Home is Where the Heart Is: 30 Tips to Find Inspiration to Shoot Photos Everyday at Home

Dear friend,

If you have a hard time finding time or inspiration to go out and shoot– just shoot photos at home!

Why shoot at home?

Simple meal at home with our moms in Lisbon, 2018
Simple meal at home with our moms in Lisbon, 2018

Let’s be real: most of us don’t always have the opportunity to constantly travel, see and experience new and novel things, or break our daily routines of wake up->commute->work->go home->sleep.

For me, the benefit of shooting photos at home is:

  1. Appreciating your loved ones. When we take a photo of our loved ones, we remind ourselves: “Wow, I’m so grateful that I have them in my life, and they are alive.”
  2. Making visual art, regardless of where we are: Most of us make excuses that we don’t have the opportunity or chance to make photos, but if you realize you can make photos at home, we have no more excuses. We have the great opportunity to make photos, regardless of how busy we are in our daily lives!
  3. “Creative constraint” of shooting at home: Of course to us, because we are used to our homes, we think our homes are boring. But if you force yourself to find interesting things at home to shoot, you will actually be able to think more creatively, and find interesting colors, textures, subjects, and objects to photograph at home. Thus the photographer who is able to successfully photograph ordinary things (and make them look interesting) is a great photographer (some examples include Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Martin Parr).

How to find inspiration to shoot at home

My mo filleting a fish, for home made ceviche
My mom filleting a fish, for home made ceviche at home.

Now the more challenging thing:

How do we find inspiration or motivation to shoot while at home?

Some ideas:

1. Wear your camera around your neck at home

Cindy photographed with dutch angle at home. Prague, 2017
Cindy photographed with dutch angle at home. Prague, 2017

When you’re just walking around at home, wear your camera around your neck, like your camera was a necklace.

This is my theory:

The more often you wear your camera around your neck, the more photos opportunities you’re going to see, and thus you’re going to shoot more.

If you’re at home, use the lightest, most compact and light camera.

For example, I use the RICOH GR II and keep the ERIC KIM NECK STRAP always on it.

Assignment: For an entire evening after work, keep your camera around your neck, and see if this motivates you to shoot more at home.

2. Pause, and stop looking at a screen for a moment

Cindy in my friend Alexander's home. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z
Cindy in Alexander’s apartment. Pentax 645Z

When you’re at home, every once in a while, take a break from looking at your screen (whether your tv, laptop, phone, tablet). Then stretch a little bit, walk around, and see what your loved ones, kids, partner, or roommates are up to.

Then take a photo of them.

3. Photograph stuff in the kitchen

Cheese grater at home. Marseille. 2017
Cheese grater at home. Marseille. 2017

Go around your kitchen, and photograph whatever you find interesting. Look for different textured things (cheese graters), shiny reflective silverware, cups, or any ordinary objects.

4. Photograph what is inside your fridge

William Eggleston fridge

Or take photographs of whatever is inside your fridge.

5. Photograph your food and meals

Green beans and cauliflower cooked at home in marseille
Green beans and cauliflower cooked at home in marseille with red plate. Makes the green colors pop more.

Find nice colors in your meals. Experiment with cooking with differently cooked vegetables and use different colored plates.

I love the red-green color combination.

Canard and green beans on red plate. Cooked at home in Marseille, 2017
Canard and green beans on red plate. Cooked at home in Marseille, 2017

6. Photograph your personal life: photograph your memories

Envelopes of film at home, ready to take out the CD’s to transfer to my laptop. Trip from Costco.

You can use whatever camera you want, if simpler, just shoot with your phone.

Use photography at home as a chance to document your everyday life, and document your own life.

For example, whenever you see something at home, ask yourself:

Will looking a photograph of this bring some future joy?

If so, shoot it.

For example, whenever I took a trip to Costco to get film developed, I took a photo of it. Now looking at these older photos, it brings a lot of joy to me.

So don’t treat all your photos as “artwork”— some of the photos you shoot at home can just be like recording your personal memories— stuff that brings a smile to your face.

7. Visual shapes

Cindy resting her eyes with a hotpack after getting a migraine at home (from too little sleep as a Ph.D. student), resting at home at our apartment in Berkeley

Look for different visual forms to shoot:

Shoot photos at home to keep your eyes sharp (keep your visual acuity sharp), for more inspiration buy HOW TO SEE.

8. Do fun activities at home

Cindy making linocuts at home. Berkeley, 2016

For a while Cindy did linocuts at home as a way of exploring her interest in printmaking.

This eventually lead to her making the CITY OF ANGELS art portfolio.

By doing fun activities at home (instead of passive stuff like just watching Netflix), you will find more inspiration and motivation to make photos!

9. Photograph family portraits at home

Dinner at my friend Yves home with my mom and Cindy. Marseille, 2015
Dinner at my friend Yves home with my mom and Cindy. Marseille, 2015

Before you have a meal at home or at the home of a friend, make a family/friend group portrait. Take a step back, and frame the scene well. Try to include objects and ephemera in the background which you find interesting.

10. Photograph the corner of your ceiling

Ceiling corner. Osaka, 2018
Ceiling corner. Osaka, 2018

Practice your composition at home, by looking up, and trying to create more diagonals in your photos. Experiment with different angles, orientations of your camera.

