Indoor Photography Tips & Locations

Though you probably prefer to shoot outdoors, there are tons of possibilities for beautiful photographs to be taken indoors as well! Exploring your ability to photograph indoors can be a great way to broaden your skills as a photographer. The ability to take great indoor shots is also great for because you may not always be able to shoot outdoors! If you had a shoot planned for outside, but it rains on the day you are supposed to shoot, you may be forced to change to an indoor location.

Photos taken indoors can be amazing, as long as you know what you’re doing! Keep reading to see some tips on how to make the most of your indoor shoots, as well as some location suggestions!

Choose the Proper Gear and Settings

Indoor Photography Gear

When shooting indoors, you will want to use gear that allows for a compression of your background with a small depth of field. In standard indoor shoots, like family sessions, you will want to create portraits that are crisp and clean, with a visually appealing, blurred, bokeh background.

To achieve this result, consider lenses that will create little to no distortion. Generally, 35mm-50mm lenses will give you this.

When it comes to the settings of your camera and achieving the proper exposure, it will depend on your location. For the most part though, you should count on needing to keep your aperture wide. With a wide aperture, you will likely need to bring your shutter speed down. The exact settings will depend on your camera and your location, but as you play around with what the right settings are, keep in mind that you will need to let in as much light as possible! Even if you have a large window letting in natural light, it still will not be as bright inside as it would be if you were outside and fully exposed to the bright natural light!

Use Your Background to Frame Your Subject

In some scenarios, indoor portraits will be heavily portrait focused and have little very little in the background. For more formal portraits or headshots, or a shot where the subject is meant to be the only focus and only one in the frame, you will want a very plain background!

Other times, though, the space you are shooting in can be incorporated into the shot to add a new level to the shot. The background of the photo can express an idea or tell a story! Before you go into the shoot, make sure you know your subject’s space. Find out if there are any areas or objects that have significance for them and work those into your photos.

You can also use leading lines in brick or tile work or other items in the room to frame your subject and create great composition in your photos.

See Also:
How to Use the Histogram in Lightroom
RAW vs. JPEG: What’s the Difference?
Top 5 Summer Photography Tips

Use Windows for Great Natural Light

Just because you are inside doesn’t mean you won’t have access to any natural light! Windows provide amazing natural, and are a direct light source, but the glass provides just enough diffusion that the light will filter through softly. Even on a rainy day, a window will provide a huge amount of light.

When positioning your subject, avoid having the window behind them, as this you subject will then be backlit and will appear very dark in your photo!

Indoor Portrait

To maximize the light coming in through the window, spend some time in the space beforehand, if possible, so you can see how the light will hit at different times of day. One room may get harsh light in the morning, but by the afternoon it may be bathed in gorgeous indirect light. If you want to take some golden hour shots, find out which rooms have windows that face west, as these windows will provide you with the best lighting for those shots!

Embrace Shadows

Most of this article has talked about how you want to make sure you have set your camera to let in as much light as possible, and to maximize the natural light coming in through the windows, but you should learn to embrace shadows as well!

Shadows can add depth and drama to your photos. To create shadows, you can have your subject turn sideways so the light (either from the window or whatever light source you are using in your shot) so the light only falls on half of them, while the other half of them remains in shadow. You can use existing light fixtures to create light from overhead or other angles and create truly dramatic shadows!

Indoor Portrait with Shadows

Indoor Photoshoot Location Ideas

If you need some location inspiration for your next indoor photoshoot, we have a few ideas for you!

Thrift & Antique Stores

Though the lighting may not be perfect in locations like these, you may find items that inspire you. Thrift and Antique stores are filled with interesting clothing, accessories, furniture, and decor that you can use for a truly creative photo! (Just make sure you ask the shop owner for permission before taking photos or using the items as props!)


Cafés are great for indoor shots because they often have windows to provide soft, natural light, and also have cozy atmospheres. There are so many cafés around you are bound to find one that suits your needs!


Greenhouses are great for when you want to incorporate natural elements in your photos, but the weather just isn’t cooperating. They are also often filled with tropical plants from around the world that you might not find if you were shooting outdoors in your area.

On top of the gorgeous plants you can use as a backdrop, greenhouses are also very well lit!