clients, they want to know exactly what they are getting from looking at your website. If you feel like you need to improve the quality of your work, it’s time to take a step back from charging and go back to learning and building your portfolio and finding yourself. Figure out the area you need the most work in and study it, ask other photographers whom you admire (very nicely) for help. Most importantly, ask for constructive criticism on your work! Join a Photography Forum (Clickin Moms & Learn Shoot Inspire are two that are amazing) and take advantage of all of the information that is out there for you!

7) Have you ever had conflicts with friends when it came to pricing or discounts? I am struggling with that right now – while my prices have steadily increased, along with demand, I feel like my friends that I originally did portfolio building sessions and no longer can afford my prices may feel like I’m price gouging them!

I offer close friends my Friends & Family pricing but other than that, you are going to lose clients when you increase your prices no matter what but they will understand you need to do what you need to do to run your business and make a living. I don’t go to my friends offices asking for a discount or free stuff, so they do the same for me. You could also offer mini sessions just for them once a year at a discounted price. It’s tough, but you run a business not a charity.

8. Have you ever taken any online or in person workshops? What do you feel has been the greatest investment in your business? My guess is your gorgeous studio!

I have never taken a workshop, I’m 100% self taught but do have a Marketing Management degree from Virginia Tech. I do, however, teach workshops both in person and online. Online I offer a Break-Out Online Workshop at Clickin Moms:

That workshop is open to anyone and then I offer in-person workshops at my studio open to those outside of the DC Metro area.

The greatest investment in my business so far (besides my equipment) has been my studio. I’m able to work more often but much more efficiently and having a studio just works for my business model. I would not recommend it for all business models though. Plus, it’s pretty.:-)

9. I’ve seen a lot of photographers offer maybe up to 30 proofs and that seems like so much to me from just one newborn session. I wonder if they have 30 different poses or if there are several pictures of each pose, so that several pictures are almost identical except for maybe a slightly different facial expression? The last session I did, I ended up with somewhere around 15 proofs that I really loved, but that’s because I only chose about 1 photo from each pose/backdrop. Should I be offering multiple photos of each pose we do? Or should I be spending more time changing backdrops, headbands, poses, etc to get more photos?

Yes! You should definitely be showing more than that! I promise my clients 25-35 images and typically show 35-40. I aim to shoot on 3 different blankets, 2 different props, family shots, sibling shots and shots with each parent. On each blanket you should try to get a few different poses out of it and different angles. Just move yourself instead of the baby, stand up, get on your knees, etc. Here’s a quick example of the same pose but moving yourself so you get 3 different shots:

10) I wondered about your outdoor photos… Do you ever use fill flash or any type of flash outdoors? Do you only shoot at sunset? I find that I get a lot of colour casts in my outdoor photos if I’m not careful, and I think that using those two things might help.

Ideally I’d always shoot outside at sunset because the lighting at that time is just divine!

That is not always possible though! I shoot a lot of younger kids and babies and evening hours can be their witching hour. The 2nd best time? Early in the morning! The sun is still nice and low between 7-8 am so you can still get some pretty backlighting then like this:

I do not use any flash outside, I’m shooting with the sun behind or to the side of my subjects or in open shade if the sun is too high in the sky mid-day.

Hope that helps!!

FAQ V5 | Virginia Newborn Photography

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Woah, has it really been over a year since my last FAQ post? That’s just crazy, I really enjoy these posts and I know my blog readers do too. I will try to answer most of the questions, some of them are not easily explained in a blog post and are better learned in person, like posing. If you are interested in my next workshop (will probably be in April) shoot me an email, amber@littlemoonphotography.com

1.

“I am new to using an Alien Bee on my newborns. I took the CM breakout, but what I want to know is what your default settings are on your studio lighting or if it varies based on the light coming into your studio. Do you keep your light a 1/32 power, etc. How far away do you set up your light from your subject and do you use the one light no matter what the conditions of light are coming in to your studio? So if it is sunny, do you still you the light? Hope that makes sense! Trying to learn how to effectively use my AB:-)Looking forward to your post!”

