The Best Indoor Photography Lighting Setup Tips

It really should not be a surprise to anyone but indoor photography is something that has become a lot more popular over the past couple of years and the most important aspect here is that people are spending some time taking part in this type of photography. After all, if you have the chance to go ahead and get an excellent experience taking photos indoors, then why not, right?

Now, the good news is that if you are looking to engage in indoor photography, you will need to get your hands on a good indoor photography lighting setup because you cannot just do things with whatever you have. Sure, you are still able to take some basic pictures with everything that you have at your disposal but for more advanced work, you will need to get access to something good and reliable and that is what is important for us.

That is why we have decided all budding photographers look at the indoor photography lighting setups and see what they can and what they cannot do. So, let’s not waste time and have a look, shall we?

Indoor Photography Lighting Techniques

Now, the most common thing that a lot of people go through when we are talking about indoor photography lighting techniques is that they are not really sure about where they should start and where they should end. Normally, this is not something that is going to complicate the situation for you.

Modern indoor photography studio showcasing various lighting equipment including a softbox umbrella reflectors and LED lights. A camera on a tripod is set to capture the illuminated scene

As a matter of fact, lighting indoors is a lot easier for a lot of people. Still, we are going to have a look at these. I remember reviewing some lenses that were excellent for indoor photography thanks to an excellent aperture.

1- Windows are Your Friends

One of the biggest issues that indoor photography suffers from is the lack of light and without good lighting, the pictures are going to be a blurry, muddy mess and we do not want that. So, what can we do instead? Well, a lot of photographers over the years have been making use of the natural light that manages to find its way through the windows.

Utilizing Natural Light

Cozy living room illuminated by golden sunlight from a large window. Comfortable couch coffee table with books and indoor plants emphasizing the importance of natural lighting

I do understand that playing with natural light and trying to add more of it might not be as easy, but to be honest, it actually works really well especially if you have windows located in such areas where the lighting genuinely looks really good. So, be sure that you are looking out for that because it genuinely helps a lot in the process.

Light Temperature Variations

Be sure that the natural light that you are getting access to from the windows is on the softer side as it will be great when you are getting a soft glow. However, you can even go for harsher lighting if you are looking for something dramatic and moody.

Spacious room with bright sunlight streaming from a large window casting shadows on the floor. Photographer capturing the scene near the window

You will also have to look into the temperature of the natural light that changes through the day and then figure out which temperature you are looking to go for. You would be surprised just how a little bit of window light can help you as a fill light. After all, natural light is your best friend and you can use it for anything, even key light.

Now sure, you can’t just go ahead and control natural light as you would control something else like strobe lights or photography lighting but there are ways to manipulate that, as well.

2- Turning off The Lights

Another thing that is good here is that turning off lights is going to help you a lot more than you might think. I do understand that this might be confusing for some but hey, let me tell you why.

Lights that you have in your rooms will cast unexpected shadows that can interfere with the natural light that is falling through the windows, and the illumination produced by electrical lights is going to mess up the light that is coming from the window.

Photographer adjusting a white reflector board to manipulate the natural light coming from a window illustrating the technique of using tools to control window light

You can turn these continuous lights off for a much better experience. We have explained the best lighting setup for product photography on our blog too. Natural light is a lot better than you might imagine as it makes everything better, and a lot of people use only natural light to get the perfect picture.

This can even eliminate the need for photography lighting equipment, especially when something as simple as window light can take care of. Sure, you can always have artificial lighting but in most cases, it might not work for you.

3- Having an Aperture Priority Mode

If you are confused about what aperture priority mode is, the answer is simple. In this mode, the user is responsible for setting the aperture, while the camera handles the shutters peed. This will give you a much better experience without fully using the manual mode which can be difficult for a lot of people.

Shutter priority is usually marked with either an AV or an A on the camera.

4- Getting the Right White Balance

Moving forward, you have to understand that getting the right white balance is one of the most important things that you will have to experience. Some photographers are going to handle it in the post-processing, which is fine but if you want to go ahead and set it before, it will be better as you are going to save time during the post-processing.

