family photographer Wandsworth - toddler crib

Choosing where to take photographs in your home

“We were amazed at Louise’s ability to help us make the most of the space in our flat. We were thrilled with the photos and would highly recommend her.” Jonathon

Will my home be ok for family photos?

Are you unsure if your home will work for a family photoshoot? What will we do if it’s not a picture-perfect home, if it’s cluttered, small or dark? I totally get that these are very real concerns. Having lived in a North-facing flat, I really empathise!

It’s easy to say that I can always make any home work, but I thought it might be better to show this in action. To give you an idea of how I’d approach a cluttered room, I whizzed round my daughter Zoe’s bedroom to show you where I’d take photographs. Read on for those snaps!

So first things first, the room at first glance (don’t judge me for the mess!):

Choosing where to take photographs in a childs bedroom

Seeing a home as a photographer, not as a parent

OK, we all see that’s a messy room – need to work on that. When I look round a house on a portrait session though, I’m looking with very different criteria. Where’s the best light? What’s the space like? What could we incorporate to take beautiful and meaningful photographs?

As a photographer, here’s what I would see in Zoe’s room:

Choosing where to take photographs in a childs bedroom

Meaningful mess

I reassure parents that there’s no need to go on a massive tidy-up before your portrait session, and this is for good reason. Your belongings are part of your life! They mean something to you, and to your kids. Moving everything around before a portrait session might unsettle your children, but it will also turn your home into a studio. That would be a real shame, as photographing you in your home environment is key to how I work!

My own home is tidy in places: the front room, my room, parts of the kitchen. The rest, I’ve pretty much given in to the crazy mess produced on a daily basis by a creative six-year old! But that mess actually means a lot to me. I love seeing my daughter’s drawings, her toys, the funny little projects everywhere.

Taking photographs in this room

One of the first things that would catch my eye here would be the doll’s house. Getting a child engaged with favourite toys can be a great way to help them relax. This helps me to take lovely, natural photographs of them.

I pulled the doll’s house out and sideways a little so the light would fall across it. Bingo, a lovely scene to photograph:

doll's house - choosing where to take photographs in a childs bedroom

Another area I’d spot is the clear area near the window – ideal for a close-up portrait. Just shifting my weight a bit to get a different viewpoint, I created quite a different backdrop. Within inches of the doll’s house photograph above, I found this viewpoint:

nice light by a bedroom window - choosing where to take photographs in a childs bedroom

Bookshelves and reading nooks make super locations for child portraits. I love capturing little ones reading their favourite stories, it really brings back memories of that particular age. Moving around a bit gives me different viewpoints, and quite different photographs in terms of scene setting or close-up portraits:

reading - choosing where to take photographs in a childs bedroom

Bunting always calls to me! It’s such a sweet part of childhood – so pretty and fun. It can work really well in portraits. Sometimes I’ll show lots of the bunting or (like in the photograph below). Sometimes I’ll include just a bit here and there, to gently frame the face:

bunting - choosing where to take photographs in a childs bedroom

The pink flower lamp above the bed casts a pretty light that I really wanted to incorporate into some photographs! We headed up to the bed level, to take a photograph with that light on. I usually avoid any artificial light in my photographs, but the soft light from children’s lamps can be really atmospheric. I’ll make the most of what I find in your home:

pretty lamp - choosing where to take photographs in a childs bedroom

I decided to use a wide lens so I could incorporate the lamp in a more subtle way. While I was swapping to my second camera, Zoe spotted her diary. Her face lit up, and she started writing. As I would on a portrait session, I encouraged her to get really involved. This led to lots of different expressions, and gave me the opportunity to find lots of interesting angles and viewpoints on the scene:

writing a diary in bed - choosing where to take photographs in a childs bedroom
diary writing in bed

Just in the one room, there was a huge amount of choice as to where I took the photographs.

Mixing up my position and viewpoints, changing lenses for different angles, and getting out different activities always means there are lots of options.

These were just the locations that worked on that particular day, with my daughter in that particular mood. If different toys or activities had caught her attention, we’d have focused on those instead.

Responding to children’s moods and interests keeps me on my toes but is also a huge part of why I love family photography. It’s an opportunity to really capture individual characters, beautifully.

“Our little girl was just over 1 year’s old – having the shoot somewhere she was familiar with and would be comfortable in was key. She loved showing off all her little toys and play things to Louise which made for some lovely shots! Louise was incredibly clever at just taking shots as we went along – she captured some incredibly natural and fun moments.” Jessica

mum and son playing with a train set at home

What to expect