Improve Your Photos Without Buying A Thing


Would you like to improve your photography without making another purchase?

If you are using a point and shoot, dSLR or even your phone, there is one simple and FREE thing that will dramatically improve your photos.

Great photos happen with great light.

Last month we covered creating light with flash, often more time and frustration than most of us want to spend on our everyday photos.

You know morning light and late afternoon light give the most even, beautiful light to shoot in. When the sun is at an angle, rather than overhead, you get a more indirect, diffused light. You can’t always shoot at those perfect times though.

So, where can you find light?

  • Inside, near a window
  • Place your back to the window and put your subject in front of you, be careful not to shadow your subject, or
  • Place your shoulder and your subject’s shoulder toward the window, creating side lighting.
  • North facing windows give the best indirect light, but any window can work.
  • Avoid bright, direct sunlight through a window. Step into the light beside the window or place a sheer curtain over the window.


Using my phone, I captured the light on his face from a large window to his right side.

In open shade (when weather permits, of course)

  • Find a tree outside with even (non dappled) shade.
  • The light at the very edge of the tree is typically best.

Open your garage door

  • Shoot just inside the door. The light will bounce off the driveway onto your subject.
  • Place your subject facing toward the driveway to get even light on them.

Overcast days

  • White overcast days act as a huge diffuser for the sun.

Natural reflectors

  • Alleys are great spots for light, as they tend to block direct sunlight bouncing it off of the walls. You probably don’t find yourself in an alley on your typical day though!
  • Look for sides of buildings where light is bouncing off of the ground or adjoining walls.
  • See a large concrete slab? It naturally bounces light up and right into the face of your subject.

Car Interiors

  • When light is harsh outside, get into your car. This works extremely well with light interiors. The light bounces around covering your subject in beautiful light.


You may find yourself in a few light situations that call for a little creativity.


  • ALWAYS choose the seat with your back to a window. You will get the benefit of beautiful light filtered in on your subject. This is always my spot. Family members don’t even question it anymore.
  • Do you frequent the same restaurant? Find THE table with the best light. Always try to get it for the best results! (I am obsessive about this at our local spot.)

Birthday Parties

  • Try to seat the birthday girl or boy in a chair so that window light is in front of them. Avoid placing them somewhere with a huge, bright window or light behind them.
  • No windows? Lights out? Give them a lot of candles! You’ll need to get a bit more technically tricky with this situation. The low light lesson will help.

image Sometimes finding the light means moving your camera just a few inches to change the angle. If possible, move around your subject before you shoot. See where the light looks best.

When you can see the catch lights in your subjects eyes – those little white reflective spots – you know you’ve found the light.

Notice the light in my new photo? Bathroom light. Yes. My bathroom lights are directed at the ceiling, bouncing off the ceiling, creating even diffused light without a lot of shadows. Perfect. Light can be found in so many unexpected places!

Have fun looking for the light!


image “I eat, breathe, write and teach Photography! My camera is my most often worn accessory. I am a mom with a camera who feels compelled to capture my son’s life. I was frustrated by my search to learn how to use my camera and knew I had to pass on the knowledge I gathered to help other moms capture their favorite subjects. I started out with a film SLR years ago, on auto. Moved to a dSLR in 2002 on auto and in 2005 finally decided I needed to know what TV actually stood for!”

Katrina teaches photography classes at Get It Scrapped. Writes photography tutorials for DesignerDigitals and blogs about her life through the lens at About A Boy.