Interior photography (i.e. the capturing of images within any enclosed, indoor space) takes careful planning and consideration. Getting the shot involves a combination of the right lighting, interior styling, and photo composition in order to produce an image that showcases the work of the architect while still reflecting the personal taste of the homeowner.
So, what are some of the the best ways to shoot interior spaces? Let’s take an inside look at these 12 photographer’s Instagram accounts to find out.
Find the best lighting. Although artificial lighting can add atmosphere and highlight details (especially in larger commercial or hospitality spaces), natural light allows a viewer to see a room as it actually is.
When shooting, always wait for the right light. Use a tripod and long exposure rather than a flash. If daylight is too harsh or direct, close the blinds or curtain to balance the light. Blinds and shutters can also create interesting light and shadow effects that add another dimension to photos.
Style the room. Successful interior photography is said to be ten percent creativity and ninety percent 'moving furniture around'. Styling a room (or possibly even hiring a set decorator to do it for you) ensures that every object in your frame enhances the look and feel of an image.
Play around with different furniture arrangements in order to get the best photo composition possible. Make sure there isn't anything blocking your angle, and remove any unsightly or jarring objects from your frame. Items like wastebaskets, wires, newspapers, keys, and other odds and ends can be left out to avoid visual clutter. If there are mirrors, check the reflection—you certainly don't want to be caught in it.
Apply the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds helps create a visually balanced and more natural-looking shot. It can be used for rearranging furniture and composing all the visual elements in an image.
If your viewfinder doesn’t have grid lines, then imagine breaking an image into thirds (horizontally and vertically), so that you have four intersection points around the center of the image. These four intersections mark your points of interest and will create a more balanced image that viewers naturally respond to. In fact, studies have shown that our eye is instinctively drawn to these intersection points rather than the center.
Keep verticals vertical. Crooked, angled, and distorted lines can manipulate our perception of a room and distract from the image, so make sure vertical lines are just that—vertical.
Have your camera at (or slightly above) mid-room height and point the camera straight ahead. You can use a tilt-shift lens to change the field of view and keep vertical lines upright while shooting, or adjust and correct them in post-processing.
Choose your perspective. A one-point or two-point perspective creates an image that’s easier for viewers to understand. A one-point perspective shoots straight towards a back wall, so that side walls lead to a flat plane in the background. A two-point perspective shoots towards a corner. Remember that this perspective doesn’t need to be centered. If you line this corner up with one of the vertical grid lines from the rule of thirds, it can create a more aesthetically balanced image.
For another playful take on perspective, check out Sebastian’s Parisian floors project on Instagram: @parisianfloors. It’s a stunner!
Find symmetry. Symmetry refers to a sense of visual balance that is naturally pleasing to the eye. It involves imagining a line that splits a scene in half, wherein both sides of the image mirror each other.
Balance your images by composing and framing them as evenly as possible. Use the rule of thirds to find the center of your image, line up vertical and horizontal planes equally on each side, and counterbalance asymmetries with furniture or other objects.
Capture the big picture and the finer details. To give viewers a better understanding of an entire project, try shooting an entire room first, and focusing on its finer details second. By shooting the overall room before going into the details (such as its fixtures and materials), you maintain a sense of consistency across your images.
Add greenery. Plants add life and color to a room, and make a space look and feel instantly more lived-in. When styling a setting, pick and arrange foliage carefully, just as you would furniture or other household decor. It might not be obvious, but plantlife indirectly communicates a lot about a space and its inhabitants.
Make it personal. Photographs that feel personal are instantly more distinctive and memorable. Particularly in lifestyle photography, personal props help to tell the full story of a homeowner. When arranging your shot, be sure to include the owner’s personal artifacts: sentimental items that give an indication of their lifestyle, tastes, and preferences.
Keep in mind that when it comes to architects or real estate agents, these clients may prefer a less personal approach in order to highlight the versatility of their design space. Have a conversation with your client beforehand to find out their interior photo needs.
Get the lived-in look. Just like 'bed head,' an artfully lived-in look doesn’t come naturally. You have to work at creating this feeling through your styling. But instead of karate chopping pillows on the sofa, why not try sitting down and making yourself comfortable? Instead of arranging your bedding, why not roll around on it? Sit on a chair, put your feet up, and move things around just as you would normally use them in the context of the space. This approach to styling helps create an image that feels less forced and more authentic.
Increase the sense of space. There is often a lack of space to shoot from when trying to capture a room, especially in small houses or apartments. You can increase the sense or depth of space by shooting from one room to another, such as through a hallway into a bedroom. This can also give a better idea of how spaces connect and flow from one to another.
Play with people. Interiors are designed for people to occupy—to live, work, and play in. For this reason, don’t be afraid to include people in your interior shots. Adding a bit of humanity helps tell the story of a space's homeowners, as well as gives it a sense of scale.
After all, it’s people who make a house a home, and workers who make a space a workplace. Make sure to highlight this fact in order to create more dynamic compositions.