Family Photo Tips While Social Distancing, Part 3

May 2020

Anyone else’s family tired of being photographed? I had to bribe my youngest with candy to be my subject for this :). Beautiful natural light is one of the most flattering lights you can have. You only need a few simple tips to capitalize on this accessible and easy light source…from inside your home: window light.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to

Part 1, where I introduce the series with some basic info such as “Do I need a fancy camera?” and Tip Number 1
and Part 2, how to photograph the spring blooms.


Window light is gorgeous, and it’s not too hard to get some simple and beautiful images with a few pointers. But those pointers may not be intuitive, so I hope these help you take advantage of a light I think all of you have easily on hand. Also, I’ve tried to keep it simple and not explain all the science behind the tips – most of you have enough on your plate schooling your children at home right now!

2 photo collage girl at window

Choose a day and time that is sunny

You want the light strong, so don’t choose an extremely overcast day. For indoor photos, I find that between 10am-2pm is a great time of day to get some good light. You’re not actually going to have the light directly on your subjects, so the stronger the light, the better the indirect light.

Make sure no direct light is shining in

You might think it’s best if you have light directly on your subject, but you want indirect light. Then, your window will act just like one of those expensive huge studio light setups. You’ll get a soft light without hard shadows. Experiment to see how the shadows fall on faces. You can see in the photos above that the shadows and highlights are different depending on how much of the subject is facing the window. You will get an interesting and dimensional image. A north facing window should always work, but just use one without light streaming in when you’re photographing.

Turn off your lights

Your indoor lights, though they may claim to be “natural”, will not be the same temperature as the natural light from outside. Mixed lighting rarely makes for good images. Also, your lights may be at unflattering angles such as straight down from above. Even though it may seem super dark inside, just turn off all the lights.

Get close to the window

OK, you turned off all the lights, but now it’s too dark for pictures! Well, not by the window. Light decreases exponentially, so although it may be super dark six feet away from the window, it’ll be perfect right next to the window.

Turn sideways

Turn your subject sideways so they are not turning their back to the window. Their bodies can even be facing it. You just have to go to the side, and not directly face the window. That will make sure some light is falling on their face, and that your camera isn’t getting too much of the outside light in the frame. If you do face the window directly, your subjects can still face sideways so their faces are not in full shadow. But that angle is a little trickier to handle. Getting your subject from the side and not including the whole window in your frame will be easier.

Use sheers

If you have sheers, you can use them to soften the quality of the light. I’ve also used them to mask the view outside that might be distracting. You can also use white sheers to reduce a color cast, such as if you have lots of green trees right outside that makes your subject look greenish.

More samples

Here are some more examples from children and families I’ve photographed that happen to be by a window. In each, note the placement of the window, subject, and camera, and the way the light affects the face.

young boy at window
young boy at window
baby being held in front of window
baby being held in front of window
girl polishing nails in front of window
boy playing in front of window
dad holding toddler daughter in front of window

That’s Tip 3! I hope your photos bring you lots of joy. Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t already to get future tips. Leave me a comment or tag me on Instagram or Facebook @robinsgambatiphotography to show me your social distancing family photos taken with this tip! I would love to see them!

Social distancing isn’t a great phrase – it’s only physical distancing, right? We can be still be social! Sign up below for my newsletter to get future tips.

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