Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Photography Notes: Pictures Taking 1

So today I'm continuing with my little series of photography. Next week was supposed to be photo editing, but I think I'll make it part II of picture taking.  This week will be about lighting and next week will be about layout.

So Lighting.  Lighting is a pretty big deal, of course.  Without good lighting you won't have a good picture.  My first essential advice is Turn Off Your Flash.  Even if you have a point and shoot.  Once you do this you will find you like your pictures better immediately.   I almost never ever use my flash unless I'm in a very dark place and want to document something family-wise just for memory's sake.

Now if you don't have a flash you need a light source from somewhere.  
Of course you can go outside, which I often do. 

 For really lovely lighting I take pictures an hour about an hour before sunset.  This the time I've done all my photo sessions for Everyday Photography.

 Except for this session, which I did about midday.  Midday light can easily be too intense and cause harsh lighting and shadows on the face, but we took all of these under the shade of a tree. 

 But then, we can't take all our photos outside. Memories are being made indoors all the time! So we need to make the most of the natural sunlight we get inside of our home.  No lamps, in my opinion, as they will make your pictures unnaturally yellow.

Start by observing what time of day you get the best light in every room in your home. 
Once you know this you can plan picture-taking around this. 

For example, I know I get good light late morning from my South-facing windows.  So I when we made cookies together, I had us do it late-morning around our table, scooted close to the window. 

I planned a tea party near the South facing windows in our Sunroom.

 Because, my kitchen counters are mostly in the shadows, I often take my food pictures out near these South-facing windows as well.  Are you shocked?

 I also love the Northern Light.  I don't have big windows, so I open my front door like I did here to brighten this indoor photo of my front entry.

In this photo I put the chair right next to our open front door.

Wide open front door for this picture too.

I don't have any West or East facing windows, but this was taking at a client's home with the bench pulled up close to their large West facing window about an hour before sunset. 

I hope this is somewhat helpful!   Feel free to leave a question in the comments and I'll try my best to answer.  

Next Wednesday I'll share some layout tips to make your pictures more dynamic and visually pleasing.  Until then, I hope you get out your camera {and turn off the flash!}, and capture lots of lovely moments. : )

First Part of this series {HERE}


  1. So good to know you move your stuff to the window! I have been doing that more and more and feeling a bit silly. But, it looks so much better! Thanks for the tips!

  2. these are some really great tips! thanks, Cailan! and BEAUTIFUL pics too :-)

  3. Thank you so much for the great tips they are really helpful, I'm trying to learn as much as I can:)


  4. thanks for the tips! i move stuff by my windows too...especially now that i have almost NO natural light in my house. boo. but i can get good ones if i rearrange a bit :)

  5. this is SO helpful to me, Cailan!
    i still need a better camera, but your advice can help me through. :)
    thank you!
    lovely pics, as usual! :)

  6. Excellent advice!! I would add that to get rid of some shadows on faces for outdoor portraits, I sometimes have subjects sit on a white sheet, that bounces some light back onto their faces. Love your photography. BTW, I am getting a new camera and I can't wait!

  7. I am a card-carrying, charter member of the Turn Off Your Flash Club. Well said, you. And I love your photographs.

  8. i love your photography, you have a brilliant eye :)
    love love this series you're doing! thank you so much for sharing
    your wisdom!