Tips for taking better pictures: Lighting

Taking photographs indoors can be tricky, because it is usually too dark and flash can cause problems. Here are some tips for ensuring you have great light in your photographs.


  1. Switch your flash off. The flash on most cameras is harsh and often over-exposes faces, making them look washed out. It also creates strong shadows around the subject, looking unprofessional.

  2. It is often too dark to take photographs indoors. Ask your subjects to move to a place with more light, light a doorway or window – but be careful that the window light isn’t behind the person.

  3. Don’t photograph into the light, or your subject will be too dark. Rather, have your subject positioned so that the light is on one side of their face.

  4. Daylight provides the best light for your photograph.

  5. Avoid strong sunlight in one area of the frame, and strong shadow in another. This will create very dark shadow areas and very bright highlight areas, with no perfect exposure in between.

  6. Be aware when photographing by mirrors and window glass, as you might photograph your own reflection.

* Adapted from the Save the Children Photography Field Guide

Jenn Warren specialises in photography, communications, Communications for Development (C4D) and graphic design for humanitarian and development clients. Jenn has worked for a wide range of government, donor, UN and NGO clients. Her photography and writing has been published internationally.