09 Mar

Finding the Light

Posted by Jenna, Under Photography

One of the reasons why I wanted to move from our last apartment to this one, was the increase in natural light. Someday I look forward to living in a home, where light enters the living space from four sides instead of one (I guess we do have on window on the side of the apartment so almost two), but I do my best to be content with what we have now.

Living in this space means I have to look harder to find well lit spots for taking photos. I thought I would show you a few of my favorites for the still life shots I create for the blog, in hopes that it might inspire those of you who are feeling frustrated by your own still life photo adventures at home. For those of you who are posting photos of food you’ve cooked, try moving your dishes to different areas in the house that have natural light (if you are taking your photos during the day of course!) if you have a dark kitchen like I do.

First, the two spots I use in the living room.

This cupcake photo was taken in the chair spot.

And I took this stroller shot out on the porch spot.

I don’t take photos in the kitchen very often because the lighting is so awful, but when I do I’ll try to use the edge of the counter that gets the most light.

I took this garlic photo there.

Sometimes I take photos in the office, and when I do I’ll usually lay some fabric down on this black table (fabric bought on sale at JoAnns).

I took this picture of our kitchen scale in the office spot.

Lately I’ve been taking most of my photos in our bedroom, it has two windows and so the light wraps around the objects a bit better.

This shot of my Paloma’s nest bowl was taken on the top of our dresser. I clear the dresser off frequently and use it for photos for That Wife.

Sometimes, if I am working with larger items, I’ll set things on our bedspread and use the bed as a shooting location.

I’ve also been using the top of our laundry hampers when I want a bit more of a neutral background.

These cookie photos were taken on top of the hamper.

I struggled for a long time to find a good spot for my week-by-week belly photos, and I recently found that our bedroom is the best place to do so (if you look at the shot of our room above, I’m posing to the right of the big black mirror).

Of course my preference for photos of people is to do them outside whenever possible. I dragged That Husband outside with me for this shot and we found a nice little spot right outside our apartment door. Look how little my belly was back then!

Hopefully this tour helped inspire you to find some better spots for photos in your own apartment!

21 Comments


  1. I think your posts shows the real difficulty; finding the balance between the right light and the right neutral (or not) background.Sometimes you have a spot with the greatest light but it’s quite some work to move things around so you don’t see the clutter or textures around the item.

    Anyhow, it sounds like you dream to have a house more than an appartement.

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  2. We have lots of windows – but our apartment faces north so the light is still very meager. I usually take my amateur photos on the kitchen table, right in front of the window.

    I can’t wait for a house with light from all sides. If not for my (very amateur) photos, then at least for my spindly plants and my own mental health. Someday!

    Kelli Nicole Reply:

    North facing light is every photographers dream!! I want a room in my (future) house that has lots of north facing windows to use as a natural light studio.

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  3. Our house has poor light, but to be honest with you I hadn’t really thought about carrying things from the kitchen to the living room to get good light. Oops.

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  4. I use my bed and bedspread for shots of objects too! It has good light and I love the pattern on my bedspread. I put the boys there for pictures and in the nursery it can get good light for those purposeful pictures, but the living room/office area is probably where we spend most of our time and it has awful light.

    I’ve been trying to decide what my next purchase should be…a better lens (which may or may not require that I upgrade from my D40, I’m not sure) or a Speedlite flash. As much as I love natural light and hate using the flash, when we’re indoors and I want to take an impromptu picture of the boys (who of course don’t find good light before doing some funny or cute!), I’d like to have it at least come out more natural and less blurry (what happens when I stubbornly refuse to use my flash).

    In my situation, what would your vote be for what I buy next??

    Kelli Nicole Reply:

    I’ll let Jenna answer too, but in MY opinion I would say to probably get a flash. Check craigslist (we JUST bought one from there for a good deal) and maybe get an older model since you’ll probably just use it on automatic so you don’t need anything fancy, and then maybe you can still afford a new lens before too long! Just make sure you point it to the ceiling or a nearby wall so that it bounces (unless you’re outside of course)

    While you’ll be able to use a great lens in low light situations, if your boys are doing something cute at night or it’s just too dark, the flash will probably be a better choice. Good luck!

