With most people having a pretty amazing camera in their pockets these days, there is no shortage of amazing photographs in the world. Instagram and Facebook are filled with gorgeous pictures. We are bombarded by pictures taken in homes perfectly decorated with meticulous yards all worthy of a magazine cover.
What do you do, though if you have a “normal home?” Can you even create beautiful photos in a less-than-picturesque environment?
The reality is, we don’t all have homes that mimic Pinterest boards. Our backyards are often filled with grass and a sandbox instead of perfect gardens. Our refrigerators have preschool drawings and spelling tests stuck to them. The walls in our homes are not all gray and our windows don’t all face north.
But I am here to tell you that you can still create beautiful photos in your home! I know it can be daunting to look around your home and see more shabby than the chic, but I promise you are not alone.
The 1970s paneling in my house? It’s definitely not coming back into style anytime soon! The endless trail of shoes, backpacks, and socks? It all seems to magically reappear within moments of my cleaning them!
But this house is where all of our best memories happen. And so is your home. So let’s work together to figure out how to create the photos we love in the imperfect homes we love, too.
Change your perspective
Sometimes when you look at a scene from where you stand, the imperfections feel too big to conquer. But a little shift in your point of view can make a huge difference in what you see in your photographs.
Simply changing the angle from which you are shooting can make all the difference in what you see in your camera. These are some of my go-to perspectives for imperfect locations.
Shoot from above
Shooting above a subject magically helps you eliminate any unwanted elements from your frame. I use this perspective when I do not have time to clean up the living room or when I want to avoid an object I cannot easily move (like my less-than-picturesque chain link fence). I have been known to stand on chairs, sofas, or even climb trees to get a bird’s eye view.
Shooting from above is also a great way to capture a parental point of view. We watch our children from a higher perspective daily. Having images from your eye level down will help you remember how little they were. And who doesn’t want to hold onto that?!
For the parents’ point of view, I often photograph my children while they are sitting and playing and I remain standing. You can eliminate any distracting elements simply by moving to a small area of clean floor.
Much like shooting from above, I use shooting from a lower angle to avoid certain elements in my frame. I often shoot from down low when we are outdoors as I can fill the frame with pretty skies while avoiding distractions.
I love this point of view when we are on a busy playground and I only want my child in the frame. You can often find me laying flat on the ground to get as low as possible! However, as long as you are lower than your subject, you can reap the rewards of this perspective.
Pro tip: Use foreground elements to help block out any distractions.
Fill the frame
This is one of my favorite compositions when I don’t have the energy to rearrange furniture or tidy up before taking a photo. Plus, I just love portraits that fill the entire frame! It is one of my all-time favorite ways to capture my children.
Not only does it let me capture all the details of their faces, it also makes my life so much easier when I don’t have to ask them to change out of their favorite graphic t-shirts.
Pro tip: Filling the frame with your subject leaves the viewer no other choice than to linger on the details. It is very important to watch that you have a sharp focus and you need to pay attention to your depth of field. I will often shoot with a smaller aperture when I am filling the frame to ensure that my subject is completely in focus.
Filling the frame with your subject leaves the viewer no other choice than to linger on the details. It eliminates the need for a pretty background as your subject takes up all of the space!
Clear the clutter
This may seem like a very obvious tip, but take a second to look for any removable distractions in your viewfinder. If there are distracting toys in the background, push them aside.
I like a clean slate for my photos, so I tend to remove any objects I can. It is amazing how removing some of the clutter from the frame will transform a snapshot into a piece of art!
I am also a big fan of moving furniture. Because believe it or not, my living room is not set-up solely for pictures!
When I want a blank wall to be the backdrop, I need space for the kids to play, or the furniture itself is the distraction, taking a minute to move a couch or table can make a huge difference. My kids know I have a picture in mind when they walk into a room and I have rearranged the furniture.
Much like you want to exclude certain things from your frame, be sure you embrace what you love! I love my table, so I use it a lot in my pictures. I can simply clear whatever clutter may be on the table to the floor to get a shot I love.
Use shadows to hide distractions
Light and shadows can work like magic to highlight your subject and hide distractions. And while it may sound daunting for me to tell you to use physics in your photos, I promise it isn’t too complicated.
The Inverse Square Law determines how quickly light loses its intensity as it moves away from the source. There is an absolute mathematical equation to figure this out, but understanding the calculations is not as important to me as being able to implement the law into my photography.
The idea is that the closer the subject is to the light source, the more the light behind the subject will fall off into shadow. So, for example, if you want to light only the subject and absolutely nothing else, you would place your subject as close to the light as possible.
You expose for the subject which leaves the background underexposed, turning it into darkness in the camera. This means that any distractions that are in the room beyond your subject magically disappear. Thanks science!
Embrace your surroundings
At the end of the day, don’t forget that your life is beautiful just the way it is. In fact, the the mess is sometimes where the beauty resides!
You will want to have some pictures to remember the baskets filled with unfolded laundry and the puzzle pieces all over the floor. Someday your home will be remodeled and you will love seeing those outdated kitchen photos. Because even the most imperfect homes hold the most perfect memories.
Life has a way of passing quickly. Ao while you are in the thick of it, be sure to create some of the most beautiful pictures by embracing the world around you.
There is no need to wait to have the ideal home or move to the mountains in order to create beautiful images. You are able to capture meaningful, gorgeous images right now, right where you are. There may be some challenges to overcome. But with a little creativity, anything is possible.