Some people walk into a room and see decor, art or colour.

Not me.

I see light and framing. If my camera is in hand, as soon as I enter a room my eyes instantly dart around to find what I can use to help me compose my image – windows, doorways, walls, shadows, furniture.

Part of the reason I love shooting indoors is the way a home can infuse itself into an image. I don’t believe in allowing a home to simply serve as a background; I force it to be a silent participant in the photo session. There are so many options when it comes to framing within an image, but here are a few of my favourite ways to frame your subject indoors.

1. Doorways

Doorways are by far my favourite. Depending on how you position yourself, you can create a completely different mood for the image.

Capture part of the door in the image to provide a sense of peeking in on the action.

picture of mom looking at newborn on the bed by Kelly Marleau

mom and dad sitting on bed holding newborn by Kelly Marleau

If the room you’re in doesn’t have a door, you can use an adjacent wall to provide the same effect.

black and white picture of mom with her arms around her toddler by Kelly Marleau

You can also use the doorway to split your image in half to show two rooms. In the image below I used the doorway to show both the nursery and the kitchen, which in turn, told part of the story of this session by juxtaposing a new baby against a history filled home.

photo of mom breastfeeding baby by Kelly Marleau

By placing your subject directly in the doorway, you’re provided with an instant point for the eye to focus on. Generally, it also provides a bit of backlighting coming through the doorway, which then results in deep shadows in the other areas.

silhouette reflection maternity portrait by Kelly Marleau

2. Windows

If there are large windows in a room consider placing your subject directly in front of them and use the window shape when composing. You can expose for the window, which results in more of a silhouette or for the subject, which will blow out the window providing a more solid white background.

photo of dad holding newborn by a window by Kelly Marleau

girl standing in a bay window wearing a ballerina costume by Kelly Marleau

3. Decor objects

Don’t underestimate household objects in their ability to create framing opportunities. I often use items sitting on a countertop or coffee table when shooting across a room. It might take a bit of playing around with angles and positioning yourself, but if you can make it work, it makes for a really interesting image with depth and layers.

mom and children playing at the kitchen table by Kelly Marleau

photo of mom and dad snuggling newborn by Kelly Marleau

4. Shadows

When you’re shooting in homes, especially darker homes, shadows become your best friend. I recommend embracing them and using them to help tell the story. You can often manipulate shadows with curtains and furniture, so don’t be afraid to move things around until you find a shadow that gives you just the perfect little pocket of light to frame your subject.

low light photo of toddler standing in crib by Kelly Marleau

picture of dog looking at new baby by Kelly Marleau

The examples above are only a starting point. Homes provide endless possibilities to aid in composing your images. Other framing options include furniture (peek through 2 chairs), people (use the parents to form a frame when photographing a newborn), and cabinets (use them to block part of the image). If it moves (like lamps, plants, curtains), don’t be shy to move it and if it doesn’t move (like walls, doors, and cabinets) keep moving yourself until you get an angle you’re happy with.

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