Creative Lighting Ideas To Help You Take Great Photos Even When It’s Dark Outside

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my new eBook, Picture Play, coming out November 30th and available for pre-sale at $5 off the regular price. Order your copy at Since it’s the time of year where the days are getting shorter and darker, I wanted to help you find creative light sources in your home! Enjoy!

So, it’s not daylight outside, or you can’t get much sunlight to stream into the room you’re in. Now what? There’s nothing wrong with using other light sources to light your photos. This is a great time to get creative with what those light sources can be.

A well-placed lamp that illuminates your subject can make a beautiful, moody photo. Imagine if I’d turned on the overhead lights for this too. This photo would feel less dramatic and it would have less depth and interest than it does with this single, focused light source.

Just like sunlight, creative lighting is all about where the light comes from in relation to your subject. In this photo, you can see how the lamp is directly behind my head making my face dark, my hair too bright (notice the complete loss of detail in those bright white parts of my hair), and the overall feel of the photo very messy and grainy.

By simply repositioning my phone so that the light source was off to the right side of the frame instead of directly behind me, I was able to light my face properly and even capture some catchlights in my eyes. The shadows and highlights fall naturally across my face and the top of my baby’s head.

With a little editing, I can brighten the photo a bit more.

Here’s a great example of using a lamp to create a silhouette of subjects—very excited subjects who were listening to a hockey game way past bedtime when their favorite team won. The mood and the motion are more important than the subjects’ faces here.

Tip: Your light sources don’t have to be traditional lamps. Consider a TV, a lava lamp, an iPad, or a computer screen.

Sometimes all you need is an open door and lights on in the room next to you. This photo of my daughter and husband at bedtime is lit by an adjacent bathroom with the lights on.

You can still get well-lit photos with incandescent, fluorescent, or LED overhead lighting. A common issue when relying on interior lighting is that your white balance may be off. Do you see how the white bed in this photo is taking on a yellow tint?

That’s a white balance issue. When you have proper white balance, the whites of your photos will appear, well, white. There’s a proper balance of temperature and tint: warm yellows and magentas and cool greens and blues. When this is not balanced, your photo can look more yellow, magenta, blue, or green than the real scene appears to the eye.

There are simple fixes for this we’ll get into later on in the apps section, so don’t stress too much over it now.

Tip: One easy way to deal with white balance AND low light? Convert the photo to black and white. (We’ll get into black and white conversions more in the eBook.)

Many of the indoor photos you take without natural light can still look awesome with just a little brightness and contrast added.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Be sure to pre-order your copy of Picture Play before November 30th so you can save $5 off the regular price! Head over to to get your order in today.

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