Smart phone tips: Three steps to taking better photos indoors

I often find myself wanting to take photos of my kids at home when they are at their most relaxed (or crazy). The photo opportunities that happen within our home are some of the most precious candid moments and I want to be able to capture them all with the device that is right there – my phone.

The problem is taking great photos indoors can be really challenging! It’s often dark and the artificial lights from overhead create colour casts that aren’t flattering to anyone (yuk!). Below are the things I’m looking for every time I pick my phone up to take a photo indoors. While every environment is different the first thing to look for is good natural light.  Find the largest natural light source you can, such as sliding glass doors, or a window. If you don’t have any natural light available opening a door to the natural light outside will also work! The next thing to look for is the direction of the light. I like to light my portraits from the front or the side, but for the purpose of this tutorial lets chat about front light. Front light is flattering for the skin, and great for eliminating the appearance of wrinkles or bags under the eyes, that’s what we all want right? 😉 Here’s an example of the environment I photographed in recently and where I positioned myself to get the best light.

Place your subject as close as you can to the light source, so they are facing the light and your back is to the ligh, like in the image above. If there is sunlight entering the room then try and avoid placing the subject in direct sunlight, putting the subject just behind sunlight will reflect nicely onto their faces for that warm glow.

After I’m happy with my light, next I take a look at what is in my frame, and what is in the background. Always take a look at what is going on behind your subject! If there is anything distracting in the background such as open doors or high contrast or reflective objects then remove these. Turn off other light sources inside such as overhead  lights or lamps so you are only photographing your subject using natural light. Lights on in the background are also going to cause the eye to be directed to that spot. If there is another window in the background I will also close the curtains if I want a darker background.

In shot one below you can see a few distractions such as cushions and a pink suitcase that I’ve removed. I’ve also cropped out the square window on the left by moving my body.

The last thing to do to to improve your background is turn on portrait mode. Not all phones have this, but if you do, use it! This will create a blur which eliminates distracting elements in the background. It will also make your images appear a lot more professional, like they come from a big fancy camera;) Check out the difference between these two images with a clear background and portrait mode on.

Lastly when I’m photographing people and I have my light and background the way I want it, Its time to get the right moment. If you are documenting something happening in front of you, like kids playing, wait for the right moment, or if you are taking a portrait like the shots above then interact with your subject to relax them and snap when they are at their best (I’ll share a bit more on how to do this another day). If I’m photographing a moment that might pass I will always take the shot first, no matter what the light or background is doing, just so I don’t miss it! But once I have this image, I’ll continue to improve all the elements until I have light, composition and moment just right, to create a strong image that I’m proud of.

To summarise. If I’m photographing something

1. Get the light right first, my go to is light from the front. 2. Get your composition and framing right – clear the clutter and turn on portrait mode if you have this on your phone. And 3, If you are documenting an image wait for the right moment, or if you are taking a portrait like the shots above then interact with your subject to relax them and snap when the time is right.

Hers a few more images from this photoshoot. They are all photographed on my Iphone 11 and edited in the Adobe Lightroom ap.