There are times when you get stuck at home as a photographer due to a snowstorm, flu, or a new worldwide virus. Whether you are a professional or an enthusiastic amateur, it sucks not being able to get on the road to enjoy photography. We know how it feels and came up with many exciting ideas to practice your skills and make beautiful images in or around your home.
Photography ideas at home with your smartphone
You can photograph so many meaningful things in your home. Just wander around and look at everything that is there. We have put together a list of things we could photograph in our home. Be creative. Look at things from a different perspective. Besides that, try to think out of the box with the settings of your phone as well. Here are our 10 favorite at-home photography ideas:
- Family portraits
- Food photography
- Splash and drops
- Oil, ink, or soap in water
- Light trails and patterns
- Flowers and plants in ice
Let’s dive in and see how you can quickly implement these ideas in your own home. Take multiple shots with different settings and angles. When you have taken enough photos, you can edit them in your favorite third-party app like Lightroom, Afterlight, or Snapseed.
If you pay attention to it, you will see reflections everywhere in your house. Don’t think about the obvious things like a mirror or sunglasses. You can create stunning ideas with a window, tv screen, spoon, or water as well. Here are some ideas:
Smash an old or cheap mirror in large pieces. Place them on the ground or table and create a broken-looking portrait. You can also hang the pieces on a line from a rod to take an upright picture of yourself or your roommate. Or use one part of the glass to capture a selfie.
Grap your tripod or something to steady your phone. Set the timer to 5 or more seconds or use a wireless remote shutter. Position yourself close to a clean window. Put your face against the window and take a photo in portrait mode. It will create an interesting composition with a shallow depth of field.
Take a clean spoon from your cutlery and get creative with reflections. Think selfies, abstract mirroring, or rearview mirror effects. A large aperture will give an excellent shallow depth-of-field when photographing with a spoon. Find an exciting pattern, put the spoon on top with the convex side down, get on the same level as the objects, and create a stunning image.
There are countless ways to take a self-portrait with your smartphone. Here are some exciting ideas to try at home. More on taking the best Instagram worthy selfies in this blog post.
Use a bright light source in the background to create silhouettes for a dramatic feel to your photos. When the light is a bit lower (than the ceiling), you will get the most exciting result. You will need to set the shutter speed and, if possible, the aperture yourself. You don’t want your camera phone to fix the silhouette effect. Use a low ISO, a fast shutter speed, and adjust the aperture according to the lighting conditions. Be aware of the background. It should not be too cluttered; otherwise, your body shape won’t stand out as well.
Get really close
Take, for example, images of your eyes or any other great facial features. By leaving some of your face out of the frame, the attention will go to the focal point faster.
Hide your face
Hiding parts of your face behind a curtain, flower, or bedsheet can be more interesting to look at. Hold a bright flower in front of one of your eyes, use your hands or hair, use a candle, or pick one of your favorite objects.
A selfie does not always have to include your face or your entire body. You can create some creative shots by just focussing on your hands. Or maybe even only on the ring on your finger. Try black and white photography to emphasize the lines in your fingers. You can hold something in your hands, put them on the table, stroke your pet, or play a musical instrument.
Combine multiple images
Another different portrait idea is making a diptych or triptych. In other words, create an image that is made up of two or three pictures. You can tell a story with these kinds of self-portraits. Shoot yourself from different angles, with different lighting, or zoom settings. Try different facial expressions, or show the world how your hair goes from just out of bed to ready for the day. You can also use a burst mode to capture movement within one particular activity.
Capture your mood
Take a 7-day or 30-day challenge to capture your mood every day. Show off your personality, or how you feel at that specific moment. Think about what makes you unique, and do not be afraid to make a fool of yourself.
Use objects to frame your face and/or body. This can be an actual frame of a painting, but you can also use other objects in your home. You can use doorways, windows, plants, roommates, and shadows. Framing will give your photo context, a sense of depth, and leading lines.
Proper lighting is essential to a great photo. But do not be afraid of the absence of light. A well-placed shadow can make your portraits very interesting. You can use it to hide parts of your face or to create a pattern on your cheeks and forehead. When you start photographing portraits with added shadow, go for harsh lighting conditions. It will cast patterns of shadows more easily. Use a light, a lantern, blinds, or plant leaves to create stunning effects.
