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Photographing In-Home Family Sessions | TKP Education

by Morgan Lee Williams

In-home photo sessions can be intimidating if they’re not the norm for you as a photographer. What if you walk into a totally cluttered disaster of a home with horrible light? I get it. It has the potential to be a complete disaster. In my opinion, though, in-home sessions can also be your best opportunity to create true to life images that capture the heart and soul of who a family is. So let’s unpack how you can make them happen with ease.

Prep your client!

Honestly, there’s a solid chance that you will walk into a disaster of a home if you don’t properly prep your client. Communicate with your client ahead of time and let them know that you’ll need them to clear the clutter from the rooms you’ll be using for your session. Suggest grabbing a laundry basket and throwing all of the things they don’t want showing up in their pictures in the basket. Sure, you can move things here and there throughout their session, but this will take care of the bulk of it!

Use the rooms with the best light.

This is the easiest way to make the biggest difference in your in-home photos, and it’s also the one thing I see a lot of photographers miss. Naturally, we first think to use the living room or main bedroom. But if those rooms don’t have light shining through the windows, STAY AWAY! Typically, there will be one side of the house where the light is coming through the windows. Stay on this side of the house as much as possible - no matter what rooms you’re working with. I’ve photographed 90 percent of a newborn session in the dining area of a kitchen, because that was where the good light was. It may seem unconventional, and maybe it is, but this will make a huge difference in the outcome of your photos!

Turn off all artificial lights.

Speaking of light, turn off all lamps and overhead lighting. In fact, I even recommend turning off hallway lights if the artificial light can be seen from the room you’re working in. Mixing natural light from the window with artificial light from a lamp or chandelier can be a nightmare when it comes time to edit - especially with perfecting skin tones. If the room isn’t bright enough to shoot in without artificial light, that’s a sure sign to move into a different room!

Plan an activity.

Get to know the family beforehand. What do they love doing together? When are they happiest as a family? Find out, and incorporate one of those elements into their session! This is sometimes the easiest way to willingly engage kids and get more natural interactions from the entire family. Not to mention, you’re able to provide the family with photos of them engaging in something that’s really special to them now and will be even more special to them years from now.

Think outside of the box when it comes to posing.

One of my favorite things about in-home sessions is the opportunity to get more creative with posing. We’re not in the middle of a field with no structures to play off of. There are couches, countertops, chairs, windowsills, tables, stairs and doorways at your disposal, and I encourage you to use them! Don’t simply default to piling everyone on the bed or a couch. Arrange your subjects on different levels and make it more true to life!

Shooting inside your clients’ homes can be a difficult shift, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the better you become at squeezing the most out of each session. Start by incorporating these tips into your workflow for your in-home family sessions, and watch the magic start to seep through your photos. I promise it’s a shift you’ll be happy you made!

by Morgan Lee Williams


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