How to Take Better Photos in Your Home (No Flash Needed)

Several interior portraits of a woman.
Harry Guinness

Photography is often considered an outdoor hobby. Think of landscape photographers wandering through mountains and woods for a photo of the sunrise. But really, photography can be done anywhere. And inside, at home is one of the best places. Here’s how you can get started.

Understanding the light

Photography consists of working with light. The better the light, the easier it is to take great pictures. Although there is no “bad” light, some types are significantly easier to photograph than others.

For example, take artificial overhead indoor lighting (like your kitchen light). It is really difficult to take a flattering portrait when the main light source is suspended directly above your subjects’ heads. Her nose, brow ridge and lips will all cast deep shadows on her face. Try it yourself with a selfie.

This type of light is just as unflattering for other types of photos. The food photos are strangely dramatic and contrasting. It is also too dark for good close-ups. That’s not to say that you can never take good photos with direct direct light, you really just have to work for them. You also need to know exactly what you want. Managing the shadows is difficult.

If you think that taking pictures indoors is using this type of light, you are wrong. There is a better and easier source of light to find in almost any home: natural light from windows.

Two portraits of the author: one shot in natural light from a window and the other shot above the light.
They were caught in the same room, seconds apart. Notice how the shot using the window light (left) is much more flattering. Harry Guinness

Natural light from windows is by far one of the easiest and most flattering lights for working. I much prefer working with it than direct sunlight outside.

Windows are great because they are a great source of indirect light that is about level with your subjects. All the diffuse shadows are projected behind the subject, which gives it a three-dimensional aspect. Everything is very soft and easy to work with.

So what is the ideal window for home photography? Try to find one in your home with all of the following features:

  • Large: The bigger the better. A larger window lets in more light to work with.
  • Not in full sun: Choose a window out of direct sunlight. You want diffuse, reflected light.
  • Enough space to work: There is no point in having an excellent light source if you cannot stand in front of it. Look for a window that has enough space around it.

Take great portraits and selfies

A portrait photo of a woman sitting on a sofa.
Harry Guinness

The large interior is one of the best places to take a portrait because the natural light from the window is perfect for them. It really flatters people.

All the usual advice for taking portraits applies, including the following:

  • If you have a portrait objective, use it: However, any lens or camera will work.
  • Use Aperture Priority mode and set the aperture as wide as possible: Somewhere around f / 1.8 to f / 2.8 is best. If your goal only goes to f / 5.6, that’s fine too. Set the camera ISO to Auto and you’re ready to take the photo. (Skip this step if you are using a smartphone).
  • Use a tripod for self-portraits: This allows you to use a remote shutter or shutter timer.

It is more or less that! Move around and see how different angles of light affect your shots. Bring your subject closer to the window, then try further. Use your total space control and have fun.

Above all, don’t forget to play the dress up! The woman in the image above is a friend of mine wearing my great-great-grandmother’s dress.

Zoom on everyday life

A macro photo of the tip of a ballpoint pen written on a piece of paper.
Jason Dudley / Shutterstock

Macro photography is about seeing little things up close, and it’s really easy to do at home. In fact, unless you have thousands of dollars worth of equipment, your home is by far the best place to do it.

To begin, you will need a set of inexpensive extension tubes to be able to transform your ordinary lens a macro lens. They cost around $ 10, and you can get them for Canon and Nikon cameras.

The best thing about macro photography is that it lets you see everyday things from a whole new perspective. The salt crystals, the thread pattern in your tablecloth or even the crust of freshly baked bread, are all completely different when enlarged a few dozen times.

Set up a table in front of your photo window. If you have a tripod, it makes things much easier, but you can still try macro photography without having one.

Take a few different items into your home and take photos! For the best results, look for objects with interesting textures. In our more detailed guide to macro photography, Jason got some very interesting close-ups of a $ 5 bill.

Even if you don’t have the equipment to take macro shots, you can still play around with the same ideas. Try your hand at still or abstract photography. Some textures are impressive at any magnification.

RELATED: How to take advantage of low-cost macro photography

Use your control to take great composites

A composite photo of the author holding a lightsaber
With a little time, you can create great composite images. Harry Guinness

Unless you are a professional photographer, most of the time you photograph, you do not have much control over the space in which you work. You do it when you’re at home, however, and you can get a lot out of it.

Composite images are multiple photos and digital processing techniques used to create a single image. Almost all advertising photos are composite images, for which the subject, background and product are photographed separately, then combined later in Photoshop.

A good example is add a lightsaber to any image. This fairly simple composite requires just a little time in Photoshop. However, you can use the same tools and techniques to pretend that you are levitating, fighting a bear, or that your child is in a dangerous situation.

Making a good composite image takes a little bit of work and space, which is why these are great for making at home. Just set aside a day and install everything in front of your favorite “photo window”.

An outdoor photo of a woman who appears to be levitating on her back.
I took it outside, but you could do the same inside. Harry Guinness

In addition to your photography skills, you will also need a good understanding of some Photoshop features to create a good composite image. Some of the most important features are how to use layers and masks, as good as remove people and objects.

If you’re not up to the task yet, check out our guide to Photoshop. For more specific advice on composites, we recommend Phlearn.

RELATED: How to Create a Lightsaber in Photoshop

Other ideas

Portraits, macro photography and composites are just a fraction of the things you can have fun filming at home. For example, you can get into food photography, turn your pets into Instagram starsor play with dyes and water. It’s yours!

Remember that photography does not have to take place outdoors. There is always an excellent light source that you can work with, even at home.

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