Do not just take pictures from the front with the camera at eye level. It is far more interesting to change the angle to a high or low view. You do not have to look into the lens while making a portrait. Experiment with looking away, or over your shoulder. It will create a more natural look or even more mysterious in the right ambiance.
We have been talking about reflections in the first paragraph. Try to give these tips a go when creating new self-portraits.
Use a photo in a photo by shooting a portrait of your pet or family member. Hold the photo (on your phone or another screen) in front of that body part and take a picture. For example, photograph the nose and eyes of your cat and hold this picture in front of your face. Try not to laugh in the process.
3. Family portraits
You have plenty of time to shoot some lovely family portraits when you cannot go outside. Try different things like:
- Putting all the faces next to each other (frontal or sideways).
- Use a stairwell to line everybody up.
- Lie on the bed with heads in hands.
- Jump from the couch at the same time.
- Do funny faces in front of the mirror.
- Shoot a variation of no hearing, seeing, or speaking.
- Put the phone on the ground and hover over the camera.
- Do a hand portrait from big to small on top of each other.
If your family does not live with you in the same house, try shooting a portrait with your pets or your roommates.
4. Food photography
If you have a full fridge, you have got plenty of photo opportunities. Bright fruits and veggies are high for contrast and macro photography. Have you ever looked, I mean really looked at a kiwi? Or a lime? Look for patterns, details, and lines. You can create stunning close-up images. Try plating your dinner even more beautiful than you already did. Set the table, add some objects, and photograph your plate of food. Really bright and clean images always work well for food photography.
5. Splash and drops
As long as there is water coming from the tap, you can create splashes and drops in your smartphone photography. Have you ever tried to create one of these images? It can get a bit messy, so make sure you have a couple of towels at hand.
- Fruit (like a lime) falling in a lemonade glass filled with water
- Waterdrops on fruit and veggies
- Raindrops on the window
Creating splash photography with a mobile can be a bit of a challenge. You will need a timer, a tripod to stabilize your phone, and a remote shutter. Fill a glass or bowl to the rim, lock your focus on the water, and set the timer. You are now ready to drop the slice of lemon in the glass. Do this just a fraction of a second before the picture is taken. It will take some practice to get it done right, but you can create stunning images.
Splash photography with your phone, step-by-step mini-guide:
- Pre-focus on the subject where the splash is going to be when you drop the lime.
- Practice a bit to get your timing right.
- Set the timer to 3 or 5 seconds or use a remote shutter. Or as long as you need to pick up the slice and drop it in the glass.
- Drop the lime into the glass just before the timer is down to zero.
- There it is, your water splash picture made with a smartphone.
Make sure you use enough light sources and fast shutter speed to freeze the moment. It is also possible to create splashes with running water and some fruit or veggies. For a light and clear effect, use a white background.
6. Oil, ink or soap in water
Another fun way to use water is by using oil, ink, or soap. These materials can create wavy or bubbly compositions as soon as they come into contact with water. Use different color light sources under the bowl to create colorful effects. You will need:
- a glass table or other transparent object
- a bowl of water
- some kind of oil, ink, or soap
- your smartphone
- a macro lens (might be built into your phone)
- and some colored lights
Pets are such a blessing when you have to stay at home. A furry friend who is always happy to see you. If they can sit still for a bit, you can use them to create lovely pet portraits. Here are some creative ideas:
- Blanket: Wrap your pet in a blanket for a sweet touch
- Capture moments: Follow them around for a day (or hour) and capture funny moments or poses
- Add something: Give them an accessory like a head, glasses, or a flower
- Play with angles: Find a different perspective so the nose is huge and the body and feet quite small.
- Close-up: Take macro shots from their eyes, nose, or paws.
