San Jose, CA newborn photographer | San Francisco, CA newborn photographer

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That’s one of the most frequent questions from my clients.

  1. As professionally trained newborn photographer, I use only special baby-friendly equipment which includes – Paul C Buff Einstein Flash Unit + a 86” White PLM Umbrella. This is one of the best practices standard of the newborn photography industry,  that provides very soft, creamy subtle light safe for the baby’s eyes. This is also one of the most expensive solutions.
  2. The main reason we need the studio light is to ensure the controllable light environment for indoors.
  3. Diffusion

The studio flashlight that I use for newborn and baby photography is never directed to the baby. It is placed on the OPPOSITE  side of the baby and hits the silver umbrella. It then bounces back towards the baby passing through a light softening fabric called the diffuser. That reduces intensity 2-3 times.

In general, the diffuser softens the light and gives the photos a dreamy look. This is SO creamy! No other light gave me such a wonderful creamy effect.


  1. Intensity

While it may seem bright, the studio strobe isn’t all that intense.

First of all, I photograph newborn babies ONLY at 1/128th – 1/64th of the light’s power.

After the light leaves the strobe, it falls off dramatically because of the way it spreads out. It begins to lose intensity according to the inverse square law. If a flash seems really intense at a distance of one foot, doubling the distance to two feet means only one quarter as much light hits the subject at any one point.  Double that again to four feet away and the light will have only 1/16th of the intensity it initially had. Move to eight feet away and only 1/64 of the intensity remains.

Plus, standard diffuser reduces intensity 2-3 times. That’s very tiny amount of light reaching the baby’s eyes, the sunny day is way brighter.

If you go outside on a sunny day, the brightness ranges from about 1,000 lumens in the shade to more than 6,000 lumens on a large stretch of concrete, like a highway. Our eyes are comfortable until we get to around 3,500 lumens. Standard 100-watt bulbs produce about 1600 lumens. Paul C Buff is 28 000 lumens at the full power, leaving us with modest 200-500 lumens at 1/128-1/64 power. Plus, distance, plus, diffuser.

  1. Length of Exposure

Several sources stated that you’d have to be staring at the sun for a while, 15 to 30 seconds, before starting to get permanent damage in your eyes.  Long before that, the brightness would be painful enough you’d likely close your eyes anyway.  The journal JAMA Opthamology recently discussed a case where a 12-year-old Florida girl had damaged her retina after staring at the sun for about one minute.

While a flash is bright, it often only lasts a tiny fraction of a second.  Even repeated firings of a flash only sum to a fraction of a second. My strobe duration is super-short – 1/588 – 1/ 13500 second. Twenty flashes of a studio strobe at 1/1000 of a second might only amount to 1/50th of a second total exposure.

Yet, at this moment I’d really re-consider using “affordable newborn photography” vendors, who offer photography with 600-wt constant light at a distance of 3 ft for 3 hrs.

There are scientifical evidence that long exposure to LED light can cause retina degenerative effects.


  1. Not Highly Focused

While studio strobes can be bright, they’re not very focused, even if you put a snood on them. The light spills and bounces in all directions.  The farther the light is from the subject, the more diffuse it is.  When it comes to positioning the light for newborn photography, I never direct the light straight on the baby, it’s always best to angle the light on side of our setup where the baby is posed. Therefore the studio flash never hits the baby’s face or eyes directly.

When you choose the newborn photographer, please make sure you select the trained, licenced and insured specialist. The safety is everything!



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