In this post, I want to share with you how to Divide & Connect in photography by using space within your home. We live in a new build property. When scrolling through Instagram, I can sometimes be found admiring photogenic fireplaces, wooden beams, large windows with strong directional light, interesting nooks and crannies, spacious kitchens and picturesque front doors and porches. I am probably not alone…
We have no plans to move anytime soon. We are proud of the home that we have created together for our family. I love to take photographs at home. I have a drive to capture those little moments that I want to remember for many years to come. Those moments that make me laugh, well up with a sense of pride, or even make me feel a little bit frustrated! These are moments that might fade if I don’t document them in some way. However, shooting inside and around your own home, (regardless of the age, style, or features) can often be tricky. Light may be limited. Space may be tight. Children, pets (and partners!) can be messy – very messy!
When I’m shooting at home, I consider where best to position myself for the greatest storytelling. I look for interesting compositions and for the light that allows me to capture my home, my family, and those fleeting moments of time. I think about what may engage and encourage the viewer to stay with the image for longer. Because, ultimately, that’s what we want, right? People to really stop and look. We want them to linger on the images that we create, to connect and to feel something.
Firstly, one technique I use is to split the frame across different rooms or spaces allowing for two parts of a story to be told. When pieced together, the spaces make one overall story. Dividing the frame in this way, a little like a diptych, enhances the storytelling by adding further context. The inclusion of the bathroom, in the example below, adds to the overall context of the story of my son being unwell.
Another great tip is to embrace those straight lines and doorways that run throughout your home. Use them to give your images extra depth and dimension and to draw the viewer’s eye through the image to your subject. In the image below, I stood in the doorway at the opposite end of the hallway to capture my daughter tapping away on the keyboard of the computer – in a room she shouldn’t have been in!
Shooting from outside a room or from a different space provides a sense of separation from the subject. This can really alter the perspective of an image. From one where the viewer is there and present in the moment, to one where the viewer is a fly on the wall, an observer or maybe even an unwanted intruder to the moment! I love experimenting with shooting from an alternative space and observing how that can make an image feel and the story that this helps to tell. In the image below, I shot from the stairwell and held my camera high above my head.
I often find that when I am in the room, especially when I am photographing my family, that I inadvertently influence the moment and as a result I don’t always go on to capture what originally caught my attention. Staying at a distance, by shooting between rooms or spaces, gives me a chance to alter my settings, to observe, to line my camera up (I am a notoriously wonky shooter!) and to capture that original moment which inspired me to grab my camera in the first place.
Shooting through doorways and between spaces can provide additional depth, dimension and layering to an image. It allows you to hint at real life beyond the moment that’s been captured. The additional layering allows more of those small details to be included in the image which can add to the overall context of the story you wish to tell. It also means you can embrace the mess! The toys scattered on the floor. The washing hanging on the banister, or the clothes that haven’t yet been put away!
Using objects and furniture around the home can also be used to frame your subject. Here I shot from further along the upstairs hallway. But I used the clothes dryer and the children’s tepee to frame my son playing in the washing basket.
Step outside your home and look for opportunities where you might shoot from the outside in. For example, through open or closed doorways and windows. In smaller spaces or those with less available light, this can be a great way to capture more of the scene, or it can add some additional light to the room. We have large patio doors in both our kitchen and living room, so I regularly stand in the garden and shoot into these rooms from the outside.
Also, consider opportunities to shoot from different angles or perspectives. For example, shooting up/down the stairs or in or out of a window/door. This can be a great way to shoot between different spaces in your home.
Search for pockets of light within your home that can provide interest in those less well-lit and not quite as attractive spaces. These can elevate an ordinary image and make it captivating. Our downstairs hallway doesn’t have any windows of its own. It’s very dark in the winter. But opening the front door provides some great light.
Observe how the weather affects the light in and around your home at different times of the year. Sometimes I spot new and unexpected light and I am able to take advantage of this light at the time. I’ll take note of it for another occasion. Look for spaces or rooms that you don’t usually shoot in and watch what the light is doing in these rooms at different times of the day and at different points in the year.
Sometimes our home is messy. Sometimes I’m too slow and I miss the moment. Other times I take awful photos. And sometimes I am completely uninspired to shoot in the same spaces that I have shot in before. Especially on those grey, wet, British winter days! However, when I least expect it, I spot some new and interesting light. Or a moment that I haven’t yet captured. And then I am inspired to pick up my camera and take the shot. I have found opportunities to utilise the space within my own home to divide myself from my subject and to document and connect with our family story. I hope that this blog helps you to look for new opportunities to shoot in your own home and to create even more of your own beautiful stories.