“My question is: how many and what type lights do you use? How far away from the baby are they placed?”

Ah this was a very popular question and a fun one to answer. As most of you know, I spent 3 years only shooting natural light, studio lights scared me. Once I got my studio as much as I love the natural light it gets, I do get nervous about really dark winter days around here and having enough available light. I figured to buy a light, softbox, stand and triggers and see what I could do. I spent about a week just practicing to figure it out and have been using it ever since. I find lights to be 100 times easier to use, my images have better clarity and it’s so so so consistent color wise it makes editing a dream.

I use an AB400 (alien bee), a Westcott 50×50 Softbox, a heavy duty light stand and the Paul C Bluff wireless triggers. I love the AB400 because it’s not too powerful and I can shoot wide open just like I did with natural light. It really doesn’t matter too much what kind of weather it is outside, I do cover the windows if the sun is blaring in too much but for the most part in the winter, I don’t really need to, the light overpowers the ambient light from the windows. You can test this by just taking a shot with the same settings you are using with the light with the light turned off, since you are shooting at ISO100, very little ambient light will get in.

For settings, I typically shoot at f/2.2, ISO100, a SS between 100-200 and my light powered to 1/16. I just adjust as needed and always pay attention to my histogram to make sure I’m not blowing out any of my channels, with newborn and their warm skin, reds are usually the first to blow so be careful. If I want to close down and shoot at say f/4.5, I’d power my light to about 1/4 power. If I wanted to shoot at f/1.4 – f/1.8, I’d power my light down to 1/32.

To get natural looking light, you want to feather the light, I’m sure there are other tutorials out there that can explain it better, but you want the light to just fall over the front of the babies face, never uplight the baby either, always light down the face.

A few photos of how my light is set up and how the baby would be posed in that set up:

I always look at how the light is falling on the baby and move my light as needed. I love how using one light I can get beautiful shadows and definition on these tiny little babies faces. I treat the softbox just like it’s a window.

2. “How important is portraiture in your processing? The skin on your babies look smooth and amazing. I saw first hand they do not look like that in person with stork bites and peeling skin so do you edit before portraiture first or just run that and it smooths the skin enough?”

“I’ve always loved your work (as does everyone) and would love to know how you fix blotchy red patches on baby’s skin.”

I swear that Imagenomic should start paying me for pimping them out.:-PYes, I love Portraiture especially for newborns but you have to use it very carefully and make sure you either do it and reduce the opacity on that layer or erase some of it back. I see some people that do it so strongly that their babies look plastic and that’s just not a good look. Newborns almost always have splotches, dry skin patches, etc. and I think that Portraiture helps that and it adds that extra polish to the photo that turns it into art. If you look back in my last FAQ you can see the actual settings I use within Portraiture.

I run Portraiture (it’s part of my workflow that I’e turned into my own action, that way I can batch edit) and then fix any splotches or acne spots. I usually just use the clone or heal tool to fix those, I feel like I have more control. I feel like Portraiture helps it a lot and then I fix it completely with cloning and healing.

As you can see in this before & after, it definitely helps add that extra polish but still keeps his skin looking natural and beautiful.

3. Where do you see the future of newborn photography going? Right now it seems many are doing the same look/feel to things — baby’s with hats and bands, textures, babies in boxes and baskets… Where do you go for inspiration?

