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Capturing your kids: light

Let’s talk about a key factor in photography: light. If you’re just joining in, catch up by reading through the previous posts in our series here:

Some thoughts on light

Natural light

simple mom | photography series

Natural light is found in the sun; it is not produced by lights. This can be found outside as well as inside. When indoors, you’ll find natural light peeking through windows and doors.

Using natural light is preferred by many who love photography simply because the tones are much more natural and quite pretty.

Direct light

simple mom | photography series

Harsh light causes unflattering shadows. This happens when you’re shooting in direct light. A clear, bright, day about noon, will result in very direct light. The sun is hanging over head with nothing to filter it and in turn, will hit your subject hard. This results in dark shadows on their face, as well as squinty eyes.

You have a few options for this type of situation:

  • Shoot in the best light.
    The ‘golden hours’ are known as sunrise and sunset, when the sun isn’t directly overhead but instead is rising and setting. You’re then able to turn your subject so that the sun is behind them, or beside them, and they have softer, more even light on their face.
  • Move around.
    Since the sun isn’t going anywhere (until it begins to set), you can either move your subject around or move yourself around. Change position slightly until you see the shadows lessen and more even light spread across their face.
  • Take cover.
    Look around for any sort of shade: a tree, building, playground or umbrella, just to name a few. Anywhere that you can find enough indirect light to cover the entire subject.

InDirect light

simple mom | photography series

Indirect light is filtered, diffused light. It’s much more flattering and far easier to work with.

Inside your home are endless options for indirect lighting. Near the sliding glass door, big windows (with blinds open or curtains pulled back), or even the front door if it is wide open. As long as the light isn’t streaming directly in, you will have some wonderful indirect light.

If the light happens to be directly coming in, find a way to soften it a bit by adding sheer curtains or closing the blinds a bit.

Make it work for you

simple mom | photography series

Are you tired of endless photos of your children squinting at the sun and shadows covering their darling faces? Be mindful of your light.

Perhaps you’re in a direct lighting situation with the glaring sun upon you? Move around a bit, find something to filter out that sun. Run around behind and yell for them to turn towards you.

simple mom | photography series

If you’re inside push open your curtains. Let some gorgeous light fill the room and move your kids, or yourself, until you see the light hit them just right.

Remember the best way to learn and grow as a photographer is to practice, practice, practice. Keep shooting, keep searching, keep trying.

Do you struggle with finding the light?

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    “Run around behind them and yell for them to turn toward you.”

    Great tip! Will do it. 🙂

  2. Jackie

    I have enjoyed this series. I love taking pictures and would really like to improve. These tips should help. Thanks!

  3. Jessica

    Thank you Angie, really enjoying this photography series. It’s coincided perfectly with the arrival of my first child, 4 months ago and so far has helped me to capture some really lovely shots.

  4. Kate @Wild Tales of...

    Thanks for sharing your tips on the lighting–something I struggle a lot when taking photos, and sometimes forget about until later on when I actually look at the shot closely. These ideas are really simple & easy to apply right away.
    Is there anything to keep in mind when shooting by water in terms of light?

  5. Breanne

    This is one of my favourite areas and why I love photography so much- the LIGHT! I don’t always remember the other details but if I chase the light (and adjust the F stop etc by fiddling with them to remember them), I get much better results.

    Also, your IG feed never ceases to inspire and look for the light.

  6. Sher

    wondering what pier that is taken under? 🙂

  7. Amanda {The Scarlet Paisley}

    Ooh, la la – I loved this post! I’ve been playing with my camera for over a year now (I still have SO much to learn) and it’s fun to try new things and improve! Thanks!

  8. Homeschool Planet

    Great post. I take all my pics with my phone and they nearly always look terrible. I keep thinking I need to use a better camera but I could probably just work with the lighting.

  9. Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake

    I think this might be my favorite post of this series yet. I need to utilize some of these tips, especially avoiding direct light . . . and not only when photographing my daughter. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your advice and experience! This series has been so helpful for me.

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