How to Embrace Winter Light in Photography

by | Light


Happy December! The holiday spirit is in the air. The low, warm winter light is here. Hopefully, your family will all be home together, and you will be taking a ton of photos to remember this holiday season.

December brings the smell of fires burning in the fireplace, chestnuts roasting on an open fire (I have never roasted a chestnut, have you?), and the twinkle of the Christmas tree. It also brings a lot less light for you to take amazing pictures, especially if you take them inside! If you’re learning to use your camera, head over and check out the Beginners Photography Essentials!

Don’t worry, taking amazing pictures inside is all about working with the light. I teach my students that learning to find light and learning to make that light work for you is essential in your photographic journey. That can be difficult with winter light, but you can do it.  

winter light indoor photography

Low Winter Light Photography Indoors

Spend a few days noticing the light in your house. Is there a particular time of day that the sunlight streams through your kitchen window? Jot that time and location down. What about in the afternoon? Is the light better in one part of the house over the other? It’s incredible the light you can find when you pay attention.  

Once you find that light, follow these five simple steps to amazing photos using natural light indoors, and you will never again have to worry that you can’t take pictures on dreary, overcast days!

Five Simple Steps to Amazing Photos Using Natural Winter Light Indoors

1. Turn Off Artificial Light Sources

Many of you already know you want to turn off the lights when photographing inside. If you have competing light sources, this will affect your white balance. Use the light from the window to light up your subject. 

2. Face Your Subject Towards the Light

Face your subject towards the light. After that, have your subject angle off of the light source and use that natural light to create flattering shadows and catchlights in their eyes. Catchlights are those little squares of light that you catch in your subject’s eyes, giving them life.

indoor winter light portraits
Embracing Winter Light to Take Beautiful Photos Indoor

3. Explore ALL Rooms in the House

Move your subject around the house, and don’t forget the bathrooms. Yes, the bathrooms. Bathrooms with windows can have great natural winter light.

4. Use a High ISO Setting

Crank up the ISO if needed. You read that correctly. Most cameras nowadays can handle a high ISO. And it’s okay to have a bit of grain in your photo. If your image is exposed correctly and your ISO is high, you will have a picture with much less noise. 

5. Don’t Forget to Have Fun & Be Creative

Lastly, have fun creating amazing photos using indoor light. Try closing the curtains to diffuse the light. For instance, closed blinds create dappled light. Experiment with how close and how far your subject is to the window. You can even hang a blanket over the window and see what kind of shadows you can achieve. Blankets have different weights, textures, and colors — all will have an effect on the light. Test them out to see which effect you like most!

winter light indoor photography
Stunning Indoor Photography Ideas

There are so many ways to achieve amazing photos using indoor light. Now, grab your camera, try out a few of these tips, and don’t forget to pop onto my Facebook page and share a few!



Learn how to use manual mode and take control of your camera so that you can create the amazing images that you’ve always imagined with the online Beginners Photography Essentials!

Lifestyle Photographer & Mentor

Hi, I’m Dena, a natural light lifestyle photographer with 20+ years of experience capturing other people’s memories and teaching photographers how to understand and easily use their cameras.

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You have a great camera, but you still aren’t getting the photos you want — the photos that truly WOW you! My Photography Essentials Cheat Sheets will help you improve your photos in just minutes!