What Lighting Is Best For Newborn Photography

Last Updated on March 21, 2021

Getting the best lighting for newborn photography will assure your baby pictures capture those precious early moments.

In this article you will learn what techniques are best for achieving great photography lighting.

Best Newborn Photography Studio Lighting Techniques

Rembrandt Lighting

close up of baby's eyes

Setting up rembrandt lighting is simple and helps create great infant image quality. Set your lighting at a 90 degree angle from your baby’s face with a reflector bouncing the light from the opposite side of the light source with your baby in between.

This setup is great for taking overhead shots but also works for eye level perspective. Feel free to adjust the light source and reflector to capture the perfect lighting.

Read here for more on how to use a photography reflector.

Back Lighting

baby sleeping swaddled

Back light setups require your lighting to be directly behind your baby while shooting from across the light source. Using backlighting creates a lovely soft illumination. It is perfect for creating details show such as fingers, lips and toes.

Soft Lighting

baby in father's arms

Setting up for soft lighting effect requires the use of an external light source and a photography umbrella. The umbrella is used to reflect your light and is placed behind your baby. The light source is placed between you and your baby at an angle which is reflected back on your baby by the umbrella. This lighting setup allows for soft and beautiful lighting perfect for closeups and full body images.

Broad Lighting

black and white photo of baby

Broad lighting creates a dynamic effect that illuminates one side of your baby’s face while allowing soft shadows on the other side of their face. You will need an external light and a reflector. Place the reflector to the side of your newborn and the light source between you and your baby. Adjust the angle of the light to get the perfect effect. I find a translucent reflector works best for this setup.

Short Lighting

mother holding baby

Short lighting allows you to create great light contrast in your image. A large portion of your baby will be in soft shadows with a small focal point being brighter. This is best accomplished by posing your infant with their head turned away from the light. You will place a reflector to the side of your baby at a 90 degree angle with an external light source on the opposite side of the reflector with your baby between. You will stand directly back from your baby to shoot your photos.

Home Newborn Photography Lighting

The previous baby photography lighting techniques are not always possible for parents taking images at home. But no worries, you can still get great lighting at home that will help you take amazing pictures of your baby.

Use The Sun

baby looking at dog

While studio lighting utilizes external flashes, strobes or speedlights, in home newborn photography calls for natural lighting to create beautiful images.

Natural lighting from a large window will create the perfect lighting setup so find the place in your home with the best natural lighting. Keep in mind what rooms provide the best light at a particular time of day and shoot in that room at the appropriate times.

Use Rooms With Neutral Colors

baby sitting on bed

The interior colors of the room you photograph in will also effect your lighting. It is best to go with a room of neutral color and avoid bright or vivid colors. Bright colored walls can reflect light in an unflattering manner.

The most desirable colors are white, tan and beige. These background colors will also make it easier if you plan to do post photography editing.

Check out this article for more newborn photography tips for parents

Pose Your Baby Near A Window

baby holding guitar

Once you know which room offers the best natural lighting you are ready to pose your baby for the best lighting possible. To do so, place your newborn near the window. If the light appears too harsh you can use a light diffuser to soften the light. If you do not already have a diffuser you can use a white sheet or other piece of fabric to soften the light coming from the window.

Use A Reflector For Better Lighting

mother holding baby's feet

Most parents will not have a lot of fancy photography gear. But a reflector can greatly improve your lighting setup and is a relatively low cost investment. For this reason I recommend parents grab one before taking newborn photos at home. By simply placing your reflector opposite of your light source you can bounce soft flattering light onto your baby. This will improve your image quality with very little effort.

Experiment With Your Perspective

baby sleeping in chair

One of the best ways to take advantage of your natural lighting is by shooting your images from different angles and perspectives. You can find great lighting without a lot of equipment while also capturing interesting images that will standout from the standard poses most parents capture. While photographing your infant move around, get low to the ground and even stand up on objects to get unusual and interesting perspectives.

Understand Your Camera and Lens Settings

The best lighting setup in the world will not help you if you do not have your camera and lens settings correct for the environment. You will need to have your exposure settings adjusted properly, which includes shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance. Read this article for the proper settings for newborn photography.

Newborn Photography Lighting Tips and Tricks

Once you have the basics down it is time to try some tips and tricks to take your baby photography to the next level.

Photo Editing and Color Correction for Great Images

father helping daughter walk

Using Lightroom will allow you to make your images really pop. It is easy to remove all lighting issues and to bring out the natural beauty of your baby’s skin and features. Photoshop can also be used to eliminate any blemishes making your photos truly timeless.

Be Creative With Your Light For More Interesting Images

baby grasping mother's finger

While the basics outlined above will help you create awesome baby pictures, getting creative with your lighting can help you capture some truly remarkable images. To do this pay close attention while shooting your pictures and make subtle adjustments to your lighting as you go. Take note of how the lighting changes and which positions create the most visually interesting pictures.

Position Light From The Best Angle

baby in knit hat sleeping

When using studio lighting for your newborn photography it is important to get the right angle when setting up your lighting. It is best to position your light source so it is pointing from the baby’s head down toward their chin. Pose your newborn so their face is tilted toward the side with the light. This will help you avoid any harsh and unflattering shadows.

Pose Your Baby For Success

baby sleeping in bucket with blanket

If your baby is not posed well no amount of lighting will make your images stand out. The most flattering poses for babies are when they are in a curved or C shape position. This type of pose is the most pleasing to the eye as babies who are posed with straight legs look stretched and awkward. The curved pose should be natural and not forced.

Create Layers In Your Pictures With Lighting

baby feet close up

Creating visual layers will make your photos interesting and dynamic. You can do this by positioning meaningful objects in the foreground of your scene. Then set less meaningful objects further away in the background of the image. Position your light to make the meaningful objects more prominent and you will get a lovely and interesting baby photo.


Great newborn photography lighting can be achieved in the studio or the home. With the proper equipment, natural light, and posing your baby’s images will be perfect. Take some time to familiarize yourself with how to position your baby and lighting before taking any pictures and you will be very pleased with your results.

For more newborn photography tips and guides check out these articles