    Jenna Reply:

    Kelli is smarter than I am so take her advice. :) I do agree though. I’ll probably be a attaching my speedlite to my camera once baby starts crawling around and I want to take pictures of unposed moments.

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  5. Oh and p.s….I’m looking forward to your ‘due date’ post. It’s funny to me that women hold so strongly to those dates as Gospel truth. Like you, I think it’s smart to think of your due date as more of a time period in a month (beginning, middle, end) rather than a specific, exact date.

    …unless this isn’t how you think and I’ve gotten it all wrong. Regardless, it’s what I think:)

    Evelyn Reply:

    I agree Katy! I’m pregnant and due early June, and when my husband announced it (during a talk at our ward) he said late May. My mouth about dropped!! I don’t want anyone thinking the baby should be here even EARLIER than the “expected” due date! =D

    I, personally, get a little annoyed with all the expectations that one should be impatient and ready for the baby to be out when the due “date” is still 2-3 weeks away. It certainly doesn’t help a mom want to go to term.

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  6. Great post Jenna! I’m so lucky to have a kitchen and dining area that has tons of window and natural light, which is why most of the posts involve food. Unfortunately, I do most of my cooking in the middle of the night, and my desserts don’t make it often to the next day so I can get a good picture of it! ha!

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  7. We have light issues in our house as well as we only have windows on one side. Thankfully, it is west facing, so we’re able to catch more light in the afternoon/evening, but I’m also looking forward to when we can move to a place with more natural light. A house with a sun room would be ideal. :)

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  8. Thanks for this encouragement to find better light and take better pictures. I definitely am guilty of taking pictures without good light. Especially for my blog, I often blog at night and want to take the picture as the thought occurs. It’s having the patience to wait for good light.

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  9. These are all such wonderful and creative ideas! I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open for well lit spots around my own house.

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  10. are you going to show your maternity shots soon??

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  11. I have the same issues! We live in a condo, so we have light coming in on three sides (the fourth side touches another condo) but there are huge trees and it’s often very dark. I usually prop things up right next to a window or in my small yard. If I had my way, I’d have a house covered in windows and skylights!

    Katy: I did invest in the Speedlite 580 and I bounce it off of my off-white ceiling and get BEAUTIFUL photos in my house. I also hate the flash look and avoid shooting with it pretty much ever, but the look of it reflected off of my ceiling is really divine and don’t look “flashy” at all. I think it looks like a studio lighting setup, myself.

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  12. Our studio is sort of like a long narrow cave – we have one skinny wall facing north with a big window, but most of the light doesn’t really make it to the back. I don’t think about the light situation nearly enough when I take pictures inside, but this post is a good reminder to stay close to the window.

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  13. I have to figure out the best place in my house for photos. we have such little natural light (it’s kinda like I live in a cave). Thanks for the inspiration to find the right spots!!

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  14. I have rarely thought, while taking a picture of food, to move it to a window. Now that you mentioned it, the thought will be more likely to cross my mind! Thanks! =)

    I too love light and am now in dire straights due to lack of it… we live in a basement quasi-apartment. We have windows on every side of us, but they are small and few in number. I am anxiously awaiting the day we move into a house or real apartment (cross-your-fingers for this fall when we hope Chris will start law school).

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  15. What a great and wonderful post thanks! I need to look for a better lite area to take pictures.

    BTW I love the curls in your hair in the above pregnancy shot!

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  16. I also wish I had more light at home. I’ve been known to take a plate of cupcakes to the futon in the office to take advantage of the light.. while my husband is in there on a conference call. He looked pretty confused as to why I was taking picture of cupcakes while he was working :)

    On another note, I’m jealous of how much space you have in your apartment! City living is not so spacious.

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  17. I always run into the unfortunate problem that I’m just not home when it is light out! I’m out the door by 7am and usually not home until 8pm… so I have no choice but to take my food photography under harsh lighting conditions. Sadly, I don’t think that will change with moving, since my career path does not lend to being home during daylight. :(

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