Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and

The Best of Friends by Adrian C. Murray on

These days, it’s easier than ever to snap a picture of your family on your phone—but there’s just something special about a lifestyle photo shoot. It’s your opportunity to not only capture the present, but to create a priceless keepsake that will always help you remember the past—even the little details, like that princess dress your daughter wouldn’t take off for a month or the summer that your son became a bookworm!

And not only have advances in digital technology made it easy for anyone to truly hone their photography skills—camera prices are constantly dropping, so it’s more affordable than ever to take your own high-quality photos.

Taking lifestyle family photos in the comfort of your own home is ideal because the space is free, your time is unlimited, and your photos will ultimately showcase your family’s style and personality. Plus, you don’t have to invest in expensive lighting equipment to take quality photos.

One of your best resources is the natural light that comes from the windows in your home—no special equipment necessary. Simply recruit your family, friends, and pets to take some practice shots during different times of day and test how the light impacts your photos. When you find angles and effects that you like, make notes so that you can recreate those effects again, with more polish each time.

Here are some great tips for using natural light to create amazing photos:

What To Do? by Moama on

Experiment with Window Light

In addition to shooting during various times of the day to experience different levels of natural light, you can also learn to master working with the natural light in your home by:

  • Placing your subjects at different positions along the window
  • Experimenting with front lighting and backlighting
  • Adjusting the angle at which your subject is facing the window
  • Adjusting the distance of your subject from the window
  • Playing around with your blinds—essentially free light modifiers!
  • Shutting off all of the other lights in the room so that you’re only working with one light source—this will save you from having to worry about balancing natural and artificial lighting.

Couple at home by fabio formaggio on

Pose Your Subject to Make the Most of Natural Light

The angle at which light falls onto your subjects can significantly affect the mood and overall feel of your image.

If you shoot from a front-facing angle with your subjects facing the window, the light will fall evenly across their faces, thus softening their features. For another option, try posing your subjects at an angle against the light. You’ll notice that their facial features will appear more prominent (as pictured below).

She shines by Bree Friesen on

Use a Variety of Windows Throughout Your Home

You’ll often see family photos staged in the living room, but try experimenting with shots in different rooms. In addition to giving you different amounts of natural light, varying size windows can create different effects and beautiful lighting.

For instance, a large, bright window will be helpful to create a softer image, while a small window can be an effective tool to create a more dramatic look. Taking photos in different rooms can also expose different elements of your family’s style and personality, helping you capture meaningful images that speak to who you are as a family.

Snow Watch by John Harper on

Simple Strategies to Manipulate Natural Light

Play around with window light to create various effects, too. Depending on how you position your blinds, they can serve as an effective light diffuser. Or add sheer curtains to help filter light and create a softer image.

You could also take a cue from the theater world and experiment with a GOBO—it’s like a stencil to place over your light source, which creates various colors or shapes. Custom GOBOs start at around $80. If you are experiencing problems with shadows, hang a piece of white fabric (even a bedsheet would work) or a large sheet of white cardboard to help you bounce light back onto your subject, eliminating shadows.

Love cafe vol3 by Akihiro Furuta on

Just remember, practice makes perfect, and digital cameras have afforded us the opportunity to take unlimited photos and make quick adjustments to create our ideal images.

By exercising your creative muscles in staging—and having fun with your family while doing it—you’ll capture images that reflect your family in the most authentic and meaningful way.