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I admit, photographing in people’s homes used to scare the bleep out of me. Not knowing what kind of natural light would be available, what their decor would look like, or what kind of furniture they had was terrifying. And what if it was dark and stormy on the day of our session?!?? That would mean very little or no natural light coming through the windows. So many unknowns. But, as light became my obsession, I learned to use natural and/or artificial light so that I could go into people’s homes and capture what I TRULY LOVE about photography…love and emotion. Shooting indoors can be tricky, but is so rewarding as you create art that is intimate and personal for the family, and it keeps your creativity and skills challenged (aka avoiding the infamous “photographer rut”). Here are a few tips on shooting indoors…

Find pockets of direct sunlight coming through windows and place your subjects within that. When you expose for the bright part of the image, the rest of the image falls into shadow and you are left with a beautiful  highlighted subject.


Use the parts of a home that make for interesting visuals…wall art, hardwood floors, cool furniture, unique lighting, etc.jeansmith_emery25


It is an automatic habit for many people to always expose for the subject. Sometimes, purposely underexpose your subject(s) for a softer, more intimate moment and look.

Use a front or 45 degree light (natural or artificial) to flatter your subjects when shooting a portrait shot (them looking at the camera).

And THEN, when they aren’t looking at the camera, place them so that the light is at a more dramatic position, such as 90 degrees. It gives beautiful contrast and depth to your images.



As you can see from the last few images, I think beds make fantastic shooting locations. Just make sure all distracting elements are removed around the bed and night stands as you may be shooting from many different angles (alarm clocks, tissue boxes, etc).

6 Responses

  1. Meghan says:

    this was so helpful, Jean! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jenn Sawtelle says:

    Such fantastic tips and what an absolutely GORGEOUS session! Love it.

  3. Niki says:

    This was great and very helpful! I just seem to have a hard time convincing clients that their house is NOT too small to do a session ;)

  4. colleen says:

    beautiful…..great instruction with gorgeous photos…thank you!

  5. Veronica says:

    Beautiful photos and helpful hints. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Kristin says:

    Thanks for posting this Jean! It reinforces your talk this past week in Seattle, which I loved!! Do you have any favorite resources for learning about lighting?