If you’re an interior designer, proud homeowner wanting to showcase your decor, or just wanting to improve your interior images for instagram, here are a few of my tips for snapping the best shots of your interiors! A couple of these tips will relate specifically to DSLR shooters, but most are applicable to anyone— even those of you using your phone camera to capture your images!
01/ SHOOT STRAIGHT-ON TO WALLS
So basically: when you’re shooting, shoot directly at a wall, not diagonally towards a corner. This isn’t a rule, I shoot into corners all the time, but I do love the clean, straight lines of a straight-on shot. If you scroll through these photos you’ll notice almost all of them are directly facing a wall. There’s just something aesthetically pleasing about the perspective lines of a straight-on photo. Again, this can be a personal preference thing, but I notice that many of the photos I like and that are popular on Instagram or in magazines follow this guideline.
02/ ADD A HUMAN ELEMENT
These photos in this post in particular don’t do the best at showcasing this tip, but it is one thing I like to do, and find that I enjoy in other people’s photos. Put people (or pets) in your photos! My Corgi makes it into a lot of the photos I take of my space and I love how she adds a little bit of realness to the photo. I also enjoy putting myself in the photo (standing at the counter cutting fruit, making the bed, playing with my son) just to give a lived-in feel to my images. We do, after all, actually live here! It can be harder to set up, and getting a toddler to cooperate for photos might be more of pain than it’s worth sometimes, but I try to do it when I can.
Even if you can’t get an actual person in your image, you can at least give some kind of staging that alludes to people’s existence, haha. Maybe have an orange sliced up on a cutting board with a knife laid beside it when you take photos of your kitchen. Or a book cracked open with a cup of coffee and a scone on your coffee table when shooting your living room. Just little evidences of human life peeking through your photo.
03/ USE NATURAL LIGHT
Most of our indoor lights have a very warm, orangey tone, so when lights are on they can tend to tint everything orange. I prefer my images to look as natural as possible in order to get an accurate depiction of paint colors/upholstery etc, so I’ll turn off all the lights and use only window light. If you are a whiz at off-camera lighting and feel comfortable lighting your space that way, by all means!
Because turning the lights off in your home will often mean your space is a lot more dim than usual, you’ll probably have to put your camera on a tripod so you can use a long exposure in order to get the correct exposure in your image.
You can also open doors that aren’t in the photo in order to let light in from other rooms or outdoors. I’ll often open my front door when taking photos of my living room because it lets in way more light BUT! I have to put a white sheet over my door because it’s painted orange, so that orange color gets cast onto my space unless I throw a sheet over it. Light can do funny things like that, so just keep an eye out for funky shadows or weird colors getting cast onto your space.
04/ CLEAN UP CLUTTER
This one is kind of a personal preference depending on how “real” you want your images to be, but I do like to take photos of a space that has odds and ends and clutter tucked away. It helps put the focus on the design elements on the room and draws the eye to the areas you want. For example, my kitchen counters house waaay more stuff in my daily life than is shown in these photos, but I wanted to show the concrete counters and backsplash tile. With coffee makers and dish drying racks all over the counter, it’d be harder for the viewer to focus on those design elements. This can also apply to stuff like cords and remotes. Just tuck ‘em away for the shoot!
05/ MOVE STUFF AROUND
This might be considered “cheating” but I do it a lot. Move design elements from room to room! I definitely do this most with plants. I don’t have as many plants as I’d like in every room of my house, so I’ll usually do a little bit of plant musical chairs, adding plants to the room I’m shooting. You can also do this with stuff like throw pillows, blankets, etc. Since you’re not showing your entire house in one image, you can fudge a little by borrowing stuff from rooms not shown in the photo you’re taking. Tricksy!
06/ USE A WIDER ANGLED LENS
I don’t like to get too crazy, if you have too wide of a lens it can distort things and start to look fish-eyed. The widest I’ll use is a 24mm lens, which seems to be a good lens, especially for shooting smaller spaces. I like to use a 50mm for shooting details, and a 35mm is a happy medium between 50 and 24mm.
07/ SHOOT THE BIG PICTURE
I’m all about a nice vignette (I mean, c’mon, I spent a while styling that shelf!) but people like to see the big picture. If you have a small space, it might mean you have to step into the doorway of the neighboring room in order to get far enough back to fit your room in frame. See that pink door in my living room? In order to get a full shot of my entire living room I have to use my 24mm lens and then be standing about a foot into that doorway to get the shot. In order to shoot my tiny bathroom, I’ve climbed into the very back corner of my shower in order to get the shot. Whatever works!
08/ DIFFUSED LIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND
I do enjoy the occasional harsh sun, shadowed photo, but in general, it’s best to shoot at a time of day when the sun isn’t beaming directly into your windows and casting a bunch of really harsh light. A partially cloudy day makes for really wonderful light (though here in the PNW we can get too many clouds and it’s almost too dim to shoot some days)
09/ MOVE STUFF OUT OF YOUR WAY
Sometimes you want to get just the right shot, but the arm of a chair is getting in the shot. Don’t be afraid to scoot things out of your shot. When you’re shooting, look at the image you just took on the camera’s screen and make sure there’s nothing peeking into the shot that’s distracting the eye.
10/ SHOOT RAW
This one is a little more technical, and you might not have the right photo editing software to edit raw images, but shooting in raw (instead of jpeg) makes it way easier to correct things like over or underexposure. Most DSLR cameras have the option to shoot raw, you just have to scroll through your settings to select the raw option. Again, this one is a little more techy, so if you’re not super comfortable with your camera or if you don’t have software that can work with raw image files, don’t worry about it!
For editing, I like to use Lightroom for my “big camera” images. When it comes to phone images, I always edit using A Color Story app. They’ve got lots of filters, and you can combine, tweak and save your filters too so you don’t have to repeat all the steps you take every time to achieve a cohesive look on your photos. Another app I’ve used in the past for photo editing is Afterlight.