Photography 101 - At Home Photography Tips for Quarantine using only Window Lighting
So... you're stuck at home in quarantine with your kids. You might be starting to feel cooped up in the house with less and less things to do. Maybe your kids are running out of projects and your creative spirit is dwindling. Maybe you've resorted to Netflix. Or wine. Or locking yourself in your basement.
Since photography service is not considered essential business (and rightly so), I wanted to put together my top 5 tips for photographing your own kids at home. You don't need a fancy camera or variety of lenses. The best camera is the one you have on you. I'm using my own personal photos of one of my FAVORITE subjects, my dog Bella, to show you examples of all of my tips! Join me - I know you have time. ;)
1. FIND A WINDOW, ANY WINDOW
Using natural light is going to be the BEST source of natural light you can find indoors. The bigger the window the more light that will be dispersed on your subject. Easy peasy, yeah?
2. STEP AWAY FROM THE WINDOW & FACE THE WINDOW
To increase the spread of light on your subject, simply have them step away from the window. Ideally, you want to be just off to the side shooting with your back to the window and the subjects face turned toward the window light. This is great if you want to capture your kiddos from afar too! This tip is essential if you want to capture multiple kids in one photo.
In the photo below of Bella, the window is directly in front of her where she is facing the window, and my back is to the window just off to the side. She is at least 5 feet from the window and you can see a nice even spread of light over her. The trick here is getting them to stay. I use treats to bribe my kids (aka dogs) but I hear goldfish and screen time are good incentives...? Maybe not? We're in quarantine, we can all make exceptions!
3. TURN OFF ALL OTHER LIGHTS
This might seem counter productive. Why would you tell me to turn the lights off when the more light there is, the brighter the image will be?? Well, when you try to mix different light sources, it's kind of like they are fighting for attention. Turning off all overhead lights will prevent any shadows underneath the eyes and any other shadows coming from places all together. It will also get rid of any nasty yellow colors in your photo.
I'm using this image (below) to show you how I should have turned off the lamp behind Bella and Brett before taking the image. The yellow hue from the lamp behind them is distracting and is creating weird spots in the reflection of the TV, not to mention a strange halo effect behind his head. What I did right here though, was turn them towards the window - so that's a plus! Sometimes in the moment you don't have time to make the adjustments needed. Just snap the photo if it's a moment you don't want to miss! Like your kids drawing shapes on your wall with crayons! Oh wait, yeah - maybe you should put your camera down for that one.
4. AVOID DIRECT SUNLIGHT
When you find a window, make sure that there is no direct sunlight coming into the window. This will create really harsh shadows and be too overexposed in your camera. The best time of day to shoot indoors in your home is going to be during mid-day when the sun is directly overhead because there is not direct sunlight able to enter in! This may also sound counter productive to what you may have heard about shooting during early and evening hours - but that's more applicable if you are shooting outdoors. You can also diffuse any light that is too bright by using white shades or curtains to soften the light.
If the light was too bright here, I could have pulled the white curtain over to diffuse the light.
5. MOVE CLOSE TO THE WINDOW
Okay, now you're probably confused. In step 2, I told you to move away from the window. Now you want me to step towards the window? Yes! Yes and yes. My favorite kind of window light portrait happens close to the window.
By moving closer to the window, you allow a deeper shadow on the side furthest from the subject allowing you to have a narrow beam of light. This can add drama to an image and draw you to certain part of a picture. Experiment with this and have some fun!
Can you imagine your cute kid in place of my adorable Bella? I can't.. but you can try! I am pretty biased.
And she's pretty cute, isn't she?
Okay now you have 5 tools in your toolbox for taking better photos of you own family right in the comfort of your own home! No fancy lighting, no fancy camera - just a window, a subject and a splash of creativity to make your own unique portraits at home!
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