Light modifiers for newborn photography

Your options may seem overwhelming when you have to choose light modifiers for newborn photography, and you may not know where to start when deciding what to buy. And how do you even use these softboxes and umbrellas?

If you’ve been confused about your light modifier options for your newborn studios, this quick tutorial will go over your choices, and what the main differences are between them. This will allow you to narrow down your options based on your personal artistic preferences.

The lowdown on light modifiers for newborn photography:

When I first heard the word modifier in reference to studio lightning … in all seriousness, my eyes glazed over! I was already confused about what it was and what I should even be looking for!

The goal: soft lighting

When it comes to newborn photography soft lighting is the goal. That dreamy soft light that looks darn well near perfect straight out of camera.

soft light on newborn baby

But when you’re getting started with studio lights, the lingo when it comes to gear can sound pretty intimidating.

A modifier is simply the umbrella or softbox that will soften the light from your continuous or strobe light.

Having a big soft box or a big parabolic light modifier (which is a big ole fancy word for an umbrella!) will give you the result of soft, even light.

PLM umbrella and softbox shows as light modifiers for newborn photography
PLM (umbrella) on the left, and softbox on the right

Bigger is better!

Well, bigger is better for newborn photography where you want the light to be soft and mimic natural light. The bigger the light modifier, the more it will spill around the room with soft, even light, which is very forgiving.

Small soft boxes won’t give the same spill of soft light. Their lighting is directional and more suited for dramatic lighting like fashion photography.

showing size of two light modifiers
Choose the biggest modifier that will fit in your studio

Modifier shape = Catchlights shape

Catchlights are the little blocks of light that show up in your subject’s eyes. It is essential for making sure your subject looks bright and alive!

You can read all about this in our post about catchlights and why they matter!

A square modifier, like many softboxes are, will give you square catchlights, similar to a window. An umbrella will give you round catchlights.

There isn’t a right or wrong here, it’s all personal preference.

round catchlights
Round catchlights from an umbrella

I know how hard it is to struggle with studio lighting and how confusing and frustrating it can be – so we’ve developed the Studio Lighting for Newborns course, a step-by-step guide that will hold your hand through discovering they beauty and ease of studio lighting. Check it out!

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Lisa DiGeso

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Lisa DiGeso

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I’m on a mission to create uplifting online experiences for photographers ready to elevate their art, their business and their mindset.(...and have fun along the way!)

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