There’s nothing quite like a beautifully staged home showcasing stunning craftsmanship or unique history just waiting to be photographed, ready to be featured in a homes and gardens publication or up on a realty website in preparation for sale. But the thought of capturing just the right shot from just the right angle to accentuate the very best of each space filled with simple, everyday elements like furniture and appliances may give you pause. Here’s how I approach making a room feel more attractive and inviting.
ELEMENT 1: Lighting
Proper lighting is one of the most important elements a professional interior photographer can bring to the table and is what separates an acceptable photo from an exemplary photo. Appropriate lighting can make a space appear larger and establish the desired mood (i.e. a romantic restaurant, a lively dance studio, etc.) Things to consider when determining how best to light a space include:
Existence and placement of windows. When possible, the time of day and the direction the room faces need to be taken into consideration when scheduling the shoot with the real estate agent or office managers. For example, often times clients might prefer twilight shots-especially for office spaces and high-rise apartment buildings. In general, early morning or late afternoon are ideal for shedding the optimal amount of outside light.
Existing light fixtures: It is often best practice to switch on all of the lights inside a room during the staging process. More often than not, the use of additional lights (whether they be speedlights triggered by remotes or higher powered strobes) might be called in. Another option is to bracket the exposures and edit with software.
Finding the formula which balances the interior and exterior exposures often requires practice through trial and error, but will definitely help you stand out as the go-to photographer.
ELEMENT 2: Staging
Another reason why professional photographers are called in for the job is their attention to detail. Having an assistant can expedite the process, but if you are shooting solo, be sure to allot enough time into the appointment. Even if the space has been staged by an interior designer or professional stager, be sure the furniture and props are arranged in such a way that when “flattened” by the camera everything translates well in 2D. There is definitely an optical illusion effect that can make or break a shot and arranging props becomes formulaic. I highly recommend investing in some high quality silk flowers (in neutral colors), fake fruit, blankets, and candle stands to have ready in case the space is bare. Be prepared to explain to the client that it is not personal if family photos or trinkets need to be temporarily taken down.
Element 3: Attention to detail
Hiding cords and wires, opening window shades, adjusting faucets, arranging pillows and removing clutter are essential to a creating a clean, artistic shot.
If you’re not quite sure or comfortable with these shooting scenarios, it might be fun to do a little experimenting with your own space. Ask any and all friends who are willing to let you practice on their homes/office spaces. Try a few before/after shots with the suggestions above and see what works best – and you’ll be ready for your next client!