Is My Home Too Dark For Newborn Photos? (And Other Concerns)



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I'm Marjorie


I work with parents who want relaxed and unposed photos, providing them with images that capture the joyful and unscripted moments in life.

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Are you considering having an in-home photo session but are worried that your home might be too dark for newborn photos? Or too small… messy… or generally not photogenic? Though these are valid concerns, the conditions would have to be pretty extreme for you to completely rule out an in-home newborn photoshoot.

Here’s why a dark/small/messy space shouldn’t stop you and how photographers work around these challenges to deliver beautiful images in various conditions. All featured photos were taken in a room with a single window to show what can be accomplished in darker or smaller spaces.

What If My Home Is Too Dark For Newborn Photos?

The first key thing to understand is that most lifestyle and documentary newborn photographers will exclusively use natural light for their photos. For in-home photoshoots, that translates to window light. This means your photographer will have you turn off all your lights during the session. That may make the rooms seem dark to you, (unless you are surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows!) But don’t worry, there are several work-arounds for darker rooms.

Solutions for Dark Spaces

Here are a few tactics photographers use to make the most out of window light. Notice how none of these photos feel too dark, though they were mostly taken in rooms with a single window.

Positioning You Closer to A Window

By moving the subjects closer to a window, not only does the natural light reach everyone, but it creates beautiful and flattering directional light, which works great for portraits.

Photo examples for parents who are wondering if their home is too dark for newborn photos.

Using the Window As Backlight

Backlight simply means that the main lighting source is behind the subject. This can create a softer look where the subjects are outlined by the light coming from behind them.

Photo collage of newborn photos that are backlit.

Photographing In A Different Room

As a client, be prepared to move into a different room. Though you may have a beautifully decorated nursery that you want to show off in your photos, if your master bedroom is getting much better light, that’s where you photographer might want to take some portraits. It doesn’t mean the nursery won’t get featured, but simply that certain kinds of photos might work better in a different room.

Overhead of newborn baby girl in green romper looking into camera.

Cameras with Low Light Capability

When new camera models are released, you can count on one of the improvements being low light capability. Camera manufacturers are constantly working to improve a camera’s sensitivity to light, so it requires less light to create a properly exposed image.

Overhead crib shot of newborn baby girl with milestone blocks.

Embrace A More Moody Look

Though this might not work for photographers who have more of a light and airy aesthetic, it’s a viable option for clients who are open to images that have more contrast. More contrast can translate to more emotional depth and intrigue in a photo.

Moody images from a newborn photo session and family photo session by photographer Marjorie Cohen.

Lighting Equipment

Though this is less common, some photographers use supplemental lights, such as off-camera flash, to introduce more light into a dark environment and create images with less contrast.

As a client, you don’t have to understand all the ins and outs of how any technical problems are going to be addressed by your photographer. It’s simply important for you to understand that your home is probably not too dark for newborn photos, as far as a professional photographer is concerned.

A crucial part of a photographer’s skillset is to be able to walk into different environments and make beautiful images regardless of the lighting conditions.

Here are some examples of behind-the-scenes images and the final photos created in those spaces–

What If My Home Is Too Small?

Small spaces are not necessarily a problem. Though the environment will affect the composition in your images, this will not stop you from getting beautiful in-home newborn photos.

There are simple adjustments your photographer can make, such as changing lenses or positions, that will accomodate for smaller spaces.

Another option is to take photos from outside the room, which can create a sense of privacy and connection in your photos, or simply choosing a different room to photograph in.

Newborn photo collage.

What If My Home Is Too Messy?

There are so many advantages to taking newborn photos at home… But yes, you might have to do some tidying up before your session. This should not be a source of stress as there is a way to selectively clean up without driving yourself crazy! Check out my article on how to prepare your home for a newborn sessions without losing your mind.

In reality, a newborn session will only take place in a couple of rooms in your home. Typically, those tend to be the nursery and the master bedroom. Sometimes, other areas work well for lighting purposes, such as the living room, kitchen, or stairway. So those might be options given to you by your photographer.

I would suggest spending no more than 30 minutes tidying up, and focus on putting away adult belongings over baby items – put away laptops, computer cables, cell phone chargers, dirty socks, etc.

You can always clean up as you go and move things just outside of the frame so it doesn’t show up in the photographs.

What If My Home Isn’t Photogenic?

Though your home decor can enhance your photos with texture and your personality – wall art, wallpaper, furniture, rugs, etc – remember that the focus of your photos is you! The people!

An experienced photographer will make the decision to include or exclude elements depending on whether they will enhance your photos or detract from them.

Yes, having a nice backdrop is helpful, but not having magazine-worthy interior design should not keep you from getting in-home newborn photos. Hopefully your priority is to capture the love and connection between you and your baby. Let the photographer worry about the background.

Two newborn photos with beautiful home decor in the background.

Is it Worth Getting In-Home Newborn Photos?

Though no environment is going to be 100% perfect, I would make a strong argument that no matter the lighting conditions or size of your home, you will never regret the decision to get in-home newborn photos.

Even if you are worried your home is too dark for newborn photos, it’s still worth reaching out to a photographer you’d like to work with. I’m betting their answer will be that your home will work just fine!

Grab My FREE Guide: The Newborn Photography Checklist for Parents

If you’re now convinced that your home is more than enough for beautiful newborn photos and you’re wondering about the next step — Grab my FREE pdf guide: The Newborn Photography Checklist For Parents.

This guide will walk you through the process from start to finish!

Free guide: The Newborn Photography Checklist for Parents

Is my Home Too Dark For Newborn Photos?

Marjorie Cohen is a Los Angeles Newborn Photographer offering at-home documentary sessions to families in LA County. Marjorie works with parents who want relaxed and natural photos with their newborn. Follow along in Instagram for her latest work!


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