SmugMug Indoor Challenge: Learn to take these 10 photos when you’re sheltering at home.

In this time of intense change in our world, we’re all trying to adjust to a new lifestyle and finding new ways to occupy our attention while sheltering at home. There’s plenty of photography that can be done right in your very own home so we’re bringing you ten photo challenges to try and master. 

Share your creations with us as a carousel on Facebook or on Instagram with the hashtag #SmugMug10IndoorChallenge and we’ll share some of our favorites.

And, if you take all 10 photo types, you’ll be entered to win a free year of SmugMug (your choice of subscription type). Photos must be taken between March 23rd and April 6th. You'll have until Sunday, April 12th to share your photos with us.

1. Water droplets or splash photos.

What you’ll need:  A tripod, a flash, and a sponge or towel

Taking splash photos is a uniquely fun challenge. Put some water in a bowl, point your camera at an angle to the bowl and drop water into the bowl. Darken the room and use the flash to capture the splash. A fast shutter like 1/200 sec will freeze the action. Experiment with different apertures, using colored bowls, and the timing. It takes practice but you’ll get the hang of it.

Water Drop by Michael TO
"Water Drop" by Michael TO is licensed under CC BY 2.0. (

2. Food.

What you’ll need: Food, tripod or steady hands.

We all still need to eat, and if you’re staying at home, you might have time on your hands to take photos when the light is optimal vs. being stuck in an office all day or in a car during a commute. Use a window or glass door to provide back or side lighting. Move a table near the light source if needed. Experiment with using cutting boards or other trays below the food. Also experiment with angle, sometimes above the photo can be nice but other lower angles show the food differently. 

Country Loaf (Sourdough) by Aaron Meyers
"Country Loaf (Sourdough)" by Aaron Meyers. (

3. LEGO figures or micro-scenes. 

What you’ll need: LEGOs or mini-figurines, macro lens, tripod.

What’s more fun than taking photos? Making something and then taking a photo of it! Use LEGOs or another toy to create your own scene and then take a photo of it. Using a macro lens can create some fun photos, or wait till golden hour and put your creation outside and use the soft, glowing light to your benefit.

Lego by mczonk
"Lego Drawf" by mczonk is licensed under CC BY 2.0. (

4. Your loved one(s).

What you’ll need: Your loved one(s).

Many of us already take photos of friends and family frequently as part of documenting our lives but for this challenge, grab a loved one and put them next to a window or glass door and use natural sidelight to create dramatic lighting. Morning or evening light works best but you can always diffuse harsher light with a white window screen or sheer curtain. Have them face towards the window at a 45-degree angle so the light hits their face just right.

Family Portraits by andre_anna
"Family Portraits" by andre_anna is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. (

5. Jewelry.

What you’ll need: Favorite piece of jewelry or collection of pieces, white cloth or sheet.

Put your jewelry on a white cloth, sheet, paper or towel and position it near a window. Soft natural lighting will look better than using a flash, which will direct harsh light off the shiny parts of the jewelry. If you want to hang the jewelry, tape a piece of paper to cardboard and then hang the jewelry on that. Putting your camera on a tripod will let you adjust the jewelry without having to futz with the camera. Try different aperture settings to play with the depth of field.

Cuff Links by Lisa Pinehill
"Cuff Links" by Lisa Pinehill is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. (

6. Something Macro 

What you’ll need: Macro lens, something interesting.

If you’ve got a macro lens, now’s the time to take it out and use it while we’re staying in our homes. Using a tripod can help ensure you get your focus right and also eliminate camera shake if your shutter speeds have to get a bit longer than you can hand-hold. Experiment with aperture, as you want a shallow depth of field, but not too narrow that nothing is in focus. Spraying a little water on foliage can add to the photo. If owning a macro lens is too expensive, you can pick up a “reversing ring,” which allows you to flip your lens around and connect it to your camera in reverse, allowing you to get close to your subject.

Photo by Bruno Malfondet
Photo taken by Bruno Malfondet is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. (

7. Spiders or other insects. 

What you’ll need: Macro or telephoto lens, insects.

Let’s be honest, these critters can be creepy but they can make for some amazing photos as well. They’re best photographed with a macro lens but a telephoto lens will work too (so you can stay far back). Wait for your subject to stay still and quickly take the photo.

Photo by steve p2008
Photo by steve p2008 is licensed under CC BY 2.0. (

8. Sun star through the foliage. 

What you’ll need: Morning or evening sun, some branches or leaves.

While not technically inside, we all need a little fresh air to stay mentally healthy. While the sun is out, place it behind some branches or leaves and use a small aperture (like f/16) to create a star. The smaller the aperture the bigger the star. Experiment with different lenses as they each have their own shape for the star.

descending by Hannes Flo
"descending" by Hannes Flo is licensed under CC BY 2.0. (

9. Clone something. 

What you’ll need: Tripod, possibly a 2nd set of hands.

Create the illusion that you or another object has been cloned all over the photo. You can do this easily in 1 of 2 ways: either with photoshop or with a flash. Put your camera on a tripod and take a photo, then move and take another. Keep repeating this. If you’re doing the flash method it can be done in one long exposure: put a flash on your camera and set the shutter to something long like 30 seconds, then have someone manually fire the flash as you move around.

clones by Hayley Turner
"clones" by Hayley Turner is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. (

10. Bokeh.

What you’ll need: Spots of bright, precise light.

Bokeh (pronounced bo-kay) is the way your lens displays out-of-focus light and it’s most visible when lights in the background aren’t in focus. You can create the effect by either manually adjusting your focus or by placing an object in the foreground with lights in the background. Set your aperture to something wide-open (like f/2.8). Longer focal lengths create more bokeh, as does placing more distance between the foreground and the background.

rite of passage - Christmas Bokeh by zen whisk
"rite of passage - Christmas Bokeh" by zen whisk is licensed under CC BY 2.0. (

Remember to stay safe and stay indoors or near home (in conjunction with whatever your local ordinance is asking you to do). We can’t wait to see the new photos that you take and don’t forget to use the hashtag #SmugMug10IndoorChallenge when you’re sharing your carousel with us by Sunday, April 12th on social for a chance to win a SmugMug subscription. Good luck and have fun!

Written by SmugMug

Mar 23, 2020 · 6 min read

Similar Articles

white backdrop baby1 by henley design studio

Which color background is best for portraits?

By SmugMug · July 9, 2020 · 4 min read

CPL Hero

CPL lens filter: Ultimate guide for photographers

By SmugMug · July 8, 2020 · 5 min read

kids laying next to a selection of tripods

6 Tips for Choosing a Camera Tripod

By SmugMug · June 24, 2020 · 3 min read