Indoor photography can be tough. You’re often dealing with unfavorable lighting, poor natural light, or difficult artificial lights. If you’re looking to improve your photography, then there are simple techniques you need to master. For most a photography tutorial is the way to go, especially if you need visual cues. The on-camera flash should not be used except in absolute emergencies because it’s going to create harsh shadows and unfavorable glare. If there’s a choice between this and higher ISO, choose the ISO because it can be fixed in post processing to some degree.
The Bounce Flash
If you’ve ever worked an indoor event, especially at night, then you know poor lighting is going to happen. Your worst enemy is often direct flash which any photography tutorial will tell you because it’s too harsh and looks cheap. If you’re lucky enough to have a standard or a bit above ceiling rather than a lofty one you can angle your speedlight upwards and bounce light off the ceiling. This allows for light to be reflected back down much softer and give an “overall” light rather than a “flash” look. You’ll need to use a higher power flash because it will get diffused by doing this. If you also use a large aperture it will help with low lighting in this situation and it’s easy to find a photography tutorial on low light work.
Windows are undoubtedly the best thing for indoor photography. Using natural light is softer and brighter which is more pleasing in an image. Standing your subject near or next to a large window or open door can give a better overall or directional light. You can also “create” a window by using a large square or rectangular softbox that mimics natural light with a diffuser. Daylight is a great advantage indoors and brighter than most flashes so if you can get it, use it. You can also direct strong natural light with a reflector the same as you would with an artificial light.
The Off Camera
Off camera flash is also useful with indoor lighting because it gives you some flexibility for your directional main light. An off-camera flash or strobe light allows you to light up the area without having that traditional “bright” front light which makes it seem more natural. You’ll need a flash that fires wirelessly or a trigger to do so, there are also some IR triggers out there and radio frequency triggers. You’ll also need a light stand with a flash bracket unless you have an assistant plus a softbox or umbrella can be useful to diffuse it as well. Figuring out where to place your off-camera flash depends on the effect you want to get so check out a photography tutorial or two to learn placement.
A reflector is one of the simplest and least complicated types of lighting, you can even make one yourself from simple items from the DIY store. There’s at least one photography tutorial on how to do that out there. Light travels in a straight line and this can be used for both artificial and natural light to bounce it back onto the subject, thereby lessening the shadows. You can also use the reflector to distract well-meaning people by having them hold it as an assistant, even if you don’t need it!
The Single Light
This is the easiest and most dramatic light – your main key light source is from 45º to the subject and no other light. This works with windows and natural light too but is good for dramatic and high contrast looks when shooting indoors. In fact, you’ll find more than the fair share of how to shoot this type of photography tutorial with a single light.