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How to Photograph Interiors Like a Professional

Living room
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The New York Institute of Photography claims that “a room is merely a shell, its appearance is an afterthought at best. Therefore most people never give much thought to making a room the the subject of a photograph. That is a mistake.” Interiors are great subjects to photograph for a myriad of reasons. A photograph can serve to capture a memory of one’s youth whether for oneself or for one’s children. It can also be used to capture furnishings and artwork for insurance purposes, or for the sale of one’s home.

Living room

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Choose the most interesting angle

Talk to a professional interiors photographer and he will tell you to walk around your room, shoot the back, shoot the front, point the camera up slightly and then point the camera down slightly. You will be advised to, whenever possible, try to include the floor. Rooms without floors often create a floating and unsettled feeling. Many photographers believe that it’s important to get down on your knees and shoot from there.They say that angle offers the more complementary and inviting photograph.Your picture should tell a story. While you capture the essence of the room as a whole, do not be afraid to zoom in and focus on the smaller details, the vignettes created on coffee tables, bedside tables, dressers and bar carts. Keep shooting. You really can never take too many pictures.

Living room of luxury eco house, parquet floor and wooden roof trusses, panoramic window on winter meadow, modern white interior design

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Another thing that photographers will tell you is to use natural lighting whenever possible. You will, however,  want to stay away from an overly bright window as it can lead to problems with exposure and white balance. Another pointer is to keep the window off to the side. If too much light is coming inside, draw the curtains or shades. Never photograph into the light, but bright light in the background is superior to indoor lighting. You may want to shoot your room at various points throughout the day to see which lighting is best. A general rule of thumb is that Eastward rooms should be taken in the morning and Westward in the afternoon. Rooms with Northern and Southern exposure should be taken when the rooms are their brightest. It’s best not to shoot on a dark and dreary day. If rain is in the forecast, try putting off the shoot, if at all possible, until the sun begins to shine again. For a gentler, softer light you may prefer to photograph your room at dawn or dusk when the sun is just rising or just about to set. A sunset can make for a magnificent interior photograph. If a flash is necessary, if you’re photographing at night or on a darker day, use a flash that has an adjustable head and point it up toward the ceiling to bounce the light from there to create a more diffused light.

Living room

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Find your focus

You will need to find your focus within the frame and to determine what is it that you are photographing.  What’s your subject? Is it the way the room is layed out? Is is the fireplace or the framed Matisse over the large turquoise couch? Perhaps the old Grand Steinway standing gracefully in the corner commands your attention. Once you’ve found your focus you’ll need to remove extraneous accessories and clutter.  Ao good photograph always tells a story.A few accessories, perhaps a few pillows on the couch, a candelabra or some photographs in silver frames sitting elegantly on the oversized black piano, can add just enough detail to tell your story without distracting one’s eye from the subject at hand. Shoot both landscape and portrait. One may tend to shoot in landscape mode, but portrait mode can make a photograph much more dramatic and powerful.

Kitchen Interior Design

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Even the most tastefully done interiors need to be decluttered and streamlined for a good photograph. Look all around at what is distracting to the eye. If you’re photographing a home office, for example, look to remove cords, excessive telephones and hardware. Writing supplies should be removed or stored and displayed at minimum. Remove the waste baskets, figurines and anything that seems to distract from the focal point. The desk area should be clean and clutter-free. Tasteful accent pieces such as a small vase of tulips or a picture frame can enhance the quality of the photograph. In the kitchen remove large and cumbersome electrical gadgets and replace with large bowls of fresh fruit to add color and a lived in feel. Make sure all countertops and cabinets are as clean as can be.If linens are to be photographed make sure they are cleaned, and if possible ironed. In a bedroom, make sure the bed is well made and that the pillows are fluffed and perfectly lined up. Make sure that picture frames are all hanging as straight as possible. A crooked piece of artwork can be terribly distracting. Remove all clutter from your bedside table and replace with a small bud vase, and a book. You’ll notice that when photographing interiors less is more!

Antique vanity

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Select your space

What is it that you are trying to capture? What is it that you find interesting about your space. You may want to walk around the room and shoot it from as many angles as possible. Perhaps your original vision doesn’t capture as well as another. Take as many pictures as you can. The more pictures you take the better the chance you’ll find a shot that is truly spectacular.  It is not always necessary to capture the entire room. Sometimes a photograph is more powerful when part of the room is left out of the picture. Zoom in and zoom out. You will be amazed at how different your space will look from different focal points. As you select your space try to capture the emotion you are trying to create. Are you selling a home? Are you a designer who is trying to showcase your best work? Find the space and the angle that will best capture your message.

Wooden chairs at table with flowers in natural dining room interior with poster and lamp. Real photo

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Stage your space

You want your interior to looked lived in, not vacant and not cluttered. You want to tell a story through your photograph and the best way to do this is to stage your space with the proper tools and accessories. For ideas look to magazines and catalogues or peruse the interiors here at Freshome!

Kitchen counter

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Invest in a good camera. A good camera and a good lens will make all the difference. A good eye is one thing but you want your focus to be as clear as possible. You want your colors and lighting to be as true and accurate as possible. A basic point and shoot or your iPhone simply won’t cut it here. There are many wonderful digital SLRs out there that are quite affordable. A wide angle lens, not a fisheye, is really necessary for shooting interiors, for capturing the essence of the scene.However, the wider the lens the greater the barrel distortion, so you don’t want that either. Once you’ve taken your pictures and downloaded them to your computer you can play around with them on some free photo editing sites like PicMonkey and Picasa, FotoFlexer, iPiccy to name a few. For more extensive  editing capabilities you may want to buy a basic version of Photoshop.

Antique love seat

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Be a copy cat

Pick up some home decor magazines, or browse this site! Take a look at how the professionals do it. As with any field there are certain tastes and styles that professionals have. The more pictures you can look at the more you will know what appeals to you. Take this knowledge with you and start shooting like a professional.As with anything, practice makes perfect. Perhaps initially you won’t have many favorite photographs to choose from, but the more you get out there and take pictures the better you will become and the more pleased you will be with your product. You really can never take too many pictures!

Finally, have fun!

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