When I first began photographing interiors, there weren’t many resources out there. Although I had a lot of experience shooting food and portraits, I was nervous dipping my toes into the realm of interior photography. I scoured the internet, but there weren’t many tips for those just starting to shoot interiors. Fast forward two years and dozens of shoots later, it’s safe to say that I’ve definitely learned a few things about shooting a home beautifully.
Interior Photography Equipment
I always shoot with my DSLR, a Canon 6D. You don’t have to have a fancy camera, but you definitely need something that can shoot wide angles. I use my 17-35mm f/2.8 lens when I shoot homes. It’s an ultrawide zoom lens that can capture the whole length of a room. If you’re shooting with just your phone, I would suggest getting an add-on wide-angle lens. You need to shoot wide in order to capture the essence of a room. A tripod is also vital for shooting homes, unless the entire home is well lit.
Before you shoot the home, ask the homeowner when the light is the “best” in the home. That is, when there is enough light to fill the space through the windows. You always want to be careful that it’s not when the house is the sunniest — a lot of direct sunlight through windows can create harsh shadows, which will result it a lot of work post-processing. The best time is typically in the morning or early evening, when the light is coming softly in.
Also, make sure the home is styled before the shoot. It doesn’t have to be crazy, but beds should be made, rugs should be vacuumed, etc. Unless you are going for a purposefully disheveled look, make sure the home is at least neat and orderly. If you have the budget, add a few vases of fresh flowers or candles here and there. It seems small, but it makes a huge difference in making the space feel vibrant and beautiful. Or, add a casually tossed blanket to make the space look more lived-in.
During the Shoot
When I shoot homes, I start off by shooting wide open shots of the space, then I make another round of the house to take vignettes and capture small details. Make sure you’re shooting the rooms around eye level and straight-on, and not extremely low or extremely high (unless you’re making a specific statement).
Keep an eye on things like unsightly cords or dust. When I first started shooting rooms, I just looked at the space, but wouldn’t notice these things until I was back at my computer. It can be edited out in post-processing, but it’s not always easy and can take a lot of time.
When using wide-angle lens, there might be some lens distortion. Make sure you’re lining up edges to be straight and correcting for any distortion in the lens. Make sure the tops of cabinets and edges of bookcases and doors are straight.
Be wary of capturing yourself in mirrors or in the reflection of the metallic furniture. Unless you’re purposefully shooting yourself, these can definitely throw a dent in the photos.
Don’t be afraid to get moving. Whether it’s moving furniture or your body, do what you need to do to get the shot. Of course, check with the homeowner first — however, if a chair is blocking your way, then move it. Sometimes with heavy furniture, I may have to do some awkward leans, but it’s all worth it to get the perfectly composed shot.
Technically, when I’m shooting the rooms, I keep it at a narrow f-stop, like f/9 or higher. We want all the details to be sharp and crisp. When shooting small vignettes, I’ll go to f/3.5 to create a shallow depth of field.
For editing interior photography shots, I gravitate towards bright and saturated colors. Below are the adjustments I usually make:
1. Increase brightness
2. Lift the shadows (if they’re dark)
3. Saturate the colors slightly
4. Increase vibrancy of colors
5. Increase contrast
There you have it! A beginner’s guide to interior photography. Show us your best shots with #PicsArtAtHome!
Photos courtesy of nanette wong (@nanette_pa).