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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.