You don’t need a full blown studio, gorgeous open field, or downtown urban setting to knock your children’s portraits out of the park.

Your house is a secret home to all sorts of spots with magical light just waiting to be utilized for fun portraits of your kids.

While not everyone owns a garage, and windows can face all different sun directions bringing with it varying light, these tips can be adapted and used in your own home, or similar spaces nearby (a personal garage can equal a parking garage!) where you can achieve the same results.

I have picked a few of my favorite spots around my home that create portrait worthy light scenarios, and will show my pull back of the area as well as the type of beautiful portrait you can achieve. Grab your camera and your kid and let’s get going!

1. Garage Light

Garage light can be the perfect diffuser with soft light coming in from the front and darkening into a windowless depth behind. This allows the light to fall softly across your subject, and fade away quickly behind them creating an instant vignette. You may need to clone out or paint over some of the oil and dirt spots on the garage floor, or you can go with it and use it to add some interest and texture to the image. My own garage (as you can see) was full of – ahem – interesting items, which I simply cropped in to remove.

pullback of photo taken in a garage by Shey Detterline

portrait of girl with curly hair taken in a garage by Shey Detterline

2. Front Door

Open that front door, sit your baby down and roll with it! The light coming in will be very similar to the garage light scenario, with the upside of being able to incorporate whatever flooring choice you have. At this angle carpet or rugs can look beautifully neutral and wood floors are always a show stopper.

pullback of photo taken by a front door by Shey Detterline

portrait of girl sitting in a chair and smiling by Shey Detterline

3. Window Light

Directional window light can be beautiful in so many scenarios. Stand your subject right up against it, even in super dark homes, to achieve gorgeous highlights and shadows across their face. Play with their angling towards and away from the window to see what looks the best in your home, and according to your style. Using the same window, you can photograph your subject backlit against the window (by shooting straight into the window) to achieve an airy and whimsical look.

picture of girl standing by a window by Shey Detterline

backlit picture of girl dancing and jumping by Shey Detterline

4. Bathtub Light

Some bathtubs and bathrooms have beautiful window light, and oftentimes if they’re on the second floor, they have unobstructed light since they don’t have to deal with as many trees and other buildings. Use this opportunity to photograph the obvious bubble bath while playing in the tub, but also think about working with the light and doing some regular portraits. I had my daughter stand in the tub and just cropped in to achieve the neutral white portrait here.

pullback of bathroom light by Shey Detterline

high key photo of curly haired girl by Shey Detterline

5. Your backyard

Walk outside in the morning or afternoon, have your subject lay down (head pointed towards the sun, feet away so they’re not staring right into the light) and stand above them to capture a joyful portrait that screams childhood and whimsy. Kids can point out clouds, look for birds or you can reach down to tickle them in between photographs. I love this angle for the unexpectedness, and kids think it’s hilarious for you to stand over them (make sure to keep that camera strap around your neck at all times!) In the same spot have them stand up or sit down a few feet away from any shrubs or trees, and while using a low aperture and standing close to your subject, you’ll achieve that dreamy bokeh we all love.

pullback of photos in a grassy backyard by Shey Detterline

picture of girl laying in the grass and laughing by Shey Detterline

portrait of young girl by Shey Detterline

Test these out at home and see what kind of magic you come up with too!

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