Indoor photography requires understanding indoor photography basics. You can’t just strap on a new DSLR camera and a lens hood and expect these photos to come out perfectly. You should read all about the basics of the exposure triangle of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. But these tips will help you actually figure out what makes awesome indoor photos.

1. “Scout” light for the subject

DSCF1006 Photography by Ben Shaul 

If you’re shooting food or other still objects, find the best natural light in the space and use that. Turn off the overheads and move the table near the window, for example. Indoor shooting requires you to find available light and get maximum use from it for more natural colors and contrasts. For people, it might be more difficult to stage the right light, even if it’s just your family, because you want to “capture a moment” of authenticity. Instead, you should pay attention to the direction, intensity, and color of the light to choose the best camera settings, and orient yourself so that you are at an angle to the natural light options and the faces of your subjects.

2. Shoot in “burst mode”

Excellent photographers take dozens of photos for every shot they like. You should expect to take even more. Burst mode, also called continuous firing mode, lets you hold down the shutter button to snap several photos, slightly more than one per second. Any time you are shooting action or people and you want to capture emotions on their faces, this is a great way to increase your chances of capturing a perfect shot, with everyone’s face looking good and in focus. It basically gives you more chances for very small details to line up correctly.

This is important for awesome indoor photos because contrast and natural skin tones pose a significant challenge, and small changes in the angle of a person’s face are often enough to capture more light and natural skin tones.

3. Prioritize one setting to build your exposures

Most DSLR cameras have aperture priority and shutter speed priority modes, which make it easy to tell your camera what’s more important. Evaluate the setting and decide if a fast shutter speed, good bokeh, or a deeper depth of field, or minimizing noise is the priority. For example, if you have lots of natural light and are shooting a child playing, then you should prioritize crisp focus. In this case shutter speed and ISO are the most important settings. If you know that ahead of time, it’s easier to fix the primary setting and then change your ISO and aperture as necessary.

4. Relax and don’t “chimp”

Many of the best indoor photos come from casual gatherings with friends; they’re about capturing the moment. You have to relax and get comfortable using a camera – a lot – to be ready to capture that moment when it happens without sacrificing the pleasure of being in the moment. One way to make the camera less obtrusive is to stop “chimping,” meaning checking your viewfinder after every shot. The process is abrupt, the same way a person burying their face in a smart phone interrupts the flow of a conversation. Minimizing this to create a more natural feel increases the opportunities you will have to capture that awesome indoor photo.

5. When in doubt, stop down to blur the background

DSC00555 Photo by Photographer Ben Shaul 

One of the things that makes for less-than-awesome indoor photos is the weird stuff in the background. Chairs, half-open doors, and shoes on the floor can spoil a shot. If you have enough light, a tripod or a still subject, or don’t mind photo noise, stopping down the aperture to blur out the background with a narrow depth of field is an easy fix for this that simplifies composition.

DSLR cameras are awesome tools for great photos because they accommodate several skill levels. Use these tips to take advantage of their flexible settings for incredible indoor photos.


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