Atlanta Birth Photographer | Is flash bad for baby eyes?

One of the most common questions that I am asked about my birth photography in Atlanta is whether or not I use a flash. The answer: only if I absolutely have to, and NEVER once baby has been born. I do not use a direct flash. If you don't know what that is, it's basically what you have on your camera that pops up from the top and flashes directly at the subject. As you probably already know, direct flash is blinding and often washes out the photo completely. 

However, during birth I do sometimes use a bounced flash. For example, during a waterbirth in a dark room, I might need to bounce my flash off the ceiling or wall with a diffuser to capture the baby crowning and coming out. It all depends on the lighting conditions of the labor room and the photos that the parents want to have. Some parents don't want crowning shots, some do. A lot of factors come into play when making decisions about how to best capture images in the different stages. Regardless of the lighting conditions, I never have my flash pointed directly at the mother. I can't think of anything worse than trying to concentrate during a contraction and having a bright light flashing in my face randomly with no warning. Part of my job as a birth photographer is to respect the birthing space and be as unobtrusive as possible so the mother can progress well and not feel interrupted or annoyed.

There's no way to predict what the lighting situation will be at a birth since some mothers prefer to labor with the lights turned low, while others want lights. My job as a birth photographer is to work with the existing environment and be flexible. Sometimes the lighting situation will change multiple times during a labor. If I had a dollar for every time a nurse or midwife flipped a light switch on or off during the time I cover a birth... well, I'd be rich!

When the baby is born, my flash is tabled completely. The research states that flash isn't actually harmful to the eyes of newborns, but I just don't think it's necessary to put them through that. I have the experience and the training to photograph the moments after birth without needing to use my flash. Besides, your baby just came from a safe, warm, and dark place. A flash would just be invasive and disturb them. I'd much rather use the other continuous lighting options that I carry with me! 


As you can see from the photo above, I don't need to use flash to get beautiful photos of a minutes old baby! It was actually quite dark in this room, but since I shoot with a full frame camera and am experienced with the best settings for low light environments, I simply made a few quick adjustments and captured baby's measurements in a non invasive way for all present. 

Most babies spend time on their mom's chest after their birth and open their eyes to look around. There are so many sweet moments that can be captured, and the last thing I want to do is upset a brand new baby (or mother!) with a harsh flash that disturbs them or makes them cry. They've already had a tough journey to earth side! 


Another major reason that I don't use flash after the baby is born is illustrated in my image below. 


This little one opened their eyes and spent time looking around and taking in their environment. I wouldn't have been able to get photos of this baby with their eyes open without causing them to squint or just refuse to open their eyes to avoid the flash entirely. 

I hope this has answered any questions you may have had regarding my use of flash in birth photography! If you live in the Atlanta area and are looking for a birth photographer, I would love to chat more with you about my services. 

If you are considering reserving The Birth Session, contact me right away. I meet with all interested couples in my studio for a no obligation consultation for about an hour. Fill out this form here to get started. Birth photography is a personal experience and an investment: be confident in your choice! 

Lily Sophia Photography specializes in newborn, baby, maternity, and birth photography in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding areas.