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4 ways to create moody indoor portraits

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You're skimming through your Instagram feed, or possibly silently stalking a Facebook photography group, when you come across an artist who catches your eye and you completely become mesmerized in their work.

Their work demonstrates lots of contrast, shadows, mood, and emotion that captivates any audience.

The type of work that fuels your creativity.

The type of work that ignites your passion.

The type of work you long to create.

Then you wonder, "how can I achieve this look in my work??"

Well my friend, I've got some exciting news for you!

Creating moody, or high contrast, photos can seem like an art of it's own, but actually quite simple to achieve if you follow a few guidelines.

In this blog, we will be outlining a few simple ways to add more mood, contrast, and drama to your indoor portraits, so let's dig right in!




The first and foremost ingredient you need to know about to create moody indoor photos is your light. Light is everything in photography and the key component to creating moody portraits.

Too much light and your photos will take on a more bright tone, and too little light will produce a bad photo.

The most simple way to achieve this is by using directional window light, preferably without another light source in the background. By illuminating your subject with the window light, you will creating shadows in the background.

Play around with how close your subject is to the light source. Really close equals extra moody. Further away, less moody because of the distance to the light.



Even for indoor window light, the quality, which can be determined by the weather outside, will most definitely play a role in the moodiness of your images.

A bright and sunny day will create more harsh shadows in the background while giving off a more rich and crisp photograph, while an overcast day will ensure more even and mellow dark tones throughout the image.

Can you tell which photograph was taken on a sunny day and which was taken on an overcast day?



Your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture also play a crucial role in how moody your images will look.

ISO, or how sensitive your sensor is to light, should be set and determined based on your end result goals and how much light & clarity you want in your photograph.

By having your aperture wide open, you'll be able to focus more on the subject than on the environment as a whole. It will also allow more light into your camera sensor if the light is low.

Your shutter speed will play a big role as well since this will be how much you want to freeze with moving subjects.

When combined, all three of these factors can be manipulated and changed depending on the type of photo you have in mind.



When all is said and done and you have the image the way you envisioned, you now have an opportunity to amplify the mood of your images through your post-production editing.

In Lightroom, you can do this by adjusting your develop sliders and tone curve.

Adding contrast, increasing shadows, and toning down highlights can quickly add a boost of mood to your images.

Presets can also quickly and efficiently enhance your editing and final product with speed and ease. Our Recollections preset pack is the perfect tool to achieving your best indoor moody photos, whatever your photographic style might be!


If you find yourself struggling with your photos and haven't figured out this tricky thing called lighting, then I invite you to check out out natural light guide, The Perfect shot.

It's chock full of simply & easy to apply information to take your photography to the next level. Grab it now while it's on sale!

how do you envision on using what you've learned today in creating more moody photos that your creative side craves? tell us in the comments below & start the discussion!

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