What’s one thing you wished someone told you about photographing children early on…

Hoo boy, this is a great question! Right now Newborn Photography seems to be all the rage and there are photographers and workshops popping up everywhere. If you know anything about me, I 100% believe that if you don’t know how to run a business well, you will not last in this industry so we will se a lot of photographers coming but also closing shop. While it’s all fun and games to snuggle and photograph these tiny little gems, that part only takes up about 10% of my business, the rest is post processing, orders, client communication, taxes, etc. I have built a loyal customer base by not only producing nice images but also going above and beyond to make sure the entire experience they have with me is fun and memorable. Plus, they know I’ll be around when they have their next baby.;-)

So how do you stand out? First, find your own style. Don’t go and buy a bunch of actions or copy another photographer’s exact style and processing. I like to think that you can spot my work from a lineup of others because I keep things clean and simple. If you see a photographer using a certain prop, don’t ask them where they got it. Does this sound rude? Sorry, it’s one of our pet peeves. We spend hours searching online and in stores for stuff to make our work unique and different. Do I have things other photographers do? Of course, but I always try to put my own spin on it and recommend everyone else does the same.

I’m inspired by the babies I photograph, colors, textures and un-fussy images and props. I try to do something different at every session but being that I typically shoot 2-3 newborns a week and my clients request certain props I use, it’s not always possible. I’m always buying new things and luckily my studio is located in the antique district of my city so I’m always shopping for more goodies.

Do you think I have a prop/blanket/fabric problem? lol

4. How cool that you’re willing to offer the Q&A to other photogs out there. I’d like to know how you get the right skin-color balance for your newborns. I have to say that I struggle with that. The skin is either too light, red, or too yellow after I add some post processing to it. I seem to not get the creamy tone right.

My first tip is to always do a custom white balance! I always do this and it helps keep the skin tones consistent through the whole session. I use a Photovision Digital Target (ah yes, another company I pimp out unpaid, lol) and set my Custom White Balance in camera.

Once that’s done I can tweak skin tones in ACR by just using the Temperature & Tint sliders. I also go under HSL/Greyscale tab, click on saturation and pull out some orange, this helps take out some of the redness in their skin.

In photoshop I tweak the color in a “selective color” layer and work under neutrals or reds. Make sure your screen is calibrated!

5. Is the baby actually on an “incline” or is it a matter of tilting your camera? I can’t find more drastic examples but I’ve definitely seem some that seem really inclined and I always wonder if it’s a zillion receiving blankets under the backdrop or of it’s just an “obscure” angle while shooting. Or is it rotating it in processing?

I do it in camera! I like to keep my compositions interesting which can be hard when you are shooting a sleeping newborn on a blanket and this is just one way how I like to do it.

6. A question for your FAQ post – where do you find the wood looking floor/backdrop for your studio sessions?

It’s real wood floors, I ordered the wood and my awesome Dad built it for me. the wall piece is anchored on the wall for safety purposes.

7. I saw your post on Facebook about a FAQ blog post and thought I would send you a question. What lens do you use the most or can you not live without when shooting children and families outside?

I shoot all of my newborns on the beanbag with my Canon 50 1.2L, the shots from above or family shots with my Canon 24-70 2.8L, and most of my outdoor work is shot with my Canon 85 1.2L. I could not live without any of those lenses.

8. I have a lot to learn about how to capture photos with the right settings…any books/videos u recommend?? A photographers “Bible” predates? I’ve read a bit but so much to remember…anything easy…cheats? I have Photoshop CS3 and sadly haven’t a clue how to use all the features. Is the beauty of a portrait in taking it or good editing??

This book, Understanding Exposure, was my bible when I first learned how shoot in manual mode. I read it and just practiced every single day. If you have nice light, good exposure and good focus, your images will look amazing! Just remember that practice makes perfect!

9. I seem to have a rough time getting their head to “prop” up enough so that they don’t have a double chin or get lost in their arms.

Just have lots of patience and make sure they are nice and sleepy. Once you pose them gently, just kind of hold them there for a second while they settle into the pose (again, gently). I use rolled up blankets and towels underneath to support them. Never force them into any position and let things naturally flow.

Happy Friday you all, I have lots of exciting things and adorable babies coming in the next week so stay tuned!

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