“Studio” Lighting on a Budget – Erin’s Maternity Shoot

Hello All.

Well, it’s a brand new year and time to start blogging again! This year I’ve decided to start blogging more info about my photos/photo sessions.

In my relatively short time as a photographer I’ve done quite a bit of free work…. probably more than is really wise from a business standpoint. However, I couldn’t resist offering to do a gift session for my bestest best friend Erin! Erin is such a wonderful friend and a great Mom who is not only raising her own 2.5 year old with baby on the way, but also the special kind of lady that has a big heart for two exceptional foster children.

I really wanted to bless her for her baby shower gift, and help her get excited for Baby Isabella to arrive. However, being an unemployed student meant that I couldn’t afford even the meager amount required to rent studio space and equipment from a couple of awesome photographer friends! (I hope you can forgive me, Jennifer Arterbury Photography and JMK Photography!)

I decided to use what I have to do the session at my own house, and I’m excited to share the results!

Equipment used:

  • Nikon D60 camera body
  • Nikon 50mm 1.4 prime lens
  • Nikon SB700 speed light
  • 6′ x 14′ black background cloth
  • 110 cm round reflector (white diffuser interior panel)
  • sturdy thread
  • sewing needle
  • ceiling hook (screw in kind)
  • Jane Austen’s complete works
  • window

Lighting SetupSeen below: Detailed Lighting Setup. I suspended the diffuser/reflector to the ceiling via needle and thread. Jane Austen helped me to prop the reflector at the proper angle for flattering light. You’ll also notice Sheep posing for lighting test.

Lighting Setup DetailFor the first part of the session, Erin’s first child, Ariahna, would be a feature. Since I would need more light and a faster shutter speed for this, I used my SB700 speedlight and bounced the flash off of the reflector and the ceiling.  These were shot with ISO 400, f 5.6 at 1/60. (Normally I would make sure that my shutter speed is at least 1/160 for small children since they move so quickly, but Ariahna is very good and easy to shoot!)

After it was a wrap with Ari, I wanted to do some portraits of just Erin with an elegant feel and highlighting the profile of her pregnant body. I turned off my speed light and relied solely on the diffused light from the window. Maternity Collage with Window LightFor these I left the ISO at 400 and the shutter speed at 1/60 and took down my aperture to 2.2 to let in more light. This made the shadows nice and dark with sufficient detail on her highlight. Minor tonal/clarity adjustments made in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

In the end, I was thrilled to see that I could achieve studio type results with the equipment I already possessed. And on top of it all I got to bless a good friend. Thanks Erin, for always being a willing model for me ;).


9 thoughts on ““Studio” Lighting on a Budget – Erin’s Maternity Shoot

  1. They are my favorite maternity pics! Not just because it’s of me and Ari, but if I saw them online to get an idea of what I wanted my maternity pics to look like….I’d choose these! 🙂 THANKS SO MUCH for this wonderful gift. I can’t wait to HIRE you next time! 🙂 Love ya!

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