Interior design photography is all about capturing the beauty of a space in a photograph. Sound like a simple task? Well, it’s anything but!
Our eyes see perspective differently than cameras, as well as the way we process details and colours in person as opposed to looking at an image, so it can be very hard to do an interior space justice at the best of times. On top of that, if you don’t know how to get the best out of your camera equipment, then all the eye for detail in the world won’t help you get good photographs!
However, there are a few things that you can do to make sure your interior design photos look their best. Whether you’re a small business owner trying to take new shots for your marketing materials, or you’re a photographer finding their feet in the world, I’m going to share 12 tips I’ve learned during my decades-long career, for taking interior design photos that truly make a mark.
However, there’s one big caveat to these tips: Always err on the side of the marketing purposes of the photographs! If they’re being used to show off an old space in a new light, or for specific target audiences, follow the instructions a marketing department gives you. While we always want to create the best technical images possible, sometimes that doesn’t match what the photographs are going to be used for.
1. Use natural light whenever possible. Interior design is all about creating a space that looks and feels good and natural light will help to show off this handiwork in the best possible way. If you’re taking photos during the daytime, open up blinds & curtains to let in as much light as possible, try to only use additional lights as supplements, maybe to reduce shadows or equalize lights if they’re all coming from one direction. If you’re taking photos at night, use lamps and other artificial light sources to brighten up the space – if you want this light to seem like daylight, then remember the colour temperatures are 5500 to 6500 kelvin!
2. Play with angles. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles when taking interior design photos. Sometimes, the best shots are taken from unexpected places. So get down on the floor, climb up on a chair, or stand on a ladder to get a different perspective of the space. This is a moment to get your creative juices flowing and try to re-imagine what a space can look like, just by getting into an interesting position!
3. Use a tripod. A fairly simple tip, but you’d be surprised how often it gets ignored! If you want to make sure your interior design photos are crisp and clear, use a tripod. This will help you avoid any blurriness that can occur when taking photos with your hand. No-one is as steady as a tripod, so swallow your pride!
4. Shoot in RAW format. Another often ignored tip, but this one’s not as obvious – If you’re serious about interior design photography (or any other kind of photography for that matter!), shoot in RAW format. This will give you the most flexibility when editing your photos later on. You’ve probably heard of JPGs – these are compressed versions of images, which make them a much smaller filesize, perfect for using on the web! RAW images however, are those that are saved directly from the sensor, with no compression. This means they’re “raw”, unadulterated images, which are the best option for editing.
5. Focus on the details. When taking interior design photos, make sure to focus on the details. This is what will really set your photos apart from the rest. Capture the intricate patterns of the rug, the delicate carvings on the furniture, and the unique finishes on the walls. Try and find those unique details that others would miss when looking at the space. This isn’t such an easy thing to do, but the more you photograph and train your eye, the easier this will eventually become!
6. Use props wisely. Props can really help to set the scene in your interior design photos. But be careful not to overdo it. A few well-placed props can add interest to your shot, but too many can be distracting, and this is a mistake that happens more often than you’d think!
7. Avoid distractions. When taking interior design photos, you want the focus to be on the space itself, not on any distractions that may be present. So before you start shooting, take a look around and remove anything that could take away from your photos. Check outside windows that might be visible in the shot, make sure there’s no unintended items in the shot (such as the infamous Starbucks cup from Game of Thrones), and check there’s no dirt or mess that will draw the eye in the final image.
8. Get the right equipment. If you want to take interior design photographs that are really top-notch, you need to have the right equipment. Invest in a good camera and some quality lenses, and your shots will be sure to impress. It can be easy to cheap out on this part if you’re taking photos of your own business or interior design work, but the difference in camera quality can really be night and day when it comes to your final photos!
9. Edit your photos. Once you’ve taken your interior design photos, it’s time to edit them! This is where you can really bring out the best in your shots. Adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, and other settings to create the perfect image. If you’re a practising photographer, then you’ll know a lot about this already – if you’re a hobbyist photographer or taking your own images, then you probably need to do a little bit of learning and practising on your own first. It can be easy to over-do editing, so just remember to use it enough that you highlight want you want to, but not at the detriment of the entire image!
10. Take your time. When taking interior design photos, it’s important to take your time. This is not a rushed process. Take your time setting up each shot, and don’t be afraid to retake a photo if it’s not quite perfect. You very likely won’t be able to get back on location another day, so do your best to make the most of the time you have, and not waste it or rush through the shoot. 3 great images are always better than 30 OK images.
11. Have fun. Interior design photography, along with any other type of photography should be enjoyable, so make sure to have fun with it! Experiment with different techniques, and let your creative juices flow. The more you enjoy the process, the better your photos will be! After all, just like any other creative endeavour, we always do our best work when we’re in the moment!
12. Hire a professional. Finally, if you’re taking photos of your own work, that can be a good way to save money. However, you wouldn’t try to fix your own plumbing or fix your car’s engine – you’d hire a professional! Taking your own photos won’t fulfill your marketing objectives well. So if you want the very best interior design photos, hire a professional photographer such as myself! I have the experience and expertise to capture your space in the best possible light and give you images that will stun your viewers!