If you love creating content, like me, you will know that a whole new level of challenging arose when we got locked down thanks to Covid-19. We were forced to stay in our homes, which meant no dreamy beach shoots or mountain views in the background of any photos. We were forced to create content from home. And in a 2 bedroom apartment, that wasn’t easy. But it challenged me to get SUPER creative in order to keep my Instagram page alive and kicking.
Given that I have spent the past 4 months shooting content solely from either our apartment or my parents’ house, I thought I’d share some tips that might help you if you are feeling uninspired or incapable of creating content at home.
My 5 tips that have helped me over the past few months would have to be:
- Lighting is key
- Get creative
- Don’t be afraid to move furniture
- Use props
- Don’t give up if your first idea doesn’t work
1. Lighting is key
Lighting is obviously something that is super important no matter where you are shooting, with the best light being natural light of course. So first prize is to always have natural light shining on your subject when taking a picture. But let’s be honest, natural light isn’t always available in every corner of your house or you aren’t able to get it hitting your subject directly, so two tricks I have used this lockdown when I have needed to shoot in a darker spot of my apartment or where I’ve had what I like to call ‘Phantom of the Opera light’ (because half your face is lit but the other half isn’t) is the use of Graduated Filters on Lightroom and a ring light. Both these tools have proven to be so useful when shooting in our apartment because we only have light coming from the front of our apartment.
A graduated filter allows you to pull a filter over a section of your image and edit just that portion, so I’ve used this a few times to lift the shadows and highlights on one side of my image where my face has been shadowed usually because I’ve shot side on to our balcony doors. And then of course my new prized possession is my ring light. This has allowed me to shoot in areas of my apartment where there is no natural light and even shoot content when it’s almost dark. Having a ring light has seriously helped my ability to shoot content at home and also it’s a great help when doing my make up every day.
2. Get creative
This might sound obvious but creativity is key! Get creative with your location, your outfit, your poses and your editing. When all that creativity comes together you will definitely have a unique and epic picture. Put on that ridiculous dress you never have an occasion for and sit on your dining table or try out the most random corner of your house and stick your legs up in the air. When you are limited with the number of spots to shoot, it really is all about getting creative with what you have to work with. I get a lot of my inspo from content creators on Instagram and then I think about where I could recreate something similar at home. Two of my favourite content creators are Paige Arminta and Kylie Katich. I love how they can take the most ordinary looking location and create the most insane pictures. I love their use of props and also their crazy poses which always make for the most amazing shots. The best part is they always show a behind the scenes video so you can see exactly what they were doing to get that picture.
3. Don’t be afraid to move furniture
This was something I took a while to do and when I did it opened up so many more spaces in my home to work with. It’s always a pain to put everything back in place afterwards but I can assure you that the photos you get will be worth it. For my shoot with the proteas, I wanted a blank wall for my background but in order to use a blank wall I had to move my rug, coffee table and couch to have enough space. After shooting with the blank wall I ended up shooting a second look sitting in front of my sofa which was now facing the windows so I had perfect natural light. It was a mission at first but I was so happy with how the pictures came out that it made it so worth the effort!
Side note: Another trick when wanting a solid white (or solid colour) background is to use a bed sheet or blanket as a backdrop. Super helpful when shooting headshots or close ups and you don’t want a busy background.
4. Use props
Often when you hear props you think of crazy colourful wigs and signs on little wooden handles that you’ve used at every Photo Booth you’ve ever been in but a prop can literally be anything. It can be a glass of wine, a book, a hat, or flowers. I find that a lot of the time a prop can really create a story for your photo and it gives you something to work with in a photoshoot, especially if you have trouble knowing what to do with your hands. Props are also a great way to make a photo look totally different even if you’re in the same spot as a previous image. So look around your home and find interesting items to create a narrative with and then build on the image idea from there.
5. Don’t give up if your first idea doesn’t work
Sometimes you have to accept that your idea just isn’t working and be willing to pivot to a different idea or change up your idea on the spot. What’s that saying about flogging a dead horse? It can be SUPER disappointing when you have thought up this awesome idea and you start to shoot and then realise it just isn’t working the way you wanted it to, but what is worse than that is continuing to shoot an idea that isn’t working in the hopes that it will miraculously start working. At this point, it is important to acknowledge it isn’t working but don’t just throw in the towel (unless you absolutely have to because you have no other option), instead try and see what else you could do with the idea, it might mean changing the spot you are shooting at, changing your outfit or just doing something different with your poses but don’t give up. A lot of the time, the shots from your 2.0 idea will end up being even better than you thought your original images would be. Trust me, I become the biggest sulker when my idea isn’t working but thankfully my hubby (and photographer) is always encouraging and helps to ensure I don’t give up merely because my first idea didn’t work.
Just to show you one example of an idea just not working (and there are many others)…I had wanted to shoot with these pink cake topping sweets on my lips, an adaption of the 100’s and 1000s shoot we had done (seen here). But they were so big that it looked ridiculous and they kept falling off, so after trying a few shots and failing we decided to ditch the sweets and just shoot some moody closeups of me instead. I was so annoyed at the time but I’m so glad we keep shooting as I love the way the photo on the left turned out.
As much as I miss going to awesome locations to shoot content (and I can’t wait for days like that again) I have thoroughly enjoyed being challenged creatively and finding new spots at home to shoot. I feel like the challenge has pushed both Nick and me to produce even better images than before and I’m super proud of what we’ve created in the comfort of our apartment.
I’d love to hear which picture is your favourite? Leave a comment below and let me know!