You often write to me with questions about photography and editing. I’m always surprised because I still have so much to learn and don’t feel particularly qualified to give advice. But if my modest experience can be of any use to anyone, I’ll be very happy to share it with you (you can tell I’m a teacher, right?).
In this article, I’m going to start with a few tips on how to take pictures indoors, in your home. It’s the place where we spend most of our time (unless you’re an outdoors person), where we feel the most comfortable and where we can take the most natural pictures of our kids. Our home is part of our history and, as the years go by, we may have moved places or changed the decoration, so having memories of a particular moment in time is precious.
Often, we don’t take pictures at home because we think it’s too small, never tidy enough, not pretty enough, too dark… But the truth is that none of these reasons are good enough not to use the camera.
So here are the things I can think of to encourage you to take photos at home.
Let’s be honest. The better the camera, the better the pictures. Even so, any camera, if used properly, can do a lot. You only have to look at the photographic quality of cell phones. The camera can be very helpful to adjust to the light you have at home. I recommend you test yours to see when the photos start having noise. Raise the ISO as much as necessary so that the photo is well exposed and stop when it starts to get too grainy. I use a Nikon D750, although I still have a D5300 and the quality is not bad at all.
It is important to choose the right lense when taking photos in small spaces. For example, if you have a 50 mm one and you are very close to the person you’re photographing, your depth of field will be too narrow.
Lenses are complicated stuff. Depending on whether you have a full frame camera or not, the values are not the same. I recommend a wide-angle lens for indoor photos. I often use the Sigma Art 35 1.4 (very, very luminous) and the Nikon 24-70 2.8 (so versatile), but you could also use a 20mm one, for example.
The lower the aperture (1.4, 2.8…), the easier it will be to lighten the scene. But be careful, because the lower it is, the more difficult it will be to have all your models in focus, especially if there are several of them.
I know it’s impossible to have a perfectly tidied house with kids, but you can take advantage of the cleaning day to take some pictures. That’s what I do. In fact, photography helps me keep the house tidier. You can also focus on one room only, even if the rest of the house is unshootable. That’s the great thing about photography, you can’t see everything.
You know I don’t like posed photos at all, especially when it comes to documenting family life. That’s why I never have them pose for me.
What I do is put my children where I would like to take pictures of them. The best thing is to do is to take some toys or books to the place where you want to run the session, sit down with them so that they start playing and, once they’re engaged in the game, I get up and grab the camera.
– On the bed, when it’s nicely made. I like to photograph the kids jumping on the bed (but watch out for your speed settings), reading a book, with their night light, their favorite cuddly toys, etc.
– Next to a window: from the side, backlit, from above, from outside if you have a balcony overlooking that window, when a sunbeam comes in…
– In the kitchen or the dining room, while eating, drawing…
– In the corridor, running or with the scooter, the tricycle…
– In the bathtub splashing, making soap bubbles, with their hair full of foam… Be careful, though, because if the idea is to post the picture on Instagram, you’ll get banned if there are nipples around. No comment…
– With dad or you using a tripod. Shooting a self-portrait requires even more energy, but it’s really worth it. If you don’t have a tripod, you can put the camera on a piece of furniture and use the self-timer. If you have a camera with wifi, you can control the shot directly from your mobile phone and it’s much easier because you see the scene on the mobile screen and can even tell the camera the point of focus directly from your mobile.
– In the garage or any room with a small source of light. The photos look spectacular because everything is dark except your model, if you place him or her near the light source.
I’l be writing a separate post about editing to keep this one short. Just remember this: don’t despair if the photos appear too dark on camera. While editing, you can increase the exposure, shadows, etc. to brighten the photo. While backlighting, you can either leave your models dark or light them up with masks (Lightroom).
I hope you find this post useful. If so, let me know and I’ll keep on publishing articles on similar topics. And if you know anyone who might be interested, feel free to share this post!