As interior designers, we need professional and well lit pictures of completed projects for our portfolios, websites, blogs, or even for advertising. They are a tangible evidence of our skills; they work better than reviews in my honest opinion.
What if you don’t have a budget to hire a professional photographer to do take pictures of those spaces for you?
Well, you DIY of course! My friend Orana is an epic creative who is here to give us some tips on how to take indoor pictures of our work and have them look professional!
Here’s what she has to say about indoor photography:
Shooting indoor spaces is all about atmosphere and capturing the feeling of a room. The same space, photographed at two different times of day can give the viewer completely different sensations.
When shooting interiors, it is best to first decide what kind of atmosphere you want to portray in the photo and then take the photos having that idea in mind.
Look at the space from many angles, not just one corner. Remember that you have free artistic license to move that flower vase five inches to the left, or change that red pillow for a green one. The best tip I can give you for photographing interior spaces is to give your creative eye complete freedom.
Like a very good artist friend of mine would say, “Make sure your eyes are happy”.
To learn how to let your creativity flow, you have to practice and try lots of different things. To be able to do that, first you need a technical base to use as a guide.
Today I will share with you five PRACTICAL tips that will help improve your indoor photography. By using these guides, you can let your interior design shine through your photography and beyond.
1. Natural Light is Always Best
One thing all photographers know, is that natural light is always best. Of course there are exceptions, like if you need to photograph an interior at night or if there is a lit fireplace, but the general rule is to “first try only with natural light!”.
The general guide for indoor photography, even if at night and with a fireplace is that there are no “too light” areas or “too dark” areas; unless of course you are going for a very dramatic theatrical feel. For magazine style shots, this is usually not the case so let’s stay on track and with natural light.
How to best use natural light in your interior photography
- Choose a time of day when the room is nicely lit with the curtains open but the sun is NOT shining through too brightly creating a white rectangle on the ground or wall. If the sun is too bright, leave the sheer curtains closed and the drapes open. If there are blinds, close them slightly. If the sun is still creating a rectangle of light or lines of light in the room, wait for another time of day.
- Turn off all the electric lights. If your photo includes a piece of another room in the background, check how dark or light that area is. You might want to open all the curtains in the other room so that the area is not too dark.
- Use a tripod. I will dedicate an entire section to the tripod but in this instance you need it for the long exposure I will mention next.
- Set your camera to long exposure and make sure there is no air currents moving pillow frills or curtain edges. Also make sure no one walks by creating any shadows. Try different exposures, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, or even 30 seconds if the room is specially dark on its own.
2. Use a Tripod
If you don’t have a tripod, even if you are using an iPhone for your photos; I suggest you get one straight away. A tripod is the only thing that will ensure that your photos aren’t blurry. You can never fully trust your steady hand, as hardly any photographers ever do. You might not need a large-scale tripod; there are many different kinds.
Assess your style of indoor photography; are you shooting details or entire rooms?
Do you use a have DSLR camera or your iPhone?
Pick the tripod that will help you take better photos, not the one that will burden you. You don’t need a three thousand dollar Manfrotto for your phone for example.
There are a few reasons why you need a tripod for your indoor photography
- You don’t want blurry photos. There is nothing worse than a blurry photo when what you really wanted was a crisp image showing off your interior decoration prowess. With a tripod you can be sure that your photos come out how they are supposed to.
- You can leave the aperture open longer to take better advantage of the natural light in the room. Never ever will a photo come out crisp when using long exposure and a handheld camera. It just won’t happen, your hands move as you breathe.
3. Move things Around, and Take things Out from the Frame
The magic of interior photography is how much creative license you have when creating the perfect shot. Let’s say you just finished remodeling that gorgeous corner of your bedroom with the refurbished side table and the Asian throw blanket on the bed but last night you connected your dirty phone cable to charge your iPhone or you blew your nose in the middle of the night and the tissues are on the floor.
Nothing is Unmovable!
Get rid of the cables, pick up the tissues! Does your bed look a little empty on the edge? Bring that colorful pillow over from the loveseat. Does the table look a little empty? Bring that succulent from the kitchen and put in next to the lamp. You call all the shots here, don’t be afraid to add items to create the perfect atmosphere!
You might have noticed that sometimes getting the perfect shot can get a little tricky with the space, especially if the room is small. If there is a potted plant in your way of a great angle, move the plant!
What’s not in the frame doesn’t matter (as long as you check all reflections for anything that might show). When the room is too small you can also photograph through the door. Sometimes you really have to put the camera against the wall to get the best shot.
If you decide to use a wide-angle lens to capture more of the space, make sure you check the verticality of the objects. You don’t want to the lines to be rounded at the edges, that is a big no no! The following tips are all about lines and composition.
4. Use an Imaginary Grid to Compose the Image
As a designer you know the importance of composition and balance, the same applies to photography.
When photographing interiors, be it entire rooms or details and corners, make sure the straight lines are always straight and the floor and ceiling look natural and not rounded (unless of course it is that way). If using your phone, you can choose to take the photo with the grid option on and set up the shot using that as a guide.
Get your eyes used to “seeing” a grid
When composing your photograph, use windows, wall corners, and furniture edges to set up the invisible grids. If the edge of the ceiling is one horizontal line, the shelf below it can be another, the top of the sofa another and the floor rug another. The window shutter can be one vertical line, the standing lamp another line and the plant in the corner another line.
Using all these guides, visualize the squares that are created in the space. Center objects inside squares. Remember you can move things around to fit the grid! By visualizing this grid you can compose the image to be visually appealing.
An extremely important aspect of grid composing, is leaving “air” or empty spaces. Blank wall spaces, empty floor areas, large windows with a blurred landscape in the back; these are all airy spaces in your photograph that will not only help the composition but also give you or your graphic designer space to add some copy to use in your marketing materials or website.
5. Simple is Better / Less is More
When creating the setting for your photograph, remember that less is more. There is no need to over saturate the space with things or use an unnecessary amount of color or over complicated lighting.
If the room has been designed to be full of eye-candy, like lots of paintings, pillows, throws, rugs, books, trinkets etc; then make sure your lighting is spectacularly clean and even. A very busy room with hard shadows will look more like a dramatic movie scene than an interior design shot.
No need to go crazy on the angles
When setting up your camera and tripod, stick to the classic positions; straight ahead, from a corner maybe a little angled to grab a little mood.
There is no need to go crazy and turn the camera at a weird angle that will ultimately warp the overall look of the room. The idea of indoor photography is to grab the mood, so the angle you choose for the shot will affect that. Keep it simple, let the room speak for itself.
I wouldn’t add anything to that; I’ve learned so much from this, I bet you have too 😉
Here’s a bit about Orana
Orana is an artist of many trades currently working as a Graphic Designer for bloggers and small businesses. Her love of art and travel create the perfect artist nomad combination. Orana founded Orana Creative to help freelancers, solopreneurs and bloggers master a better visual strategy. She is passionate about eye happiness and loves constructive criticism.
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