Ceiling corner. Osaka, 2018
Ceiling corner. Osaka, 2018

11. Photograph the clock

Cindy in living room, with clock in background. Osaka, 2018
Cindy in living room, with clock in background. Osaka, 2018

To me, photography is a meditation on life and death. I call it photographic memento mori.

As photographers, we seek to immortalize moments, people, and scenes in our photos.

Thus, the clock is a symbol of time, life, and death.

Shoot photos at home, and include the clock in the background.

12. Photograph your partner getting ready

Cindy putting on red lipstick. Osaka, 2018
Cindy putting on red lipstick. Osaka, 2018

Cindy’s red lipstick is her signature look. Whenever she puts on lipstick, I always try to photograph it — using the macro mode and flash on my RICOH GR II.

Or whenever she is getting ready before we go out to have dinner, I always try to make a photograph of her, and try to make a creative/novel/dynamic composition.

Layered photograph of Cindy getting ready, before going out. Berkeley, 2015

13. Photograph the light setting into your house or living room

cindy project v berkeley
Berkeley, 2015 #cindyproject

Usually when at home, around 6pm, there is epic light that streams into our living room. In these situations I will try to photograph whatever I see interesting at home.

The above photo: I asked Cindy to cover her eye in a “V” shape with her hand, and shot with -1 exposure compensation on RICOH GR II to make the portrait.

14. Photograph your partner before they go to sleep / photograph your bed

About to sleep on our living room couch bed (ikea). Berkeley, 2015
About to sleep on our living room couch bed (ikea). Berkeley, 2015

15. Photograph your partner taking a nap, or photograph your couch

16. Photograph your partner at work

Berkeley, 2015 #cindyproject. Cindy at work, typing on her kinesis keyboard
Berkeley, 2015 #cindyproject. Cindy at work, typing on her kinesis keyboard

An idea: photograph your partner while they’re at home, working on their laptop, or a closeup photo of their hand gestures.

17. Photograph your parents

My mom at my Berkeley Apartment, 2013

Your parents will probably die before you do. If you live with them, photograph them. Or if they come to visit, photograph your time with them.

My mom sleeping on our coach bed. Berkeley, 2016
My mom sleeping on our coach bed. Berkeley, 2016

18. Ask your partner to take photos of you

R0001114eric and mom
Teaching my mom how to use her smartphone / Berkeley, 2015 (photo by Cindy A. Nguyen)

If you’re with a loved one at home, ask your partner to take photos of you — to document a certain moment you like.

19. Document moving into a new home, or moving out.

eric kim photography - cindy project - film - 35mm - leica mp - kodak- portra - 40034
When we first moved into our new apartment in Berkeley, 2015

Most of us don’t live in a certain home, house, or apartment forever. Be very diligent to make photos at home during the moving in and moving out process, as a way to record your own life, and document your personally meaningful life moments. Whenever I look at old photos of me moving in and out with Cindy it brings great joy to me — I reflect how far I’ve come in life, and all the fun experiences we had in the different homes we lived in.

20. Photograph your living room

My berkeley apartment with Cindy, 2015

21. Photograph your coffee machine or tea setup

My $2 espresso machine. Berkeley, 2015

Of course.

22. Shoot film at home

Berkeley, 2015 #cindyproject

Shoot with a film camera at home, to get a more nostalgic and old school look. I think the aesthetics of film will always look more beautiful than digital.

23. Shoot your front door


Photograph the keyhole, the knocker, or anything in front of your door.

24. Photograph your loved ones as models!

Preview from STREET HUNT: photograph your loved ones

Even though your passion might be street photography, an assignment from STREET HUNT:

Do a mini-photo shoot of your loved ones at home.

Play dress up. Shoot from low and edgy angles. Change around your perspective, and have fun!

25. Shoot while lying on the ground

Cindy red hand on face, floor, Kyoto
Kyoto, 2016 #cindyproject

To get a more unique perspective in photography, shoot photos while lying on your stomach (or back) at home.

26. Photograph your partner (or yourself) in the shower/bathroom

Hanoi, 2016 #cindyproject black and white shower blurry
Hanoi, 2016 #cindyproject

Keep it abstract, no need to show nudity (only if you want).

27. Minimalist compositions.

Cindy minimalist composition, her in bathroom. Hanoi, 2017
Cindy minimalist composition, her in bathroom. Hanoi, 2017

Practice minimalist compositions with your subject at home.

Also to simplify your photos, shoot high contrast jpeg, or shoot RAW and use ERIC KIM MONOCHROME 1600 preset.

28. Photograph the moment you wake up

Also another fun idea: photograph, video, or document your own morning routine.

29. Shoot selfies of yourself at home

If you’re single, or don’t have roommates at home, just shoot selfies of yourself!

30. Shoot reflections in the mirrors at home

And also get your selfie in the photograph (HONOR THY SELFIE).

Never stop shooting; find inspiration everywhere

Silhouette of Cindy. Prague, 2018
Silhouette of Cindy. Prague, 2018

This is my theory:

The more we shoot, the happier we will be as photographers and human beings.

So let us not feel discouraged. Just because we aren’t always traveling — this doesn’t mean we cannot shoot everyday!

Shoot everyday at home, during your commute, or on the streets.

Don’t overthink it. Don’t worry about making “good” or “bad” photos, and don’t care whether people on social media will “like” it. JUST SHOOT IT to proclaim your joy for being alive, and finding beauty everywhere in your everyday life.

For more inspiration to shoot photos at home and to build your own visual acuity, pick up a copy of HOW TO SEE.


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