I get a lot of messages from new photographers asking me about what camera settings I use in my sessions. To save time answering people individually, I thought the best thing to do would be to do a blog post! I always shoot in manual mode. I’m a bit of a control freak (haha!) and prefer to tell my camera what to do rather than have it think for itself. Here is a run down on the different settings I use in most of my photography sessions: Aperture / f-stop
When I choose my camera settings, I typically think in apertures. Depth of field is the main thing that I’m thinking about – and the most important thing that I’m needing to modify for my sessions. Because my sessions take place in a studio with a continuous light, and my subjects aren’t running around etc, for me depth of field is the most important thing.
Baby on their own When I’m photographing baby on their own I like to shoot quite wide open to make the focus all about the baby and blurring the background (aka shallow depth of field). To achieve this look I select an aperture of around f/2 to f/2.5. Of course when you’re shooting with such a small area in focus you really need to be on your game with your focusing!
Baby with a sibling / Parent shots When photographing a baby with a sibling or one other person on roughly the same plane of focus (e.g. both laying down on a rug) you should increase your depth of field slightly to ensure that both subjects are in focus. In these cases I change my aperture to about f/4.
Family shots For family shots (e.g. both parents, perhaps a sibling and baby) you will need to select a narrower aperture (higher f/stop number) to ensure that all the subjects are in focus. I typically shoot family images at about f/5.6 or sometimes up to f/8 depending on how many people are in the photo and whether they are on a similar plane of focus or not.
ISO, Shutter Speed & White Balance
The rest of my camera settings tend to stay consistent except where I adjust my aperture and need to adjust either my ISO or my shutter speed for a correct exposure. Usually I leave my shutter speed and adjust my ISO. ISO – I use continuous lights and a PLM (parabolic light modifier) for my baby photos. I set my ISO at around 400 and adjust this where necessary to compensate for changes to my aperture. Shutter Speed – I usually set and forget my shutter speed. I set it at around 250th/sec to make sure that I don’t get any motion blur. White Balance – I set my own custom white balance from a grey card. Of course these settings will change depending on your own studio and lighting environment as well as what it is you’re wanting to achieve in your photos. Happy photographing! Amy x