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5 Photography Tips for Taking Better Pictures Inside of Your Home

Do you wish you had better photos of the inside of your home? Photographing an interior sounds like a fairly easy task, however, creating a successful photo is actually much harder than one would think.  It takes practice to convert a three dimensional space to a two-dimensional photograph. Here are five tips that I’ve learned over the years as a photo art director that might help your process:

1. Choose a focal point in the room inside your home

The biggest mistake a designer or photographer can make is to try to squeeze too many points of emphasis into one photo. This can make a photo look crowded and leave the viewer unsure of what they should be paying attention to in the first place.

Magazines tend to be successful with imagery because they compose their shots around one object or structure. There is a difference between documenting a space and photographing it with graphic focal points. Instead of stuffing an image full of furniture or other design elements, try to choose one main space to focus composition. For example, this could be a bed, fireplace, or a window.

Marvin IOFD int 600x602 5 Photography Tips for Taking Better Pictures Inside of Your Home

Here, the doors leading outside are the focal point. The furniture on the sides help direct your attention to the back of the image. Designed by Barbara Schmidt, bstyle, inc.

2. Edit yourself

Interior photography is about taking a room and turning it into an image that makes visual sense. De-clutter the space so the camera can see enough of what is there to enable the viewer to recognize the objects. Be careful to watch what happens when furniture or décor comes close to the camera because they can bend and expand into strange shapes. Try taking away items and then putting them back to see what the camera sees. Remember that a photo is not real representation of space; it is a representation of what the camera sees.

13 Rockford Painted White 3 600x725 5 Photography Tips for Taking Better Pictures Inside of Your Home

In this photo, the kitchen table was removed so the camera could take the perfect shot. If the table hadn't been moved, parts of the stools would have been blocked and a portion of the table would been awkwardly shown at the bottom of the image. Photo from CliqStudios.com.

3. Incorporate patterns inside your home when photographing

One of the tricks art directors and photo editors use to enhance the graphic quality of a photo is utilizing pattern. Patterned wall covering or fabrics offer an opportunity to add interest and framing for the photo. The eye sees pattern as a background and everything that is against it stands out and visa versa. Patterns frame solid objects just like solids frame patterned objects. Patterns are also on trend right now in interior design and the use of these keeps interior shots fresh and modern.

5 Carlton Painted Vanilla 2 600x400 5 Photography Tips for Taking Better Pictures Inside of Your Home

Notice the patterns on the floor and the ceiling. These help frame the attention on the painted cabinets. Photo from CliqStudios.com.

4. Include directional lighting

Lighting techniques trend just like room styles do. A popular trend in interior photography today is to use as much natural light as possible and to limit the use of strobe lighting. Natural light has a greater variance in density which influences subtle highlights and low lights to appear as they would in real life.

Over lighting a room is another very common problem with interior photos. When the light is not directional and is allowed to fill every shadow, the room becomes flat and uninteresting. Try using highlights and lowlights to help create a more real, unique look. Purposely creating shadows in the photograph also adds dimension, contrast, and a focal point for the viewer (see the included photo).

Natural light is difficult to mimic and over the years, I’ve only seen a handful of photographers able to trick the viewer into thinking a shot was natural lit. Remember that natural light always has a directional source.

13 Rockford Painted White 6b 600x452 5 Photography Tips for Taking Better Pictures Inside of Your Home

Natural lighting coming from the left side of the picture adds depth and realness to this photo. Notice the shadows on the cabinets and flooring. Photo from CliqStudios.com.

5. Shoot at eye level

When photographing a room, the most natural viewpoint is to shoot it at eye-level, meaning anywhere in the human range of motion. For example, standing, kneeling, or sitting positions are all great angles to shoot from.

Shooting from too low of an angle or too high of an angle can immediately make the shot look unnatural and awkward.  As soon as you start climbing up a ladder to take a photo, you’ll notice that you’ve never seen the room that way before, and neither has anyone else. All of sudden the angle of the shot is the focal point and not the subject matter itself. Keeping a shot eye-level makes the photograph seem natural and livable.

4 Rockford Cherry Kafe 2 600x616 5 Photography Tips for Taking Better Pictures Inside of Your Home

This photo shows how an image can look great from within any range of human motion. This image could be from a kneeling adult or the eyes of a child. It does a great job of showcasing the beautiful countertop surface. Photo from CliqStudios.com

Barbara Schmidt works with a number of national manufacturers including CliqStudios.com, online suppliers of kitchen cabinets, and is a nationally recognized interior designer for bstyle, inc., photo art director, and author whose work is featured in numerous publications, social media, and television.

9 Comments

  1. 1
    Karen says:

    Thank you – that was helpful! I was just trying to capture my Christmas-decorated rooms (and coming up short!). I’m going to go back now and try again.

  2. 2
    Rowena says:

    Thanks for the advice! This is one area I’ve always felt I needed help with.

  3. 3
    Allie Miller says:

    Really helpful BLOG for the day.. Thank you JODI!

  4. 4
    Dawn says:

    The title is a bit misleading. When I read “better pictures INSIDE your home” I was hoping for tips on photographing my family indoors without dealing with either harsh flash, graininess from high ISO, or blurry pics. But this is geared toward pictures OF the inside of your home. I’ll keep these tips in mind for our future renovations projects tho, since I’ll be wanting to document those!

    • 4.1
      Steve says:

      Pictures can mean any type of pictures. What you’re looking for is “taking better portraits inside of your home”.

  5. 5
    Jai Catalano says:

    Good article. Blending exposures will help in case people are a bit more advanced.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. 6
    Abby says:

    Great information in this blog – thanks for sharing.

  7. 7
    Allie Miller says:

    I love photography of rooms.. and this article hit the spot!

  8. 8
    Cristina Lee says:

    Thanks for the info. Very helpful. I love your blog!

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