Lifestyle Photography Indoors: Tips from Kim Hildebrand

Family lifestyle photograph of parents and kids on the couch. Taken by Kim Hildebrand

Illuminating Spaces: Indoor Lifestyle Photography with Kim Hildebrand

Harness the beauty of indoor lifestyle photography with a splash of artificial light! Join us as we delve into the secrets of using artificial lighting to create warm, inviting, and vibrant images indoors. We sit down with Kim Hildebrand, a seasoned family, and newborn photographer, to get her insights and learn from her journey from digital back to film.

Family lifestyle photo of parents and kids hugging and laughing by Kim Hildebrand

Crafting Light, Creating Memories

In the dynamic world of photography, artificial light plays a pivotal role, especially when it comes to indoor settings. Indoor environments often come with lighting challenges, such as low light conditions or unflattering fluorescent lighting. Artificial light can be the perfect ally, ensuring your subjects are beautifully lit and your work remains consistently stunning.

Diptych of Kim Hildebrand's family lifestyle photography

Meet the Expert: Kim Hildebrand, Moment Maker

Kim Hildebrand isn't just a photographer; she's a storyteller, and a moment maker with over a decade of experience capturing the essence of family and newborns. With a new online lighting course set to launch, Kim aims to empower photographers to confidently embrace indoor shoots, no matter the lighting challenge.

Kim Hildebrand's lifestyle photograph of kids sitting upside down on the couch with their dog


The Interview: Shining a Light on Lifestyle Photography Techniques

We explore Kim's approach to photography, from her client communication strategies to her in-home session preparations. She shares her creative process and the evolution of her techniques.

RPL: What is your approach to working with subjects or models?

KH: I use a CRM platform that has a lot of automated workflows to maximize client touchpoints. And I’m old school, after the initial inquiry, I schedule a 15-minute phone call to see if we’re a good fit and take time to get to know the client.

RPL: How do you prepare for a photography session?

KH: I ensure I have all my film packs unwrapped and ready to go. Along with my cameras, charged batteries, and flash unit.

One of my favorite things to do during the prep stage (and I recommend this for anyone shooting in-home) is doing a pre-session walk-through once I get there. I love asking the kids to show me around their homes, it not only helps break the ice but allows me to see what matters to these families.

Kim Hildebrand's lifestyle photograph of twin boys in their cribs sharing their giraffe toy

The Game Changer: Artificial Light Indoors

Learn about Kim's transition from outdoor sessions to intimate in-home shoots, where she finds creative freedom within the constraints of different environments. Her practical workflow and the pivotal role of flash units indoors offer a fresh perspective on creating consistent and beautiful light.

RPL: How has your technique evolved over the years?

KH: I used to have an indoor studio when I lived in Seattle, and although it was great for those unpredictable weather days, I found it to be too much of a blank space. Working in homes, allows me to tell a story with their environment.

The pre-session walk-throughs sparks my creative process. Having the families show me around, learning where they spend most of their time, and seeing what is important to them inspires my approach to how I want to shoot.

My biggest a-ha moment was using a flash unit indoors to create a beautiful and consistent light that allowed me to move around and be flexible.

Kim Hildebrand's lifestyle photograph of families with their children

Educating the Eye: Lighting for Lifestyle Online Course

Kim's upcoming course, Lighting for Lifestyle, is more than just a tutorial—it's a comprehensive journey through her specialized system for shooting film with flash indoors. The course promises to demystify flash photography, making it accessible for all who dare to redefine their indoor photography approach.

RPL: Your newest online education course is launching at the end of this month, can you tell us more about Lighting for Lifestyle?

KH: Part of my journey was re-discovering my love of film and also realizing that I really loved shooting in-home lifestyle work, which posed a new problem. After leaving my studio, I was left with the problem of figuring out how to shoot film in people's homes and most homes/apartments/condos just don’t have enough light or space. With my 15 years of experience working with artificial light - primarily strobes and large modifiers, I rediscovered the flexibility and portability of using flash in my photography. I found that I could shoot a full lifestyle session in 4-5 rooms and create gorgeous light, and this is all with a set-up that costs less than $300! It was a big a-ha moment for me and I wanted to share this technique with everyone struggling with film inside. Shooting film in a home, especially if it’s paid work, is super scary and intimidating, and so is flash, but it doesn’t have to be!

So Lighting for Lifestyle is a 6-week online course that walks you through my specific step-by-step system for shooting film with flash inside. It includes 8 modules with lots of supplemental materials, at least 8 shooting videos, several bonuses, and homework to put your new knowledge into practice. It launches 1/19 and the first Module drops 1/29.

If folks want to learn more about using flash in-home with film, they can grab my Illuminate 12-page Guide showing five before and after transformations with flash. It also includes a flash flowchart to get them started.

RPL: Do you have any tips for someone who is just getting into film


Tip 1: Get an external light meter,

Tip 2: Choose one film stock and shoot with it for one month - I highly recommend Portra 400 because it's versatile and forgiving,

Tip 3: As you’re practicing, write your settings down! This is invaluable to help you learn.

Tip 4: Choose a reputable lab and stick with them. They become your strategic partner and are an integral part of your team.

Tip 5: If you want to shoot with film professionally, practice a ton, and when you feel ready, set up some model sessions to prove you can do it!

If people want a new challenge for 2024, they can grab my free Intro to Film Cheat Sheet. It's a five-page guide to get them started!

Kim Hildebrand's lifestyle photograph of a family walking through their house

Kim's Favorite Kodak Film Stocks

The versatile Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Ektar 100 (especially for those summer months), and the classic Kodak Gold 200.

Kim Hildebrand's lifestyle images of kids in their homes

The Richard Photo Lab Commitment

At Richard Photo Lab, we stand by photographers like Kim, offering personalized services to enhance your skills. From Color PACs to detailed film reports, we're more than just a lab—we're your partners in the art of photography.

Feeling inspired to shoot film indoors? Stock up on film here.

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