With the rise in interior design websites and blogs, the need for excellent interior photography and expert 3D renderings of inside spaces is at an all time high.
Alongside eye-catching initial designs, architecture firms, real estate agents, restaurants, cafes and hotels must get their interior photography right or risk being lost in the crowd. To help you keep up with the trend, here are our top 10 interior photography tips …
Interior image from ‘Dark’ by Olafs Barons
1. Go and stand in the corner
But don’t face the wall. Squashing yourself as tightly into the corner as you can go will give you the widest perspective of the interior before you, allowing you to capture more of what makes it special. Try all of the corners of every space to see what the perspective from each of them is like. Some interior design photographers press their camera against the wall to get as wide an angle as possible.
Interior photographer Vaibhav Kapadi maximised the space in this image of the Maxus Multiplex in Mumbai by shooting from the corner
2. It’ll be alright with good light
Interior photography lighting is so important that it’s almost a specialism in itself. You need to balance the lighting so there are no overly dark shadows or overly bright highlights. Use the light that is available to you in the room – lamps, overhead lighting, fireplaces, and natural light from windows. Play around with different combinations of lights to try to achieve the best for every space. As a general rule, you are looking for soft lighting, so try shooting with natural light from the windows during the photography ‘golden hours’ – early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
3. Organise the space prior to the shoot
Don’t just start shooting the interior at random – think about the image you want to capture before taking the photographs. Add features to a room to create a certain atmosphere, if you think the scene on its own is dull. Some carefully placed cushions or a stack of newspapers can give your interior photography some much needed character. Walk around the space and get a feel for it before implementing the interior photography tips in this article.
PRO TIP – LINA SKUKAUSKE
Add details to give character and focus, as in this shot from interior photographer Lina Skukauske
“When starting on an interior photography project, you first need to think through what is the end goal of it? Each client and each image have different requirements and things to consider. How will those shots be used? Do you need to leave some space for graphic designers to put copy? How much creative freedom will you have?
For example, if you’re shooting for an interior designer’s portfolio, you will have to discuss what it is that the designer wants to show – is it the elements that were used to decorate? The lighting that creates specific atmosphere? Remember in cases like this that it’s their work and they have their needs that you have to fulfil.
As another example, when shooting a restaurant, you usually aim to capture the atmosphere and include details and people in the shots – it’s interior photography, but it’s not so much about interior, it’s more about the atmosphere and feeling of the place; you want to make the restaurant’s (future) customers want to be here. In this case, focusing on the senses can be a good approach – you probably don’t want to shoot the restaurant looking cold and empty. In any case, focus on the goal and be sure about it before you go to the shoot.
Whenever appropriate, try to tell a story through your images, focus on interesting details that make this place special, use people as models to set the mood and atmosphere, and think through your styling – even the smallest details matter!”
4. Equip yourself for success
When photographing interiors, a wide angle is a good starting point. You should purchase a purpose built wide angle lens for the best results. A 16mm to 24mm lens will allow you to get a great perspective from the corners of the space. Always take a standard lens along too for the close ups of details you might want to capture to support the wide angles. Depending on the space, you may even want to take a macro lens to capture fine details, for example in a five star hotel or a quirky retreat. Of course, this is in addition to the basic kit you should always pack when out on a shoot.
5. Straighten yourself out
Ensure that all the vertical lines in your interior image are going straight up and down and not converging at the top and bottom. Use a tripod with a spirit level to ensure the lines of the features – bookcases, doors, windows, tables, etc. – are all parallel within the frame. If the lens is tilted slightly up or down the lines will be going diagonally, providing an unwanted distraction to the viewer and detracting from the impact of the interior. The interior will appear to be falling away or tipping towards the viewer.
PRO TIP – OSKAR FIREK
Interior photography by Oskar Firek
“In my opinion, the most important thing is vertical correction. Every view of an interior should be 90 degrees to the wall. Take care of the balance between the left and right hand side (in composition) and make sure that the floor and ceiling are shown in the right proportions.”
6. Don’t trust your hands
All professional interior photographers know that nobody has a hand that’s as steady as a sturdy tripod. If you want a crisp, clear and professional looking photograph of your interior, make sure you use a tripod. A blurred image will not only make the photographer look like an amateur but the interior designer will suffer from your mistake as well.
7. Use your aperture
Depth of field is an important tool in the interior photographer’s arsenal. If there is some unwanted detail in the background of the shot, you could always blur it out with a smaller f-stop. Alternatively, if you’re shooting a grand space you might want a smaller aperture (bigger f-stop) to make sure the entirety of the scene is in sharp focus.
PRO TIP – OLAFS BARONS
Interior image by Olafs Barons featuring clever use of depth of field
“I’ve never studied photography, I’m just an architect and mostly use my sense of composition, trying to keep it as clear and readable as possible; mostly using lowered camera settings to reduce the perspective. I also pay close attention to the depth of composition to make some foreground and background.”
8. Shoot from on high
To add a sense of grandeur, try shooting a wide angle from high up in the corner while keeping the camera straight. Look for a good vantage point up a staircase, or bring along a step ladder to help you reach those dizzy heights. Make sure you don’t end up cutting out half of the frame, however.
9. Don’t be afraid to use post-production
Post-production is a huge asset to interior photography. It’s very rare that an interior design image comes out exactly as you want it to look, with the difficulties of shooting in a confined space with awkward lighting. Try to make sure you get the composition correct first time round to prevent the excessive need for vertical correction, and keep post-production to a minimum – contrast, highlights and shadows, and cropping.
PRO TIP – MACIEK JEZYK
Interior of Kapalenka 42 office building by Maciek Jezyk
“Most of the time, one image is enough to work with in post-production, but when you are photographing a difficult situation, where there’s gonna be lots of dark and very bright places, it would be advisable to use a blending tool. This can be done manually or with a program called LR/Enfuse. This option does not interfere with colours, like HDR for example, so it’s good to use in some situations, but to use that you need to first look at tons of great images so that your brain can get used to natural looking interior shoots before you do any post-production.”
10. Get creative
Interior photography is seeing a resurgence in creativity that comes with its popularity. Use these 10 interior photography tips as a basis for your images but feel free to judge the scene before you with your artistic eye. Experiment with different angles, apertures and lighting to see what you can come up with.
PRO TIP – VAIBHAV KAPADI
Vaibhav Kapadi captures the detail of the impressive ceiling in the Maxus Multiplex in Mumbai
- Point of view: Selecting the best point of view is very important. The place from where the image is captured enables the viewer to see all the boundaries of the internal structure.
- Camera height: Usually the camera is placed at eye level to get a more natural feeling of the view.
- Verticals & horizontals: Make sure the vertical lines in the picture look exactly vertical and horizontal lines in the picture look exactly horizontal. The reason being that the human eye never sees tilted verticals or horizontals.
- Depth: Use appropriate foreground elements to create the sense of depth. Foreground elements should be very much in focus.
- Props: Adding appropriate props can make the picture look more interesting. For example, a flowerpot on the table, as it will reduce emptiness and will also add some wonderful colours to the picture.
- Visual overlaps: Try to avoid visual overlaps in the picture. Less visual overlaps = a neat and clean picture. You can move the furniture/props (with permission) to avoid visual overlaps.”