Friday, November 8, 2013

Indoor Photography for Dummies

Ok, so the more I do indoor sessions the more I love it! And you guys, I've really been surprised by how *easy* it is! So I decided to give you all a few pointers of things I've learned that have really helped me. If you are a mom who just wants to take better pics of your own kids at home hopefully some of this is helpful to you!

So here is a look at my "studio".

When setting up for pics you want to pick someplace in your house that has good natural lighting. For me that is in my dining room in front of the doors to the deck. So I move my dining room table and set up right in front of the door!

For the most attractive lighting you want your subject to be at an angle to the window...not straight on. See how I have the little crate turned a little to the side above? It will create nice lighting and flattering shadows. (Also make sure you don't have any sun "splotches"....move back further from the window if needed, or wait until a different time of day, so that you have even lighting and not streaks of sunshine shining right in their face.)

Now for the set up. I bought the stand above on Etsy for $40. If you go on Pinterest though they have lots of tutorials for making your own out of PVC piping. And then the *key*....vinyl backdrops! If you search for vinyl backdrops on Etsy you will find tons! I have a neutral one that you've seen me use before, and then recently I got 4 new ones---these here:

I used all of them in the session on Thursday except the blue one....I have another indoor session next week though so I'll have to try that one out too! The shop I ordered from on Etsy does buy 3 get one free. There are different sizes you can order, but I get the 4x5 foot size ....they average around $50 for that size.
These are the quickest way to look more professional when taking pictures at home! If you just want to invest in one I'd pick a neutral and then dress it up for different holidays etc. with buntings or fun accessories. They roll up for easy storage. If they get wrinkled you can iron them (with a towel to protect the vinyl.)

In my opinion the quickest way to ruin an indoor picture is to use a sheet for your backdrop. Sorry, but nothing drives me more crazy that wrinkly sheets hanging up for a photo. It really drives me crazy when studios like Picture People or Sears etc. do this. :-P So, skip the sheet! Get a backdrop haha

Ok, now for settings. If you shoot in manual you will probably need to increase your ISO quite a bit when shooting inside. Even in front of the window my ISO for the pictures I'm sharing below was set to 800. You want to make sure it's high enough that you don't have to increase exposure a ton when editing---this will make your photos look grainy.

Now with your ISO set higher you need to lower your shutter speed for the same reason---to brighten the photo. My shutter speed for these was 200....if I was shooting moving subjects running around I'd increase it to 250.

And then for the f ----I had my f at 2.8 for that I could blur the background. The lower the f the more blur you get. If my f was higher at like 4.0 I'd have less blur.

****Please note, I've never taken a photography class so don't make fun of my untechnical explanations haha....I make this stuff up as I go. It seems to be working though so I figured I'd share! :-)

Ok, now here are some pictures from my session on Thursday! First here is the *unedited* picture


The goal with the unedited is that you want it to look pretty darn good without needing editing, as far as lighting/exposure is concerned. I know my camera settings were pretty good because this photo doesn't look too bad as is


No matter how nice of a camera you have you need to do some editing if you want to have that more "pro" feel. I use Lightroom for editing. First I gave this picture a more interesting crop. Then I warmed it up by increasing the "temp" slider in Lightroom. See how much warmer the color tone is in the edited one? Then I did some skin smoothing using the "soften skin" function in lightroom. Babies often have splotchy skin, so you want to give them the super smooth creamy skin for edited photos. Then for me I like high contrast/high clarity edits. This is personal preference. So I always increase the contrast and clarity sliders in Lightroom, and also usually the vibrance too.

And viola! Adorable right? ;-)

 Here's one more example:

Once again, the lighting is pretty good, etc.


Much warmer tone and again some skin smoothing, etc. Precious!

One more piece of advice ....props. See the brown and red "blankets" I used? That is just fabric from the fabric store. For one yard of the fabric it was $14, but I bought during a 50% off sale. I bought red/brown/blue for now.

And the crate he's in for the first photo? That is just a basic crate from any hobby/craft store. I think I paid $12. I have a white one and a natural one. You could paint them too. I use these for kids to sit on, stand on, sit in, etc....they are so versatile....a must have for sure.

Ok, I hope that helps someone a little!! :-)

Oh, how about one more quick share. I had twin seniors on Thursday as well....gorgeous, and I was so thrilled that I'm starting to find the catchlights when shooting in the sun...I love the sun haze look!



  1. I love this post! How did you learn all if this and you did it so quickly?

    1. Thanks! I don't know---I've never had a single photography class, not even in school. I just keep taking pictures and learn through trail and error I guess :-) I thought maybe this post would save other people from doing the same trial and error lol.

  2. Great post!! I wish I would have known all of these tricks my kids were smaller! I need to get brave and get out of the 'auto' mode on my camera.

    1. Yes! Moving to manual was scary at first, but it really wasn't hard once I just decided to do it. Really makes a huge difference!

  3. I wish you lived closer, I would totally be asking you to do photo sessions! LOL! Love all of your indoor photos!!

  4. love it thanks! i have been trying to figure out how to set up inside.. One small suggestion I have.. is that when you increase the color to warm up the photos.. its a good idea to do a brush on on the skin to reduce the yellow tone babies are much more pink than adults.. Just thought I'd share what I had found to work for me.. I have also not had any schooling.. trail and error.. thanks for the great info!


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