On Assignment: Motherhood

by | Feb 2, 2024 | Assignments | 0 comments

When Family Conferences asked for photos on the theme of Motherhood for their Mother’s Day social media posts, I was immediately excited. There is such a large variety of ways one could photograph this concept!

For this particular assignment, it is a bit of a challenging time of year to take photos of people outside, so I thought it would be a good challenge to take photos indoors with natural light. As it turned out, my models ended up being a mother and newborn, so I couldn’t bring them outside anyways. Here’s how it went:

Indoor lighting

When taking the photos indoors, I wanted the natural light from the window to bring light onto my subject’s face, so I looked for a location in the house that I could position her near the window. The bedroom ended up being a perfect spot with the bed by the window and the white walls for a brighter background.

The day that Julianna was available ended up being pretty cloudy, so there wasn’t a ton of light coming in through the window and the room was darker than I was hoping it would be. Shooting in manual helped me push my settings to the limits to get the highest quality pictures I could with the amount of light I was working with.

At first, I had her standing by the window so she’d be as close to the light as possible. But I just was not liking the compositions I was getting there so I moved her over to the bed. Ah, much better!

I mentioned in the video that I don’t always like using the 50mm lens. The main issue I ran into with it was focusing. The lens was having a really hard time grabbing the focus with the low light in the room, so a lot of my photos were not in tack sharp focus. I was aware this was happening so tried to slow down and ensure focus on each image, but it was still a challenge.


Like I said in the video, I typically gravitate towards backlighting in portrait photography because it allows for even light across the face.

However, it’s not as simple as “always use backlighting”.

Backlighting is good when you’re working with strong light like direct sunlight, but it’s important to have a secondary light source on the subject’s face. (That is, unless you’re trying for a silhouette, of course.)

In the following image, a grove of trees was was blocking ambient light (the usual "secondary light source" in outdoor photos) from being able to fill in the subject's faces. Their faces are in fairly deep shadow. This means that when I exposed for the faces, the background became far too overexposed. Because of this, the image does not have a clean feel too it (in my opinion).

However, just a few minutes before that, in a different spot (but still backlight), there was enough open space behind me (the "secondary light source") to bring light onto the subject's faces. Exposing for their faces now produces a much more pleasing feeling overall (again, in my opinion). The background not being completely sky or bathed in full sunlight also helps with this.

Lighting is not a one-size-fits all. It’s important to continue to work to understand lighting so you can assess each situation and know how to use the light you have to your advantage. I have so much to learn in this area, and am continually working to grow in my experience and understanding of light.

Now It's Your Turn!

I'm looking forward to seeing all the creative ways you all come up with for photographing this assignment! If you're going to take photos with people in them, I'd challenge you to try it indoors with natural light. If you have any questions along the way, just ask on the forum and we'll do our best to help!

And one last note! One area I did not do well with was leaving room for text on the image! So, learn from my mistake and review the details carefully before photographing this assignment to be sure you’re fulfilling the request. 🙂

So, have at it! Go out and photograph the theme of "motherhood" - can't wait to see your photos!

Get each article as soon as it goes live!

Recommended Ebook


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send the next blog post straight to your email inbox!

Thank you for subscribing!