Photographing children: Tips for creating interesting light indoors

When I photograph families and children I often like to start in their homes for the first half of the shoot. I will take images of the children in their bedrooms with their favourite toys, as I like to think in years to come these photos will be invaluable.  I am often asked by photographers I train how I find interesting light indoors, so I thought I would write a blog post with some recent images I took as examples.

Light is pretty much always my first decision when I am looking for a location and I will often look for light bright and airy rooms. I will also look for more dramatic, high contrast lighting OR look to create this myself if it isn’t available.

Below is an example of how I have created some more interesting light in my bedroom at home.

  • Behind the scenes 

My room is light and bright and actually and has very flat light with minimal shadows.  I was hanging up clothes (does anyone else find this the most boring job on the planet!) and I had my daughter sitting with me telling me all about Little Kelly on Minecraft.

As you can see she had styled her own outfit (!!) including a VERY bright jo-jo bow and pink leather jacket.

 

photographing kids indoor light
  • Making the light source smaller/ more dramatic

I began by taking a test shot and then removing the bow, jacket and letting her hair down!

Then I chose to reduce the amount window light to create more contrast in the image. To do this I literally closed the curtains to leave a gap of around 20 cm. I again took a test shot to see how it looked and actually ended up keeping this shot of my daughter as I love the way the light highlights her profile.

photographing kids indoor light
children's photography in the home

  • The final image

 

This image is pretty much straight out of camera I have just been through a clean RAW edit process to check the white balance, reduce any noise and boosted the colour vibrancy.

I positioned myself next to the window and placed my daughter in the shaft of light that was coming through the gap in the curtains. I shot this on my Canon 5diii with a Sigma 85mm lens.

As you can see the background appears much darker than the subject and this is because of the inverse square law of light.

What this means in the light intensity drops disproportionately when the subject is moved further away from the light.  How I use this is if I keep my subject closer to the light source (the gap in the curtains) the darker the background appears in camera.

Here is an example of the inverse-square law in action. A certain amount of light passes through the hole at a distance of 1 foot from the light-bulb. At distances of 2 feet, 3 feet, and 4 feet from the bulb, the same amount of light spreads out to cover 4, 9, and 16 times the hole’s area, respectively.

 

 

 

If you would like to read more on the subject you can read this great article here on Petapixel.

  • Playing around with less traditional lighting

    Here is another example of using a more unusual light source indoors. I have a blind in our spare bedroom and it lets in light around the edges (so basically is a rubbish blind!). My daughter was sat on the window sill and it created quite an interesting lighting effect.

     

 

photographing children indoor lighting

I hope you have found this blog of use and look forward to seeing your indoor images :-). If you are interested in learning more about photographing children I offer 1-2-1 photography mentoring or group workshops.

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