As a newborn photographer, you’re responsible for capturing some of the earliest moments of your subject’s life. Not only are you being trusted with your client’s baby, but it’s up to you to ensure that his or her earliest photos turn out beautifully. Although natural light is ideal for many styles of photography, we can’t control the weather or even always decide our working hours. This is where a softbox will come in handy.
A softbox is a must-have for newborn photography, and one surefire way to take care of all of the concerns listed above. This extra implement will make your lights easier to use, give your images more clarity, and not to mention keep your newborn subject safe from the flash. Softboxes are easy to use and fun to experiment with.
Softboxes vs. Umbrellas
What’s the difference between a softbox and an umbrella? Should you use one, the other, or both? Umbrellas are more portable, less expensive, and typically faster to set up, but softboxes give you more control over artificial light direction. If you’re very new to photography, you could start with an umbrella and work your way up to a softbox.
While umbrellas are helpful, they spill light more and won’t give you as much contrast as a softbox. What you end up using primarily is more a matter of personal preference, but a good photographer should eventually have both a softbox and an umbrella on hand to use for varying needs. This gives you more versatility.
Lighting Tips for Newborn Photography
One of the biggest things you must do as a photographer is to ensure that you use safe lighting. Newborn babies have very sensitive eyes. They cannot be exposed to any bright or harsh light until they are several months old.
If you have to use a flash, then an external flash will be your best option, but you have to let the light bounce from the ceiling, and the power has to be low enough that it doesn’t wake a sleeping baby or blind them. It is better to try to avoid using a flash if possible.
Ambient light is the best way to go for newborn photo shoots. It is a natural and soft light that mimics sunlight from a nearby window. Constant white studio lights are also a helpful option and won’t cause the baby’s skin to look red and warm.
You also shouldn’t be afraid to use shadows either just make sure to correctly position them. Using shadows can build more of an interest in the photograph, and the shadows are often just as important as the lighting that is used.
If you are looking for more depth and dimension, then shadows can help direct the eye to the main subject of the photo since eyes tend to automatically attract to the lighter portions of a photograph.
Additionally, when using studio lighting with newborns, the light should be coming from where the baby’s head is. The face should be illuminated and then down to their body. This will help avoid any messy shadowing that will detract from the photograph.
One of the best ways to control the lighting you use is with a softbox. It confines the light you are using in a closed chamber and then releases it through a layer of diffusion material. The light that passes through allows for a soft and even result. The closer the softbox is to the newborn you are photographing, the softer the light appears.
Best Softbox for Newborn Photography
Today, we will cover five of the best softboxes on the market for photographing newborns. The goal here is a soft light that will be safe (instead of too bright or startling) for your subject and look great, along with a good amount of contrast. With a quality softbox, you shouldn’t need to do as much editing as you might normally do without one.
- The ESDDI 20X28 Softbox Photography Lighting Kit
- Flash Diffuser Light Softbox 6x5 by Altura Photo
- The StudioFX H9004SB2 2400 Watt Large Photography Softbox
- EMART Softbox Photography Video Studio Equipment Lighting Kit
- CRAPHY Upgraded 20x28 Photography Lighting Kit Auto Pop-Up Softbox
The ESDDI 20″X28″ Softbox Photography Lighting Kit
This lighting kit is easy to get set up and just as easy to pack away when you’re done. If you need to travel to do a shoot last minute, or just tend to do on-location shoots, this is great quality.
The ESDDI Softbox Lighting Kit has a wide height range and a minimum setting, which can be hard to find in other lighting kits. This ESDDI kit comes with professional, long-lasting trichromatic lamps, meant to look like the sun’s natural light. You can get beautiful shots even on a cloudy day or during the dark season. It also has an adjustable lamp holder.
This softbox lighting kit is full-featured, durable, and works for both scene shooting and work in the studio. It comes with all you’ll need for video production, as well. The ESDDI Softbox kit comes with four solid, well-made light stands and will improve your equipment repertoire overall.
Flash Diffuser Light Softbox 6×5” by Altura Photo
This softbox works with Shoe Mount Flash Units and produces even lighting with softer shadows and reduced harshness. The Altura Photo 2 Flash Softbox is collapsible, fits Nikon, Yongnuo, and Canon Speedlights (plus others) and comes with a storage pouch. It comes with a Velcro strap that easily secures around your flash head and also has an additional internal diffuser.
Even when you use it on the lowest power output, this softbox creates soft, beautiful light. This makes it great for not only newborn photography but also wedding reception photos and other needs. The Velcro helps it attach snuggly to your flash head.
