“Last year I took photos of this family of four when they welcomed a new baby. This year, that little boy turned one and we did a session at their home right before the holidays. The session was held in the middle of the day, and we had nice strong midday winter light.”
Roxanne’s Photography Tip:
My main goal during an in-home session is to let families unfold naturally, with their chemistry and groove leading the way. But there is no denying that directing them to the right light is crucial for visually rich photos.
In the beginning of this session, we let the children play in their playroom, roam outside, listen to stories, and jump on their bed – allowing for many playful, unstructured moments.
But before calling the session, I took one last roam around the house and found a pocket of strong light streaming in the dining room window.
I had passed this room on my first round of the house because it felt too formal to let two very small children feel at ease. But on second sighting, I trusted my hunch and we turned one of their big overstuffed chairs into the light for some portraits.
The pocket of light was quite strong, even with gauzy curtains giving us some shield. I wanted to honor the light and let it illuminate their faces, but needed to balance it against the deep shadows it was also creating.
By keeping my ISO between 800 and 1000, I was able to still shoot wide open at 1.4 and get a good range between the glowing pocket and detail in the shadows. Next, I switched to manual focus, which I love to do after taking a few shots on auto.
Doing this gives me greater control while forcing my eye to slow down and be more experimental and selective – resulting in moodier, softer shots – which I love.
For the final photos in this light, we took the chair and put it across the room to get the light facing the window. This light was predictably flatter and more even, and felt like a good way to finish up the series.
I don’t usually set families into poses, yet the images here from the last 10 minutes of session ended up being my favorite. By trying something new and taking a small risk with the stronger light, I was able to offer this family some classic portraits with a bit of a modern twist.
It was a good reminder to take creative risks, even with clients.
Roxanne used a Nikon D700 (affiliate link) with a Nikon 35mm 1.4 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.
If you’re new to in-home sessions (or want to get started), take a few lessons from a pro like Kirsten Lewis to help get the ball rolling.