Get your Christmas lights from the attic, and start creating soft and lovely bokeh effects. Put the lights far outside the focal point so they will be out of focus in the final image. Choose the subject of your liking, set it close to your camera phone, pick a large aperture (small number, if possible with your phone), and start taking pictures. Most smartphone cameras have a fixed aperture. You cannot change it, but software or information from a second lens will create a bokeh-like effect. The only smartphones that allow changing the aperture are the Samsung phones in the Galaxy S9, S10, and s20 range.
Create Bokeh effect without light bulbs
Nevertheless, it is possible to create a bokeh-kind effect without using light bulbs. Grab a piece of thin foil from the kitchen, and crumple the foil. Use it as a backdrop. Furthermore, you will need:
- Subject (or multiple objects)
- Reflecting surface (black, or transparent with black paper underneath)
- Lamp to shine on the foil
- Torch to brighten the subjects
- Tripod to stabilize your mobile phone
- Remote shutter or timer
Make sure the smartphone and tripod are close to the items and shine a torch on the objects during exposure.
9. Light trails and patterns
Are you living in a lively street with lots of cars, busses, and bikes going by? Try photographing light trails in low-light conditions. It is not too difficult with the right equipment and a little patience. You can also make light trails with a torch or other light source in your room. You will need your camera, a tripod, and a remote shutter, headphones, or a timer. Follow these steps for great results:
Place the tripod in front of your window (preferably open), on your balcony, or in your garden when shooting car or bus tail lights.
Put your phone on your tripod. You can read more about using your smartphone on a tripod in this article: “Can I Put My Smartphone On A Tripod?” And here you can find our favorite affordable tripods for Smartphones.
Set the camera’s timer, use a remote shutter or headphones to make wireless shooting possible. You can avoid disturbing the camera by using one of these methods and create the best possible light trail. You can buy a remote shutter for a few bucks. Here are our favorite ones.
Use the manual or pro mode of your native camera app, or download and use a third-party app. Learn more about manually focussing your smartphone in this article, “How Do I Manually Focus My Android Camera?”
Shoot your images in RAW format. Read more about taking RAW photos with your smartphone in this article, “Can I Shoot RAW Images With My Phone?
Low ISO value
Choose a low ISO value and a longer shutter speed of about 10 to 30 seconds. Give different values a try and see whether or not the light trails are long enough.
Edit RAW pictures
Take many images and edit the RAW files in your favorite third-party app. We love to work with Lightroom, Snapseed, VSCO, and, Afterlight. You can read more about our favorite editing apps in this blog.
If you don’t have a busy street, try making light trails with a torch. The idea is the same. Swirl the light around or try making all kinds of shapes. Use different colors for more spectacular results.
10. Flowers and plants in ice
Frozen flowers and plants are a simple way to give your floral photography a different perspective. You only need:
- Flowers or plants
Pick your favorite flower, put them for example in an ice cube tray, fill with water, put it in the freezer, wait a few hours, and voila. Put the cube in front of a light source. This will enhance the colors in the flowers and the bubbles and cracks in the ice.
More Creative Ideas for Photographing at Home
You will be busy for a while trying these 10 home photography tips. Just in case you will be stuck home for a bit longer, we have some alternative ideas:
- Macro photography from all kinds of details in your home. Use a macro lens if you have one. You can read more about or favorite lenses on the recommended gear page.
- High-key photography of your roommates, or any interesting object in your home. High-key photography uses unnaturally bright lighting to remove any harsh shadows in your images. It will give a very polished result.
- Low-key portrait of yourself or your family. Yes, it is not the easiest picture to take, but you have time to become a master. It will instantly make your portraits more interesting. A low-key image will mostly contain dark colors and tones.
- Motion blur photography of cars, busses, and bikes passing by. Use a non-moving object in the foreground or background to create a story and a sense of depth. Motion blur is a great way to capture movement in a photograph. You can create motion blur while panning one object; the rest will blur out. Or use a non-moving subject amidst moving traffic.
- Get creative with double exposure photography. Shoot a base photo and a layer image that will fill the base shot. Use software or third-party apps to compose the final image.
- Find harsh shadows and make exciting compositions. Use natural or artificial lighting to create surprising photographs.
- Create abstract images from objects in your kitchen or living room. Think about forks, plates, and electronics. You can create patterns, lines, and colors with the things you can find at home.