You will have to experiment with a few camera settings before you are able to get the best setting that will suit you. Whether you are doing commercial photography or any other form, you will need to get the white balance right because otherwise things just look awful to a lot of people. The reason is simple, having access to proper camera settings is going to help you a lot.

Utility of Gray Cards in Photography

The good thing is that a gray card is something that can fit in your camera bag with ease and will help you make the most of it. Many photographers carry these cards, set the right white balance, and start shooting.

Now, with white balance, I am fully aware that things can be confusing, When you are talking about white balance, most people think that they can just work with more soft light or add in more lighting equipment but that is not always going to work.


5- Using the Right Backdrop

If you are looking to be sure that your picture manages to catch the best background and everything in detail, you will need to capture the picture using the right backdrop. Normally, I would suggest that you go with a reflective backdrop. A white backdrop is what I would always suggest because things do not get better than this.

A backdrop is very important because you can easily get some amazing product photography, as well as other types, especially if you are in a small space and you want a single light source.

6- A Lightbox is Your Friend

Yes, I do understand that not a lot of people prefer using a lightbox, but it would be more than beneficial to you because it makes the experience so much better and easier, too. If you genuinely want the best experience going forward, getting a lightbox is the right thing to do and you will not really have any problems in the process, either.

7- A Reflector is Great to Have

I do understand that most people are not really sure about whether they should be investing in a reflector or not but honestly, it certainly is a great thing because going forward, you will be able to get some excellent shots, and that too, without any complications. The reason why we always recommend reflectors is simple, they allow you to successfully bounce the light towards your subject and make everything look excellent.

How to Setup Indoor Photography Lights

Comparison of room with and without professional indoor photography lighting

Now we are going to talk about something that is going to be more complicated for a lot of people and to be honest, this can easily confuse most people, to begin with. So, let’s not waste time and start looking at it right away.

  • Start with 3 Lights:
    The first thing is that I will suggest you start with at least 3 lights. This is perhaps the best way to get started.
  • Setting Them Up:
    Remember, the key light is behind or beside the camera. The fill light is going to be less powerful light, and it will be directly in front of the subject. It should lower the main light in terms of the aim and position, and should only be used if you want more shadows. The hair light or backlight is going to be above or below the subject, depending on how you are looking to get the effect.
  • Moving Them Around:
    You also have to be certain that you are moving the lights around to get the perfect experience. Move them closer or further away from the subject to see what the results are and then decide accordingly. You can and should also experiment with the angles of the lights.
  • Check the Intensity and Temperature of the Lights:
    You will also have to go ahead and check the intensity and temperature of the lights that you are using. Based on the location and other similar things, you might have to look into getting these right.

Basic Equipment for Indoor Photography

Okay, now that we are done talking about the main part, let’s talk about some basic equipment for indoor photography. To make things easier for everyone, I am just going to list down the things that you should need, minus the camera and the lens, of course.

  • Tripod.
  • Reflectors.
  • Diffusers.
  • Flash.
  • Backgrounds.
  • Lightboxes.
  • Clips.

These are just the basic things that one should get started with whenever they are getting into indoor photography.

How Big Should Your Indoor Photography Studio Be?

A spacious indoor photography studio with high ceilings professional lighting and a backdrop setup. A photographer adjusting a camera and an assistant setting up equipment

Now, this is one of the more common questions that we get all the time and honestly, this should not be confusing to anyone. An indoor photography studio can range from 630 square feet to higher with some studios going as large as 1,250 square feet. At the end of the day, it is important to understand that this mostly relies on you. Therefore, you have to be certain that you are fully aware of what you are getting into.

Choosing the Right Studio

You cannot just go ahead and choose something randomly because it will not really do the job. Therefore, it is important to understand that you should always aim for a studio that fits your requirements more than anything else and something that allows you to work comfortably.

I would also suggest that you are always shooting in a RAW format so the raw file that you do get is amazing and the final image can easily be made to your liking. If it is your own photography studio, then you do not need massive, state-of-the-art equipment or a studio.

Value of Natural Light in a Studio

Moving further, another really important suggestion is that you should never overlook the importance of natural light. Sure, you can add a lot of strobe lights, or other light sources such as studio lights, rim lights, and light stands, but good natural light is something that you cannot really overlook.

