When you Google about photographing indoors, one of the most unmistakable feelings you come away with is that you can’t do it with your existing equipment. Kit lenses aren’t ‘fast’, they don’t shoot in a wide open f/1.4, you don’t have a big external flash. All of these things can leave you feeling helpless to take great photos indoors. The catch with kids is that they move fast so a slow shutter speed isn’t always an option. Or maybe it is? Here are my 5 top tips for photographing children indoors using your existing equipment:
Shutter speed – I used to think I couldn’t capture motion with anything less than 1/100th. But at times, 1/60th has been just fine. Test and see how slow you can actually go.
Aperture – Open it up as much as possible. Most lenses will allow a more open aperture when zoomed all the way out (wide) than when zoomed all the way in (long) so don’t zoom in if you want to maintain an open aperture to let in enough light. Kit lenses often suffer from distortion at their widest settings, but you can fix that in Photoshop like this easily.
ISO – For newbies to shooting in manual, there’s a setting called ISO. The higher up you go in number, the more sensitive your sensor is to the light. You can go from 100 to 12,000 on some cameras. On entry level DSLRs, 1000 is a pretty safe area to stick around unless you’re ready for some ‘noise’ in your photos which manifest themselves as grain. And this grain can be shocking at 100%, but don’t pixel peep. Try printing some photos taken at really high ISOs and see how they look.
Light – Add light to a dim room. Floor lamps, overhead light, windows. We want to get away from using the pop-up flash as much as you possibly can so see what light you can add. And try to keep them the same light temperature. That is, don’t bring fluorescent (cold) light into a room with general household lights or window light (warm).
Modify your pop up – I use something called a LightScoop indoors. It’s an amazing and surprisingly cheap little gizmo for dispersing the light from your pop-up so you don’t end up with deer-caught-in-headlights look.
If you do find yourself wanting to explore other lenses, many photographers have had great luck with the ‘nifty fifty’ 50mm f/1.8. It costs less than $100 and is a fun place to start exploring with wide open apertures.