In visual businesses such as real estate, architecture and interior design, having impactful photos is vital to showcasing your product. Unfortunately, shooting interiors can be tricky – trying to decide the best angles or worrying about perfect lighting. However, I’ve found that some basic principles can make all the difference between mediocre and outstanding.
Own the Room – Although it’s always my intention to maintain the integrity of the design produced by the architect and interior designer, it’s still the photographer’s job, my job, to ensure that the space looks perfect. Sometimes unique accessories just don’t translate well through the lens, clutter the shot or create strange shadows. The shot may still need to be “staged.” Move the stack of books on the table to a different corner or the pillows from the sofa to the chair. The ottoman may need to be off-center so you can see the detail of the rug. Whatever it might be, preserve the overall feel, while making sure what needs to be highlighted is prominent. I like to immerse myself in the space and almost own it for the time I am there. In particular, small spaces that have strange angles may need to have a piece of furniture moved so that I can be exactly where I want to be to get the shot.
Let the sun shine in – I always recommend shooting with the most natural light possible. It’s really one of my favorite challenges of photography – to create a shot that preserves the natural light in the space. I make sure to scout the room at different times of day to see where shadows fall or what is spotlighted in a beam of sunshine to ensure that I capture the mood and features I’m after. I may need to adjust furniture or accessories slightly or move them into or out of shadows. I also open the window coverings and doors fully or partly to experiment with how those affect the lighting.
Get some perspective – I take the time to see the space from all sides to choose the best way to capture the notable features. Once I find a focal point, then I choose the best angle to configure my composition. It is imperative to keep the camera level. If the lens isn’t straight it can distort the shot. Some of this can be mitigated in Photoshop, but there are limitations. Using a tripod. cable release and a hot-shoe mounted level will help keep the shots straight and also eliminate any possible blur that might occur from the subtle push of the shutter button.
Be in the know – Even for those who aren’t professional photographers, improvements can still be made to even basic interior photos if you know about RAW photography and aperture. Shooting in RAW mode leaves your photos the least “compressed” and allows more control over the final image, should post-production be necessary. Aperture, is the size of the opening where light is allowed to enter the camera and expose the sensor. The larger the number, the smaller the opening. As the opening narrows depth of field, or the amount of the image that is focus, increases. When shooting close-ups, the amount of aperture will affect the depth and sharpness of objects in the background. If you want all of the objects to be in focus, then you’ll want a larger aperture number. Smaller aperture designations can be a good choice too. Especially if the background isn’t something wanted or needed to be seen in detail.
Be Focused, But Free – I like to have a clear understanding of the parts of an image I am trying to highlight in any given shot, but ultimately, photography is a creative process. I always plan to take a ton of shots so that I can be open to some experimenting. Maybe shooting without the focal point as the focal point might be intriguing or finding some interesting details for a close-up to create some great shots to complement the main, whole-space shots. I call them nuances.
With a little forethought and time during a photo shoot to look at the overall area and the details, you can improve your interior photography immensely. However, for professional use, you may find that you still need the expertise of a professional photographer. Call me at Architectural Photography and we can work together to ensure that your work is highlighted with impactful images. 888-788-5554.