How Do You Set Up a Home Photography Studio?

Cozy well lit home photography studio with a white backdrop professional lighting and a camera on a tripod. A diverse female photographer adjusts the lighting while a male model waits on a stool

Moving further, we are going to start talking about just how you can set up a home-based photography studio. Honestly, it is not going to be complicated at all but still, for those who are wondering, I am going to make things a bit easier and forgiving, so let’s have a look.

  • A Dedicated Room:
    The first thing that I would suggest everyone have is a dedicated room for a home-based studio. It should be big enough for your gear to fit there and that too, without any complications.
  • Equipment:
    I have already talked about the equipment that you are going to need and therefore, you have to be sure that you are managing it properly.
  • Natural Light:
    The room you are going to choose to be your photography studio has to have enough natural light because without access to that, you are not really going to get the experience you want and that is not what we are going to recommend to anyone.
  • Start Setting Things Up:
    Now, the next step that you have to cater to is being sure that you are setting everything up because a lot of the time, people normally do not have the understanding of how to set up the equipment. I would highly that you experiment with these things because they are going to be very, very important. Keep experimenting until you get the perfect results.

How Do I Get Rid of Ambient Light in an Indoor Shoot?

When shooting indoors, the most common problem that people run into is something that is associated with the ambient light because people do run into a lot of issues with that as well.

Thankfully, if you are looking to get things sorted, you would be in a much better shape to shoot. But how do you minimize or get rid of this light? Let’s look at some solutions.

  • Shooting at Sync Speed: Flash sync speed is the fastest shutter speed you can use, a faster shutter speed will block out the ambient light, and the longer the shutter is open, the more light will get in.
  • Minimizing the Ambient Light: This is something that you will have to do by yourself, and the best suggestion that I can give to you here is that you should work towards minimizing it so you do not have any issues. You can always cover up the area where the light is coming from or put up some diffusers, as well.
  • Increasing the Power of the Flash: One more thing that you can do is always increase the power of the flash and close the aperture down. I do understand that it might be confusing but this can actually help you get rid of ambient light.

How to Place the Object in An Indoor Shoot?

This is one thing that complicates the process for a lot of people. If you are shooting indoors and taking pictures of an object, then the placement matters a lot more than one might think. To put it simply, you just have to be certain that the light is properly hitting and illuminating the object the way it is supposed to be.

If the object you are dealing with is on the smaller side, you can always use a lightbox and place the object inside of it. But you can also go for tables, and other platforms where you will be easily able to get things sorted.

I do understand that things can be complicated at first but after a while, you start getting them in order, and that too, without any issues.

What Lighting Do I Need for Indoor Photography?

Honestly, as easy as indoor photography is and can be, a lot of people end up unnecessarily complicating it to the point that it ends up losing the charm, and well, that never really is a good thing, to begin with. If you are wondering about the type of lighting you will have to go with. I would highly suggest that you look at natural lighting as that is going to do way more for you and will result in some excellent experience, too.

The more natural light you have, the better it will make your experience and you will not run into any complications, either.

Frequently Asked Questions

Honestly, for those wondering, this really is not complicated. Quite the opposite, to be honest. You need to have as much natural light as possible to get the best results.

Contrary to popular belief, mastering indoor photography is not really difficult, to be honest. You just have to be sure that what you are doing is right.

I do understand that taking sharp pictures indoor is not easy but if you set your ISO to a lower number, you will be able to get some really good looking pictures.


I do understand that a lot of people who are getting into indoor photography might have some issues at the start because getting started is never as easy as it might seem. There are some spots where flash photography is not prohibited, but it adds meaning.

However, we also have to understand that once we are done following all the important aspects, the process becomes a lot easier than one might think and it never really creates an issue. So, always be certain when you are taking care of such aspects and you are good to go.

Rest assured, the more you look into it, the better it actually will become, and photography in general is something that only gets better with time. If you have the skill, talent, and understanding for it, you should not have any complications coming your way.

Furqan Shahid

Furqan Shahid

Hi! I’m Furqan Shahid, founder of SnapDirector. With a decade of experience capturing countless moments, I’m here to guide you on your photography journey and save you from gear pitfalls!

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