Jolyn Laney | Laney Photography
Your life naturally photographed

Laney Photography Blog

This blog features photo stories, tips and tricks on photographing your own family, and my thoughts and feelings.

Yes, But...Series: There is clutter everywhere


If there is a horizontal space in my home, I put stuff on it. And there is sits. And once I clean the space, it only stays empty for a day or two. Such is life. I'm not saying, "You have my permission to hoard!" I'm saying, our homes aren't "magazine or Instagram worthy" 24/7 and that's okay. We aren't taking these photos for others. They aren't to put on Zillow to sell your home. They are for you and your family to cherish forever. Don't let clutter be the excuse you have to not get your photos taken in your home. 

I'm always trying to donate and throw away our stuff. I love the minimalist approach to things and am slowly trying to get there, but honestly, the journey has been long. 


I have ways that I've learned to minimize the appearance of mess and clutter in photos and I'll show you those tips for your own photos at home below, but let's take a minute and just think of our childhood.

When you think of your house or your room growing up, do you think of the furniture? Do you think of the toys? Do you think of the items hung on the walls? 

Our STUFF has memories attached to them. Our STUFF has it's own story to tell. Our STUFF has meaning, sometimes only to us. 

My maternal grandmother died in 2012. I didn't get many of her things. I had a few of her necklaces and paintings which are dear to my heart. But I also randomly ended up with one of her forks. This fork is in our drawer now. We use it frequently and every time I see it or wash it, I have memories that pop up of meals in her house. Those memories grow and expand. I don't just think of the meals. I think of their huge garden where many of the ingredients to those meals were grown. I think of the table where we played endless card games. I think of my grandma in her cute apron doing dishes in the sink. I know that kitchen so well, which in turn moves me all around their house. I remember the smells and the player piano in the room with bright blue carpet. I remember the games us cousins played in the basement as we messed up their food storage rotation. I remember the people and the places and it all started with a fork.

What would you give to have a photo of your toy chest? Or the floor of your room covered with a day's worth of play? What about the kitchen you begged for food in with all the school papers and dirty dishes on the counter? What memories would those photos spark for you? 

Your clutter and belongings provide extra layers to the photos. They are each clues to the viewer about the type of family you are, what stage in life you're in and what is important to you.

When we got our family pictures done, our photographer got pictures of the fridge. Our life hangs on that fridge and I'm so happy we have documentation of what our fridge typically looked like in 2017. 


While I am in your home, I will make the decision whether to include the mess or eliminate it in the frame. This all depends on the story I'm trying to tell. These two photos were taken in a very messy room. But he wasn't interacting with the toys and for the purpose I had here, they would just be a distraction.

The view of the mess and the bed without a bed skirt. 

My three tips are these:

1) Get low and shoot up. {This makes the majority of the frame the wall, instead of the messy floor. This is what I did in the two photos above.}
2) Get close. {A close up doesn't show any mess at all. The frame is filled with your kid's face instead.}
3) Blur it out. {If you have a DSLR camera, change the aperture to the lowest number it can do. The lower the number, the less will be in focus.}

I challenge you to try to make the clutter work. A child sitting in a room surrounded by toys is a scene you actually see rather than a child sitting in an empty room.

You're no longer allowed to say, "Yes, but there is clutter everywhere."

Still can't get over the idea of me photographing inside your messy house, don't worry, I get it. Maybe a Slice of Life session is for you! I'll come along with you on a family outing OUTSIDE the home. Hit me up if that's more up your alley.

Need more of your concerns addressed? Check out this Yes, But...Series.