Photography Tips for Better Indoor Photos

by SomeGirl on February 1, 2011 · 22 comments

Ok, as promised, here are some of the photography tips I learned at Blissdom… Are you ready??

For better indoor photos:

1. NEVER use the on-camera flash… NEVER!

(unless, possibly, you use a Light Scoop or diffuser… I don’t have one so I can’t speak to that).

taken with on-camera flash

2. Find the light.

There is always some light in a room. Find it.

flash turned off… there is a good amount of natural light

Then make sure the light is falling on your subject… this might require you to move your subject or for you to move… Use your feet (you’ll hear this over and over again).

moving to the other side to get the light shinging on my subjects (use your feet)

3. Lower your Aperture... the lower the aperture number, the more light the lens takes in. Most of the women teaching the class use an aperture (fstop) of 2.8 for their indoor shooting.

If your camera only goes down to an fstop of 4.0 you can “cheat the system” by zooming your lens closer to your object and walking back to get your subject in frame (Use your feet).

(fyi… I don’t remember the proper term when you zoom to make the object closer in appearance… does anyone know if it’s “zooming out” or “zooming in?”)

And, if you want to get a lower aperture, consider buying a 50 prime lens… it’s $100 and has an f-stop of 1.8 (I heard it called a “low light lens”).

4. Use a higher ISO (try 400, 800, 1600, or even 3200 if your camera offers it… take a few shots in each setting to see which works best  for your lighting situation).

The higher the ISO the more grainy your photo will be, but if your camera takes large photos (8+ megapixels) you can resize your image and take away a lot of the noise (grain).

cross section of original image at 100% shot at 1600 ISO

same image downsized to fit this post

5. If you have photo editing software that allows you to process RAW files, by all means shoot in RAW mode… you can do amazing things in Adobe Photoshop to change the light and exposure!

jpeg shot at night club like party at Blissdom (no flash, ISO 1600, f-stop 4.0, zoomed)

RAW photo edited for better light (I'm not a professional, so don't judge the processing)

6. If you want to know how most of the “pros” in the class shoot indoors, the resounding answer was…

Aperture Mode (AV on a Canon and A on a Nikon)

f-stop 2.8

ISO 400

But, if you’re shooting stock photography, it’s a little different story… (I’ll get into that soon!).

Btw, I found a GREAT site that got me interested in actually moving away from auto mode…

Brooke at got a nice DSLR for Christmas and is journaling (journalling?) all that she learns along the way. And, funny enough, her inspiration for taking photos came from reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp – the same book I’m giving away to one fortunate reader this week! (click here to enter)

I was antsy to get this out and posted twice in one day… if you missed the earlier post, I shared fun photos from Blissdom, you can click here to see them. :)


Dawn @ Two-Handed Mommy

These are all things that I have learned at one point or another..but such a good reminder! I have been taking very few photos lately…just feeling busy and we’re always inside in the winter. I’m inspired to get out the camera and just shoot now – thank you!!


Yay! Glad you were inspired to do that! :) Your snow tree picture is beautiful and your little toe picture is SO sweet, btw! ♥


Loved your post. Printed it. Saving it in my camera bag!! Thank you.


Wow! What a compliment… thanks, Wendy! Hope it helps!! ♥


Wow, Michelle! It’s funny–literally this last month or so, I thought to myself, “I need to learn to take better pictures.” I don’t know anything–not the terms or the numbers or really anything you mentioned. You’ve given me a place to start!

Thanks for sharing!


Yes! It’s SO much FUN! (although I have spiritual/photography confessions coming in today’s post)

I’m planning on doing more lessons here, so I’ll include one on what the terms and numbers mean just for you! (and whoever else might be interested) ;)



So many good tips from that workshop, no? I still have a goal to put up some of my learnings but … haven’t quite gotten to it yet. I will. However, I totally missed the zooming and walking back thing to cheat the aperture. I’m assuming you still hold the button down halfway so it doesn’t reset? I will have to experiment with that one since mine definitely only goes down to 3.5. And I WANT that fixed lens. Although after learning more, of course I want the 50 1.4 lens ($350) v the 50 1.8 lens ($100) – which means I won’t get either! :) Thanks so much for sharing!


Yes! So many good tips (and so many GREAT people)!

And, like you, I totally left the class wanting the 1.4 lens, but my husband already had the 1.8… it works well. But a newer Rebel and a 1.4 are definitely on my “save up for” list!

About the focusing and zooming I’m not sure. I have just zoomed and then focused… I’ll have to try it the other way to see.

It was GREAT to meet you, btw!


Great tips (and pics)! :) I feel famous… I made it into two of your post-Blissdom posts! ;)


Hehe… famous, eh?! ;) You made a GREAT Blissdom photography model!

It was SO nice to see you again!! ♥


Aw, thanks! It was great to see you again too!! Relevant ’11 can’t get here fast enough!


THANK YOU! Uh, sorry for shouting, but I have previously tried to find these kinds of details without much luck. Decent indoor photography is so challenging. I had sorted out some of it on my own, but these tips (especially #3) are so helpful! I definitely want to know the stock-photographer angle as well, and am looking forward to that post! Thanks Michelle!


YAY!! I’m SO glad you found this helpful!! I will definitely share stock photography tips… I actually have a fun plan in mind that I’ll blog about SOON!

I can’t wait to see you at The Mom Heart Conference!! ♥

Betsy at Zen Mama

I am constantly working on my photography skills, too. That’s so interesting about the flash. I’ll work on light and changing my aperuture. So often I just use automatic.
Glad you had such a good time. I’m thinking about going to Blogher in San Diego…..just thinking but thinking all the same.


So… have you tried changing your aperture?? I’d LOVE to see some of your shots! I really do need to start a flickr group for all of us to share our shots! Oh, that reminds me… Ali at An Ordinary Mom has a Saturday link up for sharing photos. She’s a sweet friend from Relevant, you’d like her! (

Btw, I’ve not heard many good things about Blogher… I’m sure lots of people like it and it’s great, but most people who went to it and Blissdom said they MUCH prefer Blissdom… Blogher was TOO big for them (for what that’s worth).

I personally LOVED Blissdom, but I’d go next year expecting it to be more social and less technical. And I’d LOVE it if you went, too!!! ♥

Ashley @ It's Fitting

This is great! I need to get some other lenses, because I find that not being able to open it up all the way is annoying. But, I do what i can with the equipment that I have… they do say that a great picture can come from ANY camera… as long as the operator knows what the hell they are doing :-) I’m working on that part.
I’m trying to find out if my FIL’s flash will work with my camera… might be fun to try indoor photography with that bad boy too!


Increasing your iso or clicking continuously with higher iso can damage your sensor,,,,,,,,,,i also prefer to click with high iso but am concerned about sensor and noise,,,,,,,,


Thanks, Jay! I had never heard that… definitely something to keep in mind and learn more about. Thanks again!

dites ouistiti

There is a problem with the digital ISO. Luckily there are now editing software programs that specifically eliminate noise and sharpen a photograph taken under questionable conditions.


There is no problem with shooting at a high ISO. Maybe if you shoot at the sun. Most entry level cameras probably shouldn’t be shot at higher than 1600. Too much noise after that. Even Lightroom 4 can’t clean up that much noise. Some cameras let you set your ISO setting on auto and in the camera settings you put in the max you want it to go.

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Purchase the uninitiated, the curve with chromecast will.


What iso and appeture to use outdoor shoot and indoor shoot
Nature and models

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