Interior photography is photography of rooms and furniture. Interior photographers have many clients. Such shooting is necessary for real estate agencies in order to profitably show an apartment offered for rent or sale; it is ordered by hotels and restaurants so that customers can see where they are going, the production of kitchens, cabinets, tables, chairs to present products; space designers and builders to put together a portfolio.
Shooting indoors is in demand and can be a good source of income. We have collected the rules and nuances of shooting interiors, which will become a useful base for a novice photographer.
Rules and tips for interior photography
– The best time to shoot interiors is during the day. Especially if it’s sunny. Then the room looks spacious and pleasant, and you get an additional source of light, which reduces the amount of equipment. Shots on a sunny day are most advantageous if you are photographing an apartment for rent or sale. Then the room looks warm, cozy and habitable.
Naturally, if you are photographing an interior without windows, for example, a bar in the basement, then the time of day does not matter. Perhaps it would make sense to arrange to shoot early in the morning or even at night, while the room is empty.
— Clear the room of unnecessary items. Ideally, this should be done by the customer before shooting, but the photographer is no less interested in this, because you are paid money, including for processing images. Anything inappropriate that remains in the frame will have to be retouched, which can result in hours of additional work. To clean up the background in post-processing, you will need the basic retouching tools that we discussed in this text.
– If the main focus in shooting is furniture, try to choose frontal straight angles so as not to accidentally distort the proportions. In some cases, for example, if the room is very small, this is not possible. In such situations, get ready to align the perspective in post-processing.
– Watch the level of the camera. In interior photography, it is important that the camera does not fall forward, backward, or on one of the sides. This is especially important if you are shooting handheld. When shooting with a tripod, be sure to level the camera beforehand. To do this, take a closer look at a tripod with a built-in level. Read the text about what else to look for when buying a tripod.
— To bring a cozy atmosphere to the picture and illuminate the frame, turn on all the light sources that are in the frame — floor lamps, neon signs, lights.
– Try to have two walls in the frame at an angle of 90 degrees. If the photo needs to have three walls, a “calm” frontal angle will do, where one wall is directly in front of the camera.
— If the photo should be employees of the institution, discuss the dress code with them in advance. It is important that the appearance of employees in color and style match the interior or deliberately contrast with it.
— Use the exposure bracket. This is an opportunity to take three photos of different brightness from one point. Then they can be combined in a graphic editor to get an image that is ideal in terms of brightness without overexposure and darkening. Read more about the exposure in the text.
— Align perspective in post-processing.
The peculiarity of interior photography is that the photographer often uses wide-angle optics. It distorts the real picture. Lines in the frame may begin to bend or stretch disproportionately. To eliminate this, you will have to select the angle and point of shooting, as well as edit images in post-processing. For example, if you get too close to a subject, it may start to “bulge” or stretch out unbelievably in the frame. In such cases, it is better to move away, and crop the excess in a graphics editor. The picture can change significantly if you tilt the camera forward or backward, take pictures from the waist level, crouch or shoot standing up.
— Learn to collage! Interior shooting often takes place during the day, when there are a lot of people in the room, and the customer cannot close the establishment. In such conditions, the photographer is forced to take several shots in order to combine them later in the editor.
– Shutter speed from ⅕ to 25 seconds. These are the necessary shutter speeds if you are photographing in dimly lit and dark rooms without additional light. With such shutter speeds, it’s impossible to simply come and photograph the desired scene with your hands — you need a tripod.
If you have additional light, and the room allows you to place it, or you are photographing an interior with large windows on a bright sunny day, then the shutter speed can be around 1/100–1/125.
— Color balance. The gray card will help to set the correct color balance. Or, if there are white walls in the room or you have a sheet of paper, you can focus on them. The main thing is that objects that were black, gray and white in life should remain the same in the picture. You can read more about color balance in our guide.
Equipment for interior photography
- The lens is the most important thing for interior photography.
The must-have for the indoor photographer is the wide-angle lens. This is an optic with an equivalent focal length of less than 50mm. Such a lens is necessary so that the camera can capture as much space as possible in conditions where the photographer simply has nowhere to go.
perfect focal length for architectural photography it is considered from 35mm and above. For example, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm. In general, lenses with a focal length of 16–35mm and 24–70mm will cover most tasks. With such an arsenal, you can take pictures of both the cramped corridor of a single room and the spacious penthouse hall. But, if you are photographing very small spaces, such as the dressing room, bathroom and toilet of a small apartment, more extreme distances may be needed. For example, 16 mm. This focal length will allow you to “capture” any room in the frame, but be prepared for distortion that will have to be corrected in post-processing, or cropped using cropping.
The second parameter is luminosity. Shooting conditions can be completely different. It can be a corridor in an apartment where no light enters, or a nightclub where there are no windows at all. And sometimes in too cramped rooms it is problematic to place additional light. Therefore, the brighter the optics, the better. Fast lenses are considered to be f/2.8 or smaller.
If you are willing to spend money, lenses with a system that allows you to shift the optical axis are a good option. They are marked with the letters PC (from perspective control, that is, perspective control). If the optical axis can still tilt, then such optics are marked with the letters TS (from tilt and shift, shift and tilt). These lenses allow you to correct perspective before you even press the shutter, making them incredibly useful for architectural and interior photography. However, the same effect can be achieved in post-processing.
- Polarizing filter. It will help remove unwanted reflections. This is necessary if there are mirrored facades of kitchens, glass objects in the frame.
Use a tripod to keep your shots from being blurry and out of focus. Shooting with a tripod will allow you to take well-lit photos even if the room is actually dark. It is important that the tripod has a built-in level. Otherwise, consider buying a level camera built into the hot shoe.
If the client doesn’t mind additional light, use flashes pointing up at the ceiling to create a fill light.
It is necessary so that two or more flashes can fire without being on the hot shoe of the camera.