Welcome to the Memories Captured Project, a series designed to help parents take beautiful pictures of their children. See more in the series here.
Today's post is all about that good indoor light! By far the most common questions about which topics I should cover were all about indoor light. How do I take good pictures of my kids when we're inside? Where should the light be coming from? What if I live in a darker home?
Photographers are ALWAYS thinking about light - it's one of the biggest factors in how their product turns out. Light and bright, dark and moody, harsh shadows, endless brightness - there are a million ways you can manipulate light to produce beautiful and artistic photos. My personal style is light, bright and happy, so I'm going to share tips that help me achieve those types of photos indoors.
1. Find the best light
Open all the curtains in your house. Check the lighting in each room in the morning, middle of the day, and 1-2 hours before sunset. I'm always surprised which rooms get the best light, and what times of day. You're looking for lots of sunlight and that beautiful glow.
This is the corner of my bed in the master bedroom (and my toddler who refused to move for the picture):
This room gets lots of light in the mornings, so I like to strip the blankets and pillows off, open the curtains all the way and take pictures of my kids on the bed during that time of day. Here are some pictures taken with my kids on the bed (the first one is from my old apartment, which also got great light in the bedroom).
2. Turn off the flash and lights
I'm serious. Unless you have a super fancy external flash that you paid hundreds of dollars for, TURN OFF THE FLASH. When you photograph your child indoors with the flash on, their face will be overexposed and bright, and the rest of the picture will be thrown into harsh shadow.
Also turn off your overhead lights if at all possible. Unless you have those fancy bright daylight bulbs (luckyyyyyy), your overhead lights will put a weird yellow tinge on your children's pictures. It can be edited out, but it's better not to have it in the first place.
If I'm trying to capture a really memorable moment late at night or in the fairly dark far back corner of my kitchen, I'll turn the light on. But for the most part, turn the lights off and the flash off. (You can easily brighten the picture by following my tips from this post.)
Here's another example of a room in my house that gets fairly good light, thanks to the huge sliding glass door. The living room:
And here are some pictures I've taken in the living room. No light, no flash, no color distortion.
3. Avoid direct sunlight and backlight
If you have direct sunlight pouring in a window, place your subject just outside of the direct light. Almost all my food photography pictures in my old apartment were taken in my daughter's room. It got LOTS of direct sunlight, and so I'd just place the food on my faux backdrop right next to the direct sunlight.
Also avoid backlight. If you have a huge window with tons of light coming in, fabulous! Just don't place your subject directly in front of the window (unless you're going for an artistic silhouette picture that also captures the details of what's just outside the window). Instead, place your subject to the side and turn their face to the light.
My kitchen gets lots of direct sunlight. See how backlit it is if I stand here and take a picture?
When I take pictures of food for my blog, I scoot the table to the side a bit so it's out of direct sunlight, and then I take the picture so the light is coming in from the front and side. (I put my faux backdrop right on top of my kitchen table for these pictures.)
6. If you can move your kid to the good light, do it
Obviously you want your pictures to be authentic. So if your child has spilled an entire box of cereal in the kitchen, you'll photograph it in the kitchen, even if it's not the best light in the house. But ask yourself, "Can I still capture this moment if I move my child to where the good light is?"
For example, my twin babies will be cute and smile anywhere. So if I want to photograph them giggling, I'll put them where the good light is and then start playing peek-a-boo. When they get to be toddlers, it gets much more tricky. You want to photograph things as they're happening, and many times if you move toddlers to a different part of the house, they'll forget all about that super cute thing they were doing. The authenticity of the moment takes precedence over the best lighting, and that's okay.
A few pictures taken in the kids rooms. They don't get the best light, but the moment was authentic, so I took the pictures there anyway:
Hope this helps! If you're having trouble finding good light or taking good pictures of your kids indoors, please feel free to message me (on Instagram or Facebook or whatever works for you). I'd love to look at the lighting in your house and offer what tips I can.