Have you ever caught yourself thinking “I could make great images if only my home looked like it came right out of Pinterest”? I know I have.  There are times when I have felt like my favorite photographers (especially the lifestyle ones) must all have beautiful homes with high ceilings, great big windows with magnificent light everywhere.  Most of all they must have absolutely no mess or clutter.  How else can their photographs look so good?

I thought about this quite a bit last year and decided to set myself a mission.  I was going to document my family life regardless of my unglamorous home and 4 year old boy that leaves a constant trail of destruction.  Here I will show you some of my favorite images of 2012 with pullbacks to go with each of them.  All of these images were taken in my very ordinary home and the pullbacks taken with my iPhone so you can see just how unglamorous it really is.  My house is not all that bad I guess, but we are a family that spends more time interacting together rather than decorating.  You are about to see it as it is every day.  Not the way it would look if we were expecting guests, but truly lived in.

Playroom mess.

My kids’ playroom has so much stuff in it.  I have often wondered if I should turn it into a theme park and start charging admission.  Where did all these toys come from? For your reference, the piano is in exactly the same position as in my final photograph.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

Living room.

Our living room is quite small and not very well lit.  However, it does have some beams of light that stream through the shutters, which I love.  I also often use the wall as a backdrop, as I like the lighting the window provides.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

Dining area.

Nothing special to see, but I use the windows in this space to my advantage.  I will sit my daughter there (as in the example below) or set up an activity for my son at the table.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

Ensuite.

Our little bathroom is very dark.  Here I saw an opportunity for an interesting image when I noticed the texture of the glass window.  Seeking out different textures and lines can be a great way to create visual interest.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

Hallway.

Look for pockets of light and try to place your subject there.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

Spare bedroom.

This bedroom is at the back of our house.  It is mostly used as a storage space and very rarely seen by guests.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

Let’s go outside.

I am always on the lookout for interesting shadows.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

I attempt to keep my images as simple as possible, making sure that my subject is the main focus.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

I look for open shade. The front porch as seen below looks quite dull, but it allowed me to place my daughter in the shade, while having some great light coming in on her at the same time.

taking beautiful photographs in cluttered, boring spaces tutorial by Australian photographer Narelle Bailey

The two most important lessons in photography I have learned so far, which come up time and time again, are the following:

  1. Find the light!  Try to forget about your surroundings for a moment.  Just go and find the best light available to you. Then worry about the composition.
  2. You are in complete control of what is included in your frame!  SLOW DOWN. Examine your frame through the viewfinder. What have you included? Why have you included certain things and omitted others? Everything within your frame should be there for a reason.

I hope this tutorial has inspired you a little to create some great images at home or if you are in business, given you some ideas of how you can utilize the spaces in your client’s homes.

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