Outdoors in the hour before sunset or after sunrise, next to a large window indoors, right at the edge of open shade- these are all situations that are commonly suggested to beginners when they are looking for great light. When you are ready to move beyond the basics, however, a myriad of possibilities awaits!
When I was first starting out, I would have never considered staging a photo session in a bathroom. The harsh overhead light, small and oddly placed (often higher than is normal throughout the rest of a house) windows and lack of space seemed to indicate that bathrooms were one location I didn’t need to figure out, photographically. But, as (sometimes) happens, I was wrong. Many of my favorite images have been created in bathrooms. That overhead light? When combined with water/steam/shooting through glass, it is actually quite magical, especially if converted to B&W. The small windows? They offer unique light that isn’t found elsewhere and challenge me with opportunities for creative subject positioning and expression. The small confines of most bathrooms can be difficult, but the work necessary to find a purposeful shooting angle pays off.
The dustier and creepier, the better! One of my favorite locations for creating moody portraiture is in my parents’ basement. It is unfinished and has open crawl space bordering the fully enclosed rooms and central hallway. So, it is slightly damp, dusty and spiders find it to be a peaceful, perfect home. My mom pleads with me to keep my camera out of the basement, but I think it is an awesome space and I wish I had one in my own home (sorry, Mom!) When photographing in the low light offered by basements, be sure to consider the emotional tone of the imagery you intend to capture. Happy, bright, cheeky subjects do not compliment the moodiness of basements as well as subjects with more serious expression and body language do.
- No.03Inside your vehicle
The roof on most vehicles automatically blocks the direct overhead light of the sun to create a directional light situation, which can be impossible to find under an open sky. Consider shooting to either purposefully include or exclude the scene outside the window, as suits your intended vision for the final image.
If you’re interested in learning more about working with light indoors, I’m teaching a 4-week workshop at Click Photo School, called Mastering Natural Light Indoors, that starts on May 2nd. Come join us!