Studio vs. Natural Lighting Photography [Infographic]
Is studio lighting or natural lighting better? This is a question often asked, but the answer depends on the person asking. If photographers are asking the question, studio lighting provides many advantages such as a controlled environment and no need to check the weather forecast. For others, getting a grip on natural lighting negates the need to purchase expensive lighting equipment. In other words, when comes to studio versus natural lighting photography, the answer often lies in the aspirations of the beholder. However, when it comes to newborn and baby photography, the question needs to be considered on their behalf. (Infographic included below.)
The Studio versus Natural Lighting Debate
Using both studio and natural lighting over the past decade, I’ve been able to maximise the benefits of both. However, in my opinion, there’s only one winner when it comes to capturing baby or newborn photographs. Yes, I need to keep an eye on the weather forecast—especially since I live in four-seasons-in-a-day Melbourne. And yes, I’m grateful that my home-based studio affords plenty of natural light. Even so, not only does natural lighting allow me to capture images that are more authentic and more grounded; natural lighting is easier on the little bundles of joy that I photograph.
The unnatural presence of studio lighting, and the stark flash and sound of lights snapping can often overwhelm the baby or newborn (and sometimes their parents too). Yes, even if done very well. While a six-year-old may be inclined to enjoy a dress up and enjoy the novelty of studio lights, newborns and babies don’t. So, to answer the question of studio versus natural lighting, the answer is best decided by both the mind’s eye of the beholder and considering the subject beheld.
The Outdoor versus Indoor Photography Debate
What about outdoor versus indoor? Allow me to be ridiculous to make a point. A landscape photographer’s aspiration and needs will never be fulfilled crammed into a studio. He needs a backpack, a map book and the great open doors. In the same way, the ambition of a portrait photographer will determine whether an outdoor or a studio-based setting is warranted. The photographer’s choice of location must match his or her anticipated goal.
What’s more, the need of the client will have a large say in the issue. It goes without saying that the Grand Canyon will make for stunning landscape photography, but will pose more than a few challenges to a newborn shoot. Can you imagine the logistics involved? I shudder. Still, another ludicrous example serves to illustrate the point so well.
Personally, on this issue of outdoor versus indoor photography, I prefer using the outdoors for a maternity session, while my home-based studio is the perfect location for a newborn shoot. While I’ll cater to a pregnant Mum’s preference for the indoors to capture her maternity photos, photographing a newborn in the outdoors is, in my opinion, not a smart idea. And would require a great deal of smarts to keep safety a core consideration.
The control afforded and the safety and serenity provided by a custom-designed studio to achieve the best images for newborns and babies makes the outdoor versus indoor photography debate a no-brainer. And if you really want your newborn doing the froggie-pose on a mountain peak, that’s what Photoshop is for!
Here’s a quick contrast between the two, highlighting the pros for each.
What is your take on outdoor versus indoor photography?