Shooting good indoor photographs is a lot trickier than shooting in broad daylight. Get things wrong and you may find your photos are blurred or have an unnatural colour cast.
Follow our simple indoor photography tips, however, and your photos stand a much better chance of looking great.
Tip 1 - Use natural light where possible
Natural light from the sun provides a much cleaner light source than artificial light from light bulbs and lamps, so where possible shoot in rooms with large windows that give you plenty of natural light.
Tip 2 - Adjust your white balance
The single biggest way to get better pictures indoors is ensure your camera’s white balance settings are set correctly. This will ensure that objects that appear white in the real world will also look white in your photos.
By getting the white balance right, other colours will also look natural and your photos will be free of unsightly colour casts.
The easiest way to do this, especially at night when you’re shooting solely under artificial lights, is to change your camera’s white balance settings from ‘Automatic’ to ‘Tungsten’.
Tip 3 - Avoid mixed lighting sources
Shooting in a mixture of artificial and natural light can prove especially tricky because the colour temperature of the two sources is quite different (artificial lights are much warmer). This can easily fool the white balance metering systems in digital cameras, resulting in photos with unnatural colour casts picked up from walls or curtains.
The best way to avoid this is to shoot with the lights off during daylight hours – even if it means having to bump up your ISO sensitivity a bit. Alternatively, use a tripod and a slower shutter speed.
Tip 4 - Keep an eye on shutter speed
Speaking of shutter speed, this is another area where indoor shots often fall down in quality. If your camera is set to Automatic and the light isn’t great then your camera may well select too slow a shutter speed, resulting in blurry photos. In order to avoid this happening you have a couple of options: either raise the ISO sensitivity a bit (but not so much that your photos become a noisy, pixelated mess), or place your camera on a tripod. Alternatively, you could also choose to use the built-in flash. On which note…
Tip 5 - Use flash sparingly
Using flash is the most obvious solution when faced with poor light indoors, however it does comes with its own set of problems. The white light it emits can bounce around off beige or magnolia coloured walls, causing unsightly colour casts in your photos.
Built-in front-facing flashguns can also produce unattractively harsh shadows when used indoors, so you may want to consider disabling flash altogether and boosting your ISO sensitivity instead.
Tip 6 - Point your flash upwards
External flash units for DSLR or compact system cameras can be angled through 90 degrees or more, so if you have one, try pointing it upwards to bounce its light off the ceiling. This will help to diffuse the light and make it softer and less prone to producing harsh shadows. This obviously works best with white ceilings, but do watch out for colour hues that might be caused by brightly-coloured painted ceilings.
Tip 7 - Use window light creatively
If you’re shooting a portrait, try positioning your subject so that they are facing into a window, with their face lit by natural light. You don’t have to shoot them straight-on either; three-quarter portraits done in this way can look really impressive.
Tip 8 - Avoid messy backgrounds
If you’re shooting people indoors then try and place them against a wall. Be especially wary of messy, cluttered backgrounds that could distract from the main subject and ruin your image.
Tip 9 - Build a makeshift home studio
If you’re looking to photograph a small object, for example something you intend to sell on eBay, then try making a makeshift home studio rather than just shooting it on the floor or carpet.
All you really need are two sheets of white cardboard or paper. Place one face down on the floor and stand the other at about 90 degrees to it and voila – you have a makeshift home studio that enables you to shoot small objects against a white background.