The StudioFX H9004SB2 2400 Watt Large Photography Softbox
If you need a continuous photo lighting kit, the StudioFX H9004SB2 Softbox could give you what you need. This three-piece system has an overhead hair light boom softbox and two softboxes and includes all the bulbs needed. Each softbox fits four bulbs, and the system is good for video, product shots, and of course, newborn portraits. You can use this system on its own without any extra implements necessary.
This lighting kit is quick to set up and easy to use, and the lights included work well with DSLR cameras and all types of photography. It comes with background support stands and can be used both in your studio and on-location away from the studio. But keep in mind that it may not be as portable as some other softbox systems since there are four bulbs on each unit.
Use this affordable system with any camera as it’s compatible with Olympus, Sony, Canon, and more. It comes with a case for easier transport and a useful boom stand.
EMART Softbox Photography Video Studio Equipment Lighting Kit
This lighting kit is perfect for newborn lighting, still photography, video studio, portraits, and more. The EMART Softbox Photography Kit is easy to set up and put together. Although it has an affordable price, the materials are of good quality. The light stands are durable and made with nuts and bolts, so you can expect them to hold up for quite some time.
The diffusers in the EMART Softbox kit are both easy to put on and remove from the softboxes and soften the lighting well. In this kit, you’ll get a carry bag, two studio light bulbs, two light stands, and two softbox reflectors that measure 24 by 24 inches. The light stands have a range of 33 to 86 inches and give steady support to the softboxes.
CRAPHY Upgraded 20×28 Photography Lighting Kit
Including another suitable softbox, this kit has been upgraded from the previous version. While the older version required you to take the light bulbs out to close it, this one allows you to fold it up without doing so.
If being able to pack up quickly after a photo session is a high priority in your work, this could be a good option. The CRAPHY Upgraded Lighting Kit system doesn’t need tools or anything extra to work as it’s already complete.
Included in this kit are fluorescent floodlights, for white, cool lighting. They work with any holder that has an E27 socket and are 5500k. The kit also comes with a softbox bulb holder to remove shadows, soften the light, and produce the perfect image.
The bulb holder will also help to reduce hot spots and overexposure. The included light stands are compatible with most photography equipment like backgrounds, softboxes, reflector umbrellas, and more.
This kit is also very portable, which is handy if you have to travel for work. You may place all of the included items in the bag, easily set them up, and then pack them again when you’re done. The CRAPHY Photography lighting kit has an auto pop-up softbox that allows you to use a small handle for putting up or folding it.
The softbox itself removes shadow and creates an ultimate, soft stream of light that won’t be too harsh for newborns’ eyes. It has a silver internal face that maximizes the spread of light and minimizes light loss, creating a beautiful end result.
Check the price of the CRAPHY Lighting Kit on Amazon.
Tips for Photographing Newborns
Now that you have a good idea on what to look for when it comes to choosing a softbox for your newborn photography sessions, we have a few more tips to share with you.
Keep them comfortable. Above all, you want to do what you can to make sure that the baby is comfortable and feeling safe. Typically, newborn subjects are going to be around 2 weeks old or less during the photo session, and it is your job to catch these moments for the family to cherish.
It shouldn’t be too hard to keep them comfortable at this age because babies that young tend to sleep and really not move much. However, keeping them safe so you can capture that perfect shot involves a lot more. For this, many photographers rely on mother placement. This allows the baby to be safely set for the shot. Image stacking is also used during post-processing to come up with the final photo.
Make sure you have confidence. While it can be a bit stressful during a newborn photo shoot, the trick is to stay as confident as possible. This will put the parents at ease; it helps keep the baby calm and allows you to get those shots they will love.
Use the best materials. Lightweight cotton wraps are a go-to during newborn photography sessions because they can be used to swaddle the baby and the baby is already used to them. It allows for a tight covering which still allows for the baby’s shape to come through. Different colors and patterns can also help add some texture to the backdrop you are using.
Mistakes are helpful. Doing something wrong is one of the best ways to teach you how to do it right; remember that when you make mistakes. It is almost like trial and error. You go through a lot to see what works and what doesn’t, and you learn and apply that knowledge for future photo shoots.
Never put too much pressure on yourself because it will definitely work against you. Time and patience are all you need to find that perfect moment.
Overall, a softbox will define your tiny, newborn subject and provide softer, safer light for the baby’s eyes. This will help you create a much better end product for your clients.
When photographing newborns, consider the pose when using studio lighting. You also need to consider the kind of studio lighting that will be best for each photo. Use visual layers in your image and be mindful of the light and shadows because these are the elements that can make or break a photo.