Once the mercury starts to dip, my desire to stay indoors starts to rise. Plus, with my kids not getting home from school till late afternoon, that ends up leaving little time to get some shots outside before the sun sets.
Since I don’t own a flash, nor do I know how to use one (it’s on my list of things to learn!), I have to utilize either natural or artificial light when shooting indoors.
1. Find the light for that time of day
First things first, I normally try to shoot using natural light 99% of the time. In my home, we have a pretty decent amount of windows, so during different times of the day you’re bound to find at least one part of the house that has ample light.
Figure out where the light hits at different times of the day. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but it bears repeating. Really, get to know the light in your home. Become good friends. I know that in the late afternoon, the light is amazing at the back of our house. The late afternoon sun just comes streaming in. So, if I’m in need of a shot, that’s where I’ll make sure to place my subject, or at least encourage them to do their playing/writing/photo-worthy activity there.
2. Ask your kids to play in a certain spot
Our windows are on the larger side, so I’ll often have my kids do their activity right in front of them. It’s not like I just happen upon them sitting in the amazing light – I wish! What will generally happen is I will see them doing something and ask them if they’d mind moving to a different spot (with better light!) so I can take their picture. They normally go along with this without any fuss and that’s when I will direct them towards the better light around our windows.
NOTE: If they don’t want me to take their picture, I do not force it. I respect their wishes and try another time.
3. Use the windows and light to frame your kids
I use the light from the windows in different ways, although backlight is probably one of my favorite ways to light my kiddos. In fact, I love to create a moodier look with backlight by creating a bit of a silhouette by exposing for the highlights on my subject.
Just having my kids in close enough proximity to a window, I can use the surrounding elements in the room to frame the light that’s coming through and create a story.
4. Open the curtains and/or blinds
When I’m using natural light in my indoor images, I make sure to open up any curtains, blinds, etc that I’ll be needing for my light source. Depending on the image, I might want to flood the room with light, or not. I also make sure to turn off any overhead lights since I don’t want any weird color casts or any change in color temperature to affect my final image.
5. Use the existing artificial light
That’s not to say that you can’t use any artificial light you might have around your home! You can use so many artificial sources like computers, the tv, the fridge, etc to cast just enough light on your subject. When using a light source like this, I will also turn off any other lights that I don’t want to use. I just make sure to have that one light source and make sure that one, or both, of my kiddos is near it in some way.
A big help when using the artificial light around your home is to manually adjust your white balance. I will either use Kelvin or an ExpoDisc to make sure that I get my color just right. Learning how to do this changed my photography and made it so much easier for me to edit my images.
6. Grab a wider angle lens
One last thing, for indoor shooting, I tend to reach for either my 35mm or my 24-70 to let more light into the frame. The available light, the size of the room, and the effect that I am trying to create with my final image will determine which lens I end up going with. I really like including as much as the scene as I can so wider is the way I normally go. I also don’t mind pushing my ISO if need be. I love a little grain in an image, but I can always get rid of it in post processing if I want to.
That’s it! There are so many ways to use the available light in your home to create amazing images. Now go look around your home and see what you can find, I think you’ll be really surprised!