Tips for Using Natural Light For In-Home Sessions

5 tips for using natural light for in-home sessions

In-home sessions (or lifestyle sessions) have become very popular with family photographers. They’re a great option when you have less-than-stellar weather, or the family wants to simply capture memories at home. But, as a photographer, if you’re not used to shooting indoors or in a smaller space, these in-home sessions can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re photographing an in-home family session or a lifestyle newborn session, this guide will provide you with tips for using natural light for in-home sessions. I promise: don’t panic! As long as the home has windows, you’ll be just fine!! 

#1: Schedule the session for mid-day! 

Although we’re not typically going to schedule outdoor sessions for the middle of the day, in-home sessions should be scheduled then. Ideally, you want a start time between 10am and 2pm when the sun is highest in the sky. This helps avoid any strong or harsh streams of light as the sun rises or goes down.

#2: Let light guide your location choices! 

Prepare your family in advance that you will be interested in finding rooms with the best light. Give them a few examples of what commonly works well (nursery, master bedroom, living room…etc) When you get there, do a quick walk through or even try a few test shots in each area if you have a willing model. This is part of the process. Don’t feel rushed! 

#3: Know your ISO limits. 

You may be tempted to bump up your ISO but be cautious. By knowing your camera’s limits for ISO, you’ll be able to accurately judge when to stop bumping up your ISO. Remember, the higher your ISO, the more grain in an image. You don’t want to get used to shooting with a high ISO and jeopardize the quality of your photos when you could easily move your subjects into better light. 

#4: Use window light a few ways.

When you’re shooting in a home, the light coming into the room will provide you with a few options. Embrace the drama that you get when light is coming in from the side of your subjects. You can also try having your clients face the window with you between them and the window. This will give a more evenly lit portrait. You can also try to backlight your subjects for a pretty silhouette to round out your gallery! Take the time to play with the options you might not usually have outdoors. 

#5: Don’t be afraid to rearrange.

When you’re working in a home, it’s pretty common to rearrange the space you’re in to facilitate the best lighting. Don’t be afraid to move a rocking chair closer to the window, or adjust where someone is sitting. This is the only way to make the most of the light you have – so go for it (with the help of your clients!).  

Editing In-Home Sessions

When it comes time to edit your final images, here’s a few other tips for you! First, embrace the grain. Indoor sessions can push your limits with shooting in low light, so just embrace what’s going on in your final images. It’s super common! Take the time to alter your shadows when you need a little bump to bring more clarity into the photo, too. Finally, it’s worthwhile to find a good preset for shooting indoors if it’s something you’re going to be doing often! This should be a different preset from your outdoor work. 

In-home family or newborn sessions aren’t something to be too afraid of! As you photograph more of them, you’ll start to feel more confident and comfortable. I hope these tips helped you feel more ready for your next lifestyle session! Still have questions? Drop a comment below – I’d love to know how else I can help you prepare for your sessions! 

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about Danielle Blewitt

Hi, I’m Danielle. I’m a Pittsburgh, based family photographer and marketing expert. I help family photographers build and grow successful businesses using simple, organic marketing strategies. This space is designed to give you some of my best practical tips to implement in your business.

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