Working In A Client's Home

Today's post comes from the book Family Photography: The Digital Photographer's Guide to Building a Business on Relationships by Christie Mumm. It is available from and other fine retailers.

The high ISO capabilities of today’s DSLRs have made shooting in clients’ homes much more feasible. I love the excitement of heading out to a client’s home and knowing it will be an utterly unique shooting location. There are always special areas to photograph the family. An added bonus is that their images will be even more significant because they represent their lives in such a personal way.

Evaluating the Light. Some special considerations with shooting in clients’ homes may include the lack of control you will have over lighting quality and color, working with pets, and learning to be comfortable asking clients to move furniture for the portraits. Many clients will have an idea of where in their home they would like to have portraits taken; sometimes, however, these
locations will not be the best for lighting. As I noted earlier in this chapter, lighting is much more important than the background. Try to prepare your client in advance of their session by letting them know that you will be asking to see all the rooms in the house to determine the best light. This will avoid the potential embarrassment if certain rooms are not tidy and ready for photography.

It is also a good idea to speak with clients in advance about the direction their windows face. This can help you plan the appropriate time of day to hold their session. If the home has many large windows facing due west, I would not recommend shooting there late in the day. At that time, the light will be harsh and hard to control. A morning or early afternoon session would be a better idea. Naturally, the opposite is true for east-facing windows. North-facing windows are great all day long in the northern hemisphere; southfacing windows are, accordingly, good all day for the southern hemisphere.

Locations to Try. Portraits of kids in their own bedrooms can be very fun. Most children love to show off their stuff and will enjoy the personal attention they get. Backyards can be nice—especially if the yard has some sort of play structure (trampolines are particularly fun for kids and grownups alike). I also love to take portraits of families flopped down on Mom and Dad’s bed—cuddling, reading, having a tickle fight, etc. Big, comfy beds are also great for baby and maternity portraits—so encourage your clients to allow you to shoot in their bedrooms if the lighting allows. Other good places can be bathrooms (tubs and showers make clean, simple backdrops) and kitchens, which usually have beautiful light and nice floors.

Lighting is more important than the background—but here the coordinating cool tones of the wall and the parents’ clothes make the warm skin tones the focus of the image.


  1. Love love this post! I have been aching to get my hands on a copy of this book. Christie Mumm is a Goddess of Photography

  2. Great article. This book sounds like a must read! :) Thanks!

  3. I have checked on this at Amazon and I'm gonna have to tell my grandpa about it. I think this is the most useful photography book that I'm gonna have. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Hi, I own a wedding photography Sydney business and I came across your blog while searching the internet for photography blogs. Anyway, it's really nice to see family members posing for picture. That particular moment wherein everybody was happy will always be remembered and treasured. Good thing, camera was invented.