Photographing your children in and around your home, going about daily life, is something you will not regret. I’ve been passionately documenting my children and our everyday life for around 8 years now, and I’m so grateful for all the little reminders of how life was, whether it be 5 years ago or 6 months ago.
So, in the interests of inspiring you to grab your camera and do the same, here are some top tips to improve your documentation of life at home. Beginning with tip number one.
- Quick disclaimer before we jump in, being the professional photographer that I am, all of my images have been taken with a DSLR camera fitted with either a 50mm or 35mm lens, and I realise having this gear (and an understanding of how to use it) tends to give me an advantage. However, I’m hoping that these tips will still be helpful and inspiring, regardless of the equipment you have on hand.
TIP ONE: FIND YOUR LIGHT
Ok, so this tip applies to photography full stop. Whether you’re shooting at home or anywhere in the world! Beautiful, interesting, flattering light, is paramount to wonderful photography. But in the interests of keeping things simple, when photographing at home, window light is your friend - and I’m going to break window light down into three main categories: soft light, direct light and backlight.
If you’re after beautiful, soft, even light, find a window that doesn’t have direct sun flooding through it, and face your subject towards it. The light will illuminate their face and add a pretty sparkle to their eyes. Boom. This light is the easiest of all. In fact, you don’t even need to face your subject towards the window, a little bit of soft side light is just as lovely. Soft window light is my ‘go to’ light for pretty portraits. There’s no harsh shadows to contend with and your camera won’t be confused by it - it’s just an all round gem.
To be honest, when I’m around, this light is usually called ‘ooooh look at the beautiful sun patch’ light - but for the sake of keeping things all professional and whatnot, direct light is probably the more official terminology. This light comes in the form of strong sun shining directly through a nearby window. I love this light because it adds a little bit of drama to ordinary situations, and it’s pretty awesome at highlighting your subject within a scene. Direct light also gives you lots of opportunity to play with shadows and patterns - particularly if it’s shining through something hanging in the window, like partially open blinds or lace curtains, or perhaps even something outside the window, like leaves on a tree. Just be aware however, you may need to be somewhat more considered when positioning your subject within this brighter light so that the effect is still flattering. Strong light can mean harsh shadows, so depending on how you go about things, the result can be striking and beautiful, or maybe just a little iffy.
For a backlit golden glow, this is best achieved when the sun coming into your home is lower in the sky, so closer to the hours of sunrise or sunset. However, indoor backlight can be beautiful any time of day. Backlight can occasionally be tricky as the light source is behind your subject, and sometimes your camera might read the scene and throw in a flash to help ‘fill out’ the light. Firmly tell your camera ‘no thanks’, and put that flash away! In fact, I don’t use a flash for any daylight situation, I prefer to hunt out whatever natural light I can find.
Backlight might take a little bit of practice, and trial and error, and you will need to decide whether you want to expose for your subject or create a silhouette - both of which make for great images, but create a different feel. For the most part, I tend to expose backlit images for the subject, which often means I lose a little detail in the background, but I’m ok with that. Backlight might require a little bit more understanding of how to use your camera, but when you nail a backlit image, you get a wonderful angelic effect that feels nostalgic and soft - #worthit.
Depending on the time of day and the light outside, windows offer an endless supply of photographic opportunity. Observe and notice where interesting or beautiful light happens within your home and have fun with it! Knowing good light and experimenting with it, is the top way to take your photos from drab to fab.
If nothing else, switch off the overhead lights, open those curtains and let all the natural light in, it will just make everything better - promise.