Photography: Simple Indoor Lighting Tips

mehobbies & me time

How do you get fabulous indoor portraits of your kids? Stay away from the flash. Use the doorway instead! Sound strange? It’s not really if you think about it. The difference between a nice photo and a really fabulous shot is simply: lighting.

Look around your house. There are multiple sources of light. You want the most natural sources you can find (aka sunlight). Look at your windows, do they face north, south? Look at your doorway, open the door and stand outside looking in. Then stand inside your door and notice how the light plays with the doorway. Have you tried to take photos in a garage? Just inside the opening often is the best 'shaded' light around.

Tips for Indoor Lighting

Host a playdate with the light in your doorway

Doorways tend to soak up all that beautiful light and bounce it around in a zillion different ways. Even on a cloudy day you can achieve amazing lighting. Check out Cecily’s work from MyChaosMyBliss, on an overcast afternoon look at the amazing photos she took from her doorway.


Cecily tested the light by standing outside with her daughter inside and then she stood inside the house with the light behind her little fairy. Isn’t the effect amazing? When inside, notice how her features are all softened and you can't see really defined lines and edges like the first picture, because of the back lighting, there's less definition. Edges are blown out and softer.

She altered her ISO from 100 outside to 400 inside. But don’t stress about all the details -- just grab your point-and -hoot and go experiment in your own doorway! Try just inside a garage as well as a northern door or a southern door.

Experiment with the light in your windows

You don’t need an expensive camera or fancy lighting equipment. You just need to look around your home and find the light. Soft light streaming in from a north facing window is ideal. You wouldn’t think that but direct light is harsh and causes shadows. Especially if it’s the middle of the day and the light outside is straight down. Get your kid up close to a window and experiment with the light.

  • Try having the child turn sideways from the light
  • Sit the child facing directly towards the light
  • Place your body between the child and the light

This is my friend’s little girl, and we had her playing with syrup of all things! She sat bathed in the window light and I took a hundred photos of her and her mother. Talk about precious photos!

Use the white surface of your bathtub

To get a great photo of an item that you need for a blog post or for an Etsy shot, use your bathtub. The white of a tub is perfect to grab all the lighting and reduce shadows. Place a white towel down on the bottom of the tub and arrange your product (or naked baby!) and snap away.

What are some of your favorite photography tips to use when taking photos indoors?

In a former life, Carissa Rogers was a molecular biologist. In her current life, she is the chief researcher of bloggy karma, parenting dos (and some don’ts), new recipes, and for spice she pretends to be a photographer. She started blogging in February of 2008 and publishes her good & crazy thoughts on GoodNCrazy.com. Also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Bio: In a former life, Carissa Rogers was a molecular biologist. In her current life, she is the chief researcher of bloggy karma, parenting dos (and some don’ts), new recipes, and for spice she pretends to be a photographer. She started blogging in February of 2008 and publishes her good & crazy thoughts on GoodNCrazy.com. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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