Strobe vs Continuous Lighting for Newborn Photography

Strobe vs continuous lighting … is one better than the other for newborn photography? What are the differences between the two forms of studio lighting anyway?

While this topic can get really complicated, Lisa breaks it down quickly and simply. Many newborn photographers have described the change to studio lighting as life-changing, and deciding whether to use strobe or continuous lighting will be the first decision you have to make.

Strobe vs Continuous Lighting – prefer to read?

The differences between continuous lights and strobe lights are not really as complicated as you might think!

Modifiers

The difference between a strobe and continuous light

A strobe light is actually a flash. You have a trigger on your camera and a receiver on the light and this just is a way for the camera and the light to talk to each other. When you press your shutter, it’s going to cause the flash to fire and this is going to freeze the motion so you’re able to take the picture.

Studio with beanbag, light, modifier stand and trigger
This strobe light will flash only when fired

In comparison, a continuous light system means the light is always on. You see the same light you will see in your final image.

Continuous light
A Continuous light is always on

Why do you even need studio lighting?

You may be a little confused about whether to get a continuous or a strobe light. Both are fantastic light systems, and to be completely honest, I use them both! I love the versatility of having studio lights. I use them primarily in my newborn sessions – the beauty of it is that I can really shoot at any time of day that i want to. I live in Canada, where it is dark in the winters! This means I used to only be able to shoot at ISO 1200 between 10:00 and 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon in December, and that really sucked. It really limited me in the number of clients that I could book and what I could do and when I could have my sessions.

natural light baby
Natural light is great … but only when it’s not dark or gloomy outside!

When I delved into the world of studio lighting, it opened up a whole different availability for me. I was able to shoot in the evenings (when may be the only time clients were available) and it just gave me so much more of my life back because I had that versatility.

With a continuous light, you’re going to have the same versatility. It’s a light that’s always going to be on. There are different power settings, but I tend to use mine on a higher power as it gives that look that I like. But the real difference between the continuous and the strobe is that the continuous is always on – it’s literally like having a window light.

The modeling light

Now what can be super confusing is when you see a video of someone using a strobe, and it seems like there is a light on all the time as well. What you’re seeing is actually the modeling light which is always on. The modeling light is just a low power light on a strobe that allows you to see what you’re doing, and allows your camera to have enough light to focus, but it isn’t the actual flash. It turns off automatically as the strobe fires.

The modeling light on a strobe is just there so you can see what you’re doing

But which is better? Strobe or continuous?

When choosing between continuous and strobe lighting, there are a few reasons that I choose the continuous over a strobe sometimes and a strobe over a continuous at other times.

The case for continuous…

One case for continuous is that a baby can startle because of the flash firing on a strobe, so if you have a real jittery baby, sometimes using a continuous light can be a better option.

Also, when I’m doing cake smashes or I’m doing images with older children who are sometimes really timid and shy, or with older children doing a sibling shot with my newborns, I tend to gravitate toward the continuous because they’re not getting that pop of light, which often causes them to look at the light and to stop paying attention to me.

siblings in studio
Older children are easily distracted by strobe flashes so continuous lighting can keep their attention focused on the photographer.

In most other cases, I use the strobe because of its capacity to freeze motion for any of my fast-moving clients! If you shoot newborns, but also families and toddlers, and require more precise control over your light, then a strobe will be more versatile.

busy toddlers in crib
A strobe allows you to freeze the action for those busy toddlers!

If you haven’t already downloaded our handy dandy getting started Gear Guide, you are gonna want to get yourself a copy of that! We go over all the different options when it comes to continuous and studio lighting to help you on your way with your studio lights.

Click here to download your copy!

share the love

[Sassy_Social_Share]

related

Posts

divider

A Passion for Pet Portraits: Making Furry Friend Photography a Profitable Business with Nicole Begley

Contracts, Copyrights, and Copycats: The Must-Do Legal Tasks for Your Photography Business with Kiffanie Stahle

Marketing Mindset Makeover: Why It’s Time for Photographers to Rethink Their Marketing Strategies with Carolina Guzik

The Profitable Photographer: Pricing for Profit in Your Photography Business with Jamie Devlin

The Procrastinating Robot with Lisa DiGeso: Strategies to Deal with Overwhelm & Procrastination

Picture Perfect Productivity: Strategies for Streamlining Your Photography Business with Brittnie Renee

Countdown to Success: Using The Rocketship Blueprint to Propel Your Photography Business Forward with Senior Photographer Sean Brown

Focus on Inclusion: Empathy and Advocacy in Neurodivergent Family Photography with Stacey Feasel

Learning Curves: How Maintaining a Lifetime Learner Mindset Can Help You Master Your Fine Art Maternity with Esther Kay

A Kid at Heart: The Art & Business of Preschool Photography with Trina Julius

The Business of Being Yourself: How Embracing Your Uniqueness Unlocks Your Creativity & Helps You Stand Out in the Newborn Niche With Natasha Simpson

Better Together: How Hiring a Team of Associates Can Help You Grow Your Photography Business With Jill Smith

From Scrubs to Shutter: Balancing Nursing, Photography, and Passion with Shannon McTighe

The Wild Side: Embracing the Beautiful Mess, and Capturing Authentic Connection with Tiffany Crenshaw from Animal House Photography

Golden Moments: Elevating  & Nurturing Client Relationships with Maternity and Newborn Photographer Kellie Golden

The Heart of Photography: Josie Tan’s Approach to Client Connections & Building Relationships in Your Photography Business

Advice From the Pros: Lessons and Reflections From 16 Photographers on What They Wish They Knew as Beginners

Giving Up the Ghost: Releasing the Stories Holding You Back in Your Photography Business.

Practicing Presence: The Healing Power of Slowing Down & Tuning into Mindfulness & Creativity in Photography with Joy Prouty

Inkpot Insights: Crafting Web Magic for your photography business with KP and Jessie from Inkpot Creative

Creating or Consuming: Education as More Than Entertainment, Taking Intentional Action Towards Your Creative Goals

The Art of Elegance: Elevating Your Photography Business Through Client-Centric Strategies with Kayleigh Ashworth

Making Maternity Magic: Empowering Women, Staying Profitable, and Nurturing Creativity in Photography with Karli Braaten

Guiding Stars: 6 Truths from 14 Years in Business & Photography with Lisa DiGeso