Tip Tuesday : Shooting indoors with natural light

I’m so excited to be starting this weekly tip installment on my blog. Every Tuesday I will be sharing a simple little tip here on the blog. The tips won’t always be technical or camera related (some tips might be tips for a bride on the wedding day, or tips on what to wear for family portraits, etc.), but they will always tie into photography in some way. Ready? Here we go!

Today’s Tip: Finding the light indoors. Light is essentially what makes or breaks a photograph. In today’s world it’s feasible that you can save just about any photograph with enough post production work, but what a pain that can be! Your goal should be to get in right in the camera. Even if you don’t yet understand all the gears and functions of your camera, if you start with good light you have a good chance of producing a beautiful image.

When shooting indoors, finding good light can often be tricky, but not impossible! Windows and doors are the best spots. The following images were all shot indoors using only natural, available light:

In both my old house (fairly small bedroom) and my new house (larger bedroom) I had/have at least one window in my room that lets in a good amount of light. Because of this, my bed is one of my favorite places to photograph my kids. I use only white sheets for my bed which are actually great for photos because white is bright, reflects light well, and makes for a clean background.

This first image is shot in my old house. The window is off to the right and is actually south-facing, so don’t think you just have to have north-facing windows.

This image was shot in my current house. The window is much larger than in my old house, but I think they both produced good results. In this shot the window is behind me so my daughter’s face is directly facing the light source.

In my kitchen I have three large window doors that lead to the backyard. The highchair normally faces into the kitchen (away from the window) when my kids are eating. If I just left her this way and took her picture, this would be the result:

Now see the result when I turned her highchair around to face the window. Her face is lit, she has catchlights in her eyes and the image comes to life!

Here’s a shot of my other daughter two years later. Once again, I just turned the highchair to face the windows.

If you live in a house with tiny windows, another great option is the front door. For this next series, I just put my daughter right in front of the open front door and I sat on the porch while I photographed.

I use these same principles when shooting professionally as well. This newborn was photographed in my kitchen in front of the those same door/windows. I just moved my dining table and chairs out of the way.

And just to show you it doesn’t just work in my home, here is a shot from the home of a client. We shot this newborn in the master bedroom on the bed. The mom had originally told me about her door/windows in her kitchen that were similar to mine. But when I arrived the sun was shining full force into those windows.* I looked around and found that a window in her bedroom produced a good amount of light. We opened the curtains, and did the entire shoot there on her bed and bedroom floor. Here’s a shot from that session:

Here’s one last example from an engagement session. I was photographing this couple around an apartment/restaurant/parking structure, but the wind was crazy! We stepped into the lobby of the apartment building to escape the wind for a minute, and I noticed the great light coming in through the glass front doors. Here’s the result (doors are on the right):

Okay, that’s it for today. Hopefully that was helpful! Leave a comment to let me know what other tips you’d like me to share. Thanks!

*Avoid using windows and doors as light sources when the sun is shining full force through them. Wait until the sun is more overhead and your light will be much more soft and pleasing.

  1. Jenn

    April 3rd, 2013 at 2:48 am

    I LOVE the new tips idea! I really enjoy looking at your blog because I LOVE your photos. You took wedding pics of my brother and his wife, and I’ve drooling over your pics ever since.
    I’m pretty new to photography, and have no desire to do it professionally–more as a hobby and to take beautiful pics of my family. One of my biggest problems with shooting indoors–especially in the evening or where there are no windows is overwhelming flash, or not enough light to keep the pictures from being blurry or yellow without a flash. Any suggestions?
    I’m really excited about your tips! I love your style and simplicity. I could go on and on about how much I love your photography….

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