10 Easy Photography Ideas for When You're Stuck at Home
It's hard to feel creative when you can't leave the house.
Right now, with COVID-19 shutting down the world, most of us are stuck at home all day. Isolation can be a real drain on inspiration.
But on the other hand, all that extra time at home can be an opportunity: a chance to learn something new.
This is a uniquely strange and stressful time in history. If you feel like leaving your camera in its bag and marathoning Netflix, we totally understand. We've been doing some of that too. But we hope these super easy, anyone-can-try-it photography ideas will make you feel a little flash of inspiration. All you need is a camera.
For those visual learners, Pexels video guru Ricky was kind enough to try out a few of these ideas and document them in a YouTube video that's guaranteed to make you want to pick up the camera.
Have a watch, read on, and get snapping.
Photo Idea #1: Flat Lays
Everyday objects can become art when you arrange them for a flat lay. You might try creating a flat lay with stationary items, your camera gear, knick knacks from around your home, food from the kitchen, children's toys... Anything goes.
The first thing you need for a flat lay is a good surface to use as a background: your kitchen counter, desk, carpet with an interesting pattern, a piece of cloth laid on the floor. A wide angle lens will work best to capture your flat lay, but great flat lays can be shot with your phone camera as well.
If you don't have a tripod, C-stand, or other equipment to hold your camera in place, you can also simply position yourself on a chair so you're well above your flat lay set up. Adjust the lighting in the room as needed and experiment with adding more or less shadow to your flat lay.
Finally, don't be afraid of cropping the final result to get the look you want!
Photo Idea #2: Portraits
Whether you're already a seasoned pro at portrait photography, or you've always thought it wasn't your thing, being stuck at home can offer an awesome time to work on your portrait skills.
Of course, this only applies if you share your space with somebody else—but pets definitely count!
If you don't have a human companion, now's the time to get your beloved cat, dog, or even fish in front of the camera. (And if you're a totally solo household, skip to the next photography idea.)
If you do have a housemate who's up for a shoot, but they're a little camera-shy, no fear. Talk to them about what kind of photo they might be into. Maybe they'd like a new LinkedIn profile picture or some fresh shots for their online dating profile. Maybe they're up for anything as long as you give them lots of direction on how to pose. Decide what kind of portraits you can create together.
Experiment with different settings in your home, lighting, time of day, and lens. Try adding in some props! And check out our advice on making the most of the light from your windows for great portraits.
Photo Idea #3: Self Portraits
Now is the perfect time for experimenting with self portraiture. You don't even need a tripod for awesome self portraits (although it doesn't hurt!).
All you really need is the self timer mode on your camera or smartphone, which you can then prop against something sturdy like a stack of books. You'll also need some patience with yourself as you try out different poses, angles, and lighting.
Mirror portraits might seem cheesy to some, but you can definitely use a mirror for interesting self portraiture. All it takes is some creativity and good composition.
Photo Idea #4: Window Views
Why not put the time you spend staring longingly out the window to good use? Windows offer great composition opportunities—shooting a window gives your photo a built-in frame.
And there's lots of fun chances to play with light, focus, and exposure here. Try switching back and forth between focusing on the scene outside the window and the scene at the window's edges. Or focus on the texture of the window itself, which works well if it's rainy.
Here's one fun idea: photograph the same window, from the same vantage point, at many different times of day and night, and try making a stop motion movie clip out of all the photos you compile.
Photo Idea #5: Still Lifes
Still lifes are an amazing photography genre: literally anything can be part a still life. You don't need to go all Cézanne and artfully arrange a whole crateful of oranges on a wooden table. The most regular, everyday items in your home are the best candidates for these photos.
Try out some still lifes to record what daily life is like for you right now. Still lifes can be messy! Document the stuff on your bedside table, that plant you keep forgetting to water, your favorite books. Get creative and rearrange things for an interesting composition.
Overhead lights can often have a harsh, glaring feel—you may have more success by pointing a few smaller lamps at your still life set up. Experimenting with natural light and shadows is another good option.
Photo Idea #6: Candid Moments
When you're spending your days at home, time can start to blur together, until you can't recall if it's Wednesday or Saturday, or how many days you've been wearing the same pants for. Make a point of documenting your experience at home by photographing whatever's happening.
Sometimes the best portraits are the totally candid ones that you snap when someone isn't even paying attention. And you might be surprised by how much you treasure those photos in the future.
Photographing your space is also a great option for candid shots. Don't think about it too much, just keep your camera close at hand and snap some shots whenever the mood strikes. This guide to candid photos is a good read to get started.
Photo Idea #7: Minimalism
First, clean up every bit of clutter in your house, so you have a nice blank slate to work with... Just kidding! You don't need a perfectly minimalist home for minimal photographs. Minimalism in photography is all about finding interesting, often geometric-inspired compositions wherever you can.
A beautiful, minimal photo can capture the serene empty corner of a table—one that's totally covered in mess from outside the photo frame. This photo idea is all about getting creative with where you focus your lens.
An easy option for great minimal photography is to pick one object as your photo subject. It could be anything: a chair, a broom, a single leaf. Try photographing this subject in different places around your home. Hang it on the wall if possible. Play with the shadows that fall on it. See which backgrounds make it pop.
Try a minimal perspective on portrait photos by posing your subject against a wall. Great minimal images often grab the eye by leaving lots of negative space in the frame. Consider the rule of thirds when you compose your minimal shots.
Photo Idea #8: Shadowplay
Pay close attention to the shadows in your home and use them to create interest in your photos.
Try making shadows the main focus of an image and see what the results are like. What natural shadows do you find at different times of day in your home? Late afternoon is often the best time for visible light patterns, but it will depend on what directions your windows face. Of course, you can also create your own shadow effects with creative lighting.
This is a great photo idea for when you have lots of time to spend observing your environment, testing out different shots, and editing to get the look you want.
You might find that shooting in black and white helps bring out the texture of the shadows and creates a more dramatic effect.
Photo Idea #9: Mirrors and Reflections
Reflections can add unexpected depth and interest to your photos.
Try experimenting with incorporating mirrors into your images in different ways. Mirrors can be a fun prop for portraits. Or you could focus on the reflected scene, and use the mirror as a frame for your image.
Broken mirrors are a classic photo prop to add a dramatic feel to an image. (Be very careful of the sharp edges if you do try this technique!)
Water can also be a fun way to create interesting reflections in images. Try setting up glasses or clear bowls of water near a subject—with the right lighting, this technique can create great shadowy effects, as seen above.
Finally, you can also create a reflection in any photo with a quick trick: hold your phone just underneath your camera lens when you shoot (or have someone help you hold it). It'll produce a cool mirrored effect at the bottom of your image. Check out this tutorial for how to do it.
Photo Idea #10: Product Shoots
Grab a favorite piece of tech, pair of sneakers, beauty product, your camera, a nice mug—any object with an eye-catching design. Create a DIY product shoot for that item.
Brainstorm how you can best show off this object as if you were being commissioned to shoot it for the brand. Do you want to show someone holding it? Wearing it? Sitting on a table?
For a plain white background when you don't have a photo backdrop, create your own impromptu backdrop by pinning a plain white sheet to the wall so that part of the sheet settles down on the floor. Grab a bright lamp or two from around your house if you don't have a lighting set up at hand and natural light isn't enough.
DIY product photos can be an awesome addition to your photography portfolio, especially if you're trying to show off your versatility! They are also a fun challenge if you haven't done this type of photography before. This DIY product photo guide has some useful tips for getting started.