Tips for Photo Shoots in Confined Spaces

Every photographer dreams of spacious, convenient photo shoot locations. If only life was that simple. In the real world, there are often cases where the artist needs to shoot from a very confined space—sometimes leading to composing without even looking through the viewfinder or the screen. Photographer and film director Jay P. Morgan demonstrates how such challenges can be tackled and how you can use confined spaces as a creative tool to spice up your images:

In confined spaces, you can sometimes get interesting point of view if the camera is placed in the right place. Here are some tips from Morgan for when you need to make use of confined spaces for your photo or video work:

  • Use an external monitor or tether the camera. When you place your camera in very confined spaces (e.g. inside of a mail box or a refrigerator for a creative or commercial shot) it’s not possible for you to see how the shot is being framed, as you lose access to the viewfinder/LCD screen. In such cases, you can use an external monitor and place it at the side or the top of the camera to get the composition of your liking. This can be a good alternative to tethering, as a cable can get in the way when taking wide angle shots. However, if you’re fine with drilling holes in the places to get the wires out of the way, tethering can be a good option as it allows you to have control over the settings of the camera from the computer.

external monitor in confined space

  • Get a platform to level and compose properly. By making use of a platform like the one that Morgan demonstrates in the video, you can attach a ball head on the camera allowing you to have great control over level and composition. If you’re on a budget, use a sandbag or a bean bag to place your camera.

platform for confined space

  • Manage your focus. By pre-determining where the subject is going to be, you can manually set the focus on the lens. As Morgan demonstrates, if the subject is about 2.5 feet away from the camera, he sets the focus manually at 2.5 feet. Also, keep in mind that the depth of field is quite shallow when the subject is very near to the camera. So, avoid using a wide aperture and opt for a narrower aperture instead, like f/6.3, as it will allow the subject to move around while being in focus.
  • Portable lighting. Lighting can be an issue when shooting in confined spaces, which tend to be darker. To make sure that the subject is well lit when in front of the camera, portable lighting solutions like small LED tape or LED light panels can be placed in the confined space near the camera.

lighting subject in confined space

If you’re working for a commercial production and you need to get the work done quickly, these tips can help you in run and gun situations. Plus, it gives you a very unique and engaging view that increases the viewers’ interest.

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