by Kristen Ryan
Have you ever found yourself feeling bored, frustrated or creatively challenged because you have been shooting in the same space of your home time after time, day after day, maybe even month after month? Maybe you’ve been cooped up, or you’ve had lots of rainy days, or perhaps you are like me and have several young kids that could run off in different directions making it unsafe to explore beautiful outdoor locations without assistance. Well, I definitely relate. Over the last number of months as I have been shooting daily, I have frequently challenged myself to come up with new ways to shoot within my home. Along the way I have learned several valuable lessons and taken away many helpful ideas for keeping the creativity and inspiration alive:
1. Watch the natural light in your home and look for light you might not have used before.
Maybe you think you’ve tried it all, but I challenge you to look for light you’ve overlooked or an angle you haven’t tried before.
Remember that the light changes throughout the day. Maybe there is a spot you can use on the weekend at a time you are gone during the week. As the seasons change, so does the light and the length of the days. Work to control the light with curtains, sheers, or blinds.
2. Experiment with light sources other than natural light.
When the sun goes down, don’t forget that there are many alternative light sources you can use creatively to produce amazing images. Light from lamps, iPads, laptops, flashlights, and speedlights are all at your disposal and create light in places where natural light does not exist. Move your light, or your subject, around until you are happy with the result.
3. Exhaust your perspectives.
Get close, frame through a doorway, get as low as you can, try a wide angle perspective, or shoot from above.
4. Get in the frame!
You have a cooperative and willing model at your disposal all of the time. Use yourself to experiment with a new technique, space, light, or just to change up your subject. And when you get in the frame with your kids, you may just see a cooperative and loving side of them show up.
5. Experiment with still life or macro.
These genres allow you to take your time, be creative and experiment with the light and composition until you achieve your desired result. Giving your more challenging subjects a break can re-energize both you and them!
6. Pick a day to focus on close-ups and details.
Focusing in on these details will help keep clutter out of the frame…without having to pick up!!
7. Move some furniture to utilize a space not usually available or to change up the environment.
8. If you have an assortment of lenses pick a lens you don’t usually use (lensbaby, macro, wide angle, etc.) and challenge yourself with just that lens for the day!
9. Capture a real moment!
Genuine emotion and connection is never redundant!
10. Let your child choose what you do for the shoot.
If your subject is truly on board, no doubt you’ll get memorable images you love, regardless of how many times you’ve shot there before! I have taken a zillion images in my master bedroom on my bed. But given the option, my kids will always choose my bed for a shoot because it’s a spot where they relax and have lots of fun.
Kristen Ryan, Illinois
CMU Instructor, CM Mentor
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With her Nikon D800 and several lenses, Kristen Ryan is a natural light photographer specializing in lifestyle, fine art and landscape images. She resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband of 10 years and 4 young kids. Her everyday finds her striving to freeze the moments of her little ones’ childhood in an artistic way. Her love of nature and the outdoors fuel her passion for landscape photography. When not focusing on photography or family, she likes to spend her time with a cup of coffee, reading, running, and cooking. She is also a former professional harpist. Kristen is the instructor of Shooting 108: The World Around You and co-author of The Road Less Traveled: Finding Your Unique Path.