Life At Home: Photographing People in Their Spaces

Life At Home: here's 5 easy tips that will help you perfect photographing people in their spaces.

Life At Home: Photographing People in Their Spaces

Life At Home

Photographing People In Their Spaces

In-home sessions serve some of the most precious memories for clients. They’re real, raw, gritty, and inspiring. I took my best friend, Maggie, and danced around her apartment for some deep insight into taking gorgeous at-home photographs to shed light on this very subject. What kinds of activities should you prioritize? What’s the right light around certain areas of the house and what should my settings be to get the vibe dialed?

Here’s 5 easy tips that will help you answer all of these questions (and more).

Moment Tele 58mm Lens — perfect for capturing in-home sessions.

Plan An Activity

This is it. If you were to take away just one tip from this entire article, it’s this one. Planning an activity will bring forth a whole new wave link to your photography. It’s the difference between just sitting on the couch versus the dynamic of making coffee in your kitchen. With my friend, Maggie, I’ve demonstrated the dynamic range you’ll acquire when telling your subject to do something that they do every day inside their home. For Maggie, it was to 1.) make coffee, 2.) put makeup on in an artistic manner, 3.) putting on a record, 4.) reading on the couch, and 5.) napping (ha). These are all fantastic ways to grab lovely, non-staged candid images to your portfolio. Make breakfast, bathe your baby, do an art project, or photograph an entire morning routine.

Shot on the 58mm Tele Lens.

Skin tones on point.

Skin tones on point.

Light Mill Make or Break Your Image

Lighting is one of the most critical aspects to photographing indoor subject matter; it can throw off your whole look if it doesn’t look right. Whatever indoor situation you’re shooting in, you’ll want to have your ISO set to the lowest number possible. Remember the rule: the higher the number, the higher the grain; the lower the number, the lower the grain. For optimal results, get close to something that allows outside light in — the more natural, the better. This will enable you to keep your ISO at the lowest number possible to avoid any unwarranted noise. Plus, window light looks gorgeous on camera.

Top down views.


Sneaky bedroom scenes.

Shot on Pixel 3 - Simple, elegant, crisp.

Bedrooms Are Key

Clients will often instinctively suggest living rooms for the central portion of pictures, but honey — that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Bedrooms are where the magic happens; this is where humans spend 8-10 hours (or more) of their day. It’s viable to capture the essence of comfort and serenity, which usually means the place where you sleep and get ready for the day. When you’re working with children, more specifically, master bedrooms are often where they feel most comfortable because that’s where you’ll get awesome whole-family shots. Kids’ rooms tend to reflect the personality more than any other place inside the house, too. Plus, in reference to tip #3, bedrooms offer excellent light.

Shawn the sheepdog!

Is this setup cool or what?

Ariana and Shawn!

Let Them Dress Casually

The more casual, the better. Let the outfits be a product of their environment, allow your models to get comfortable in their setting, and have them dress appropriately for what they think they’d wear in that setting. I find that neutral tones tank tops, shorts, linen pants, or coverups do super well in these environments. Let their personality speak through; this is their chance to show off their favorite pajamas.

Glossier model, anyone?

Taken on Portrait Mode on the iPhone X.

Bedrooms are key.

Maggie with her tea.

Take Your Time

I’ve noticed that these types of in-home sessions are the most time consuming of shoots. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case, though maybe it’s because you end up talking with your client like their your friends (or perhaps because they are your friends). The point is to let it happen. The goal is to avoid feeling rushed; get to know the space you’re in and capture your subject with ease and comfort. Drink a cup of coffee on the kitchen counter, laugh with them about their favorite TV shows, and let the kiddos play their games. Stop photographing mid-way through and chat mid-session to wait for the person to be ready for the next photo. Take your time.

Taken on the Wide Lens for extra perspectives.

Capture stunning details to tell the story.

Top down views.

Turn Up The Music!

I saved the best for last. If you want to spice up your images with good-loving candid fun, then turn up the music and let the mood set in for itself. This allows for zero awkward minutes of silence, too, since there’s constant sound in the background. Before you begin the shoot, explain that you want to capture those in-between moments, that you want them to be continually moving without having to tell them to stop. This will help you invest in the shoot, rather than having to always “direct” the whole time.

Up-close shot on Portrait Mode on the iPhone X.

Happy Shooting!

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