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.

Both mag­a­zines and small busi­ness­es need inte­ri­or pho­tog­ra­phy to main­tain social net­works and show­case their premis­es to poten­tial cus­tomers and vis­i­tors / pixabay.com

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.

A lot of extra items and a crum­pled bed fill the min­i­mal­ist inte­ri­or with visu­al garbage / pixabay.com

– 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.

The includ­ed floor lamp “enlivens” the frame, makes it brighter and more filled / pixabay.com

– 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.

Clas­sic frontal view when three walls are vis­i­ble in the frame / pixabay.com

— 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.

All ele­ments of the pho­to are in sharp focus thanks to the high aper­ture / pixabay.com

– 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.
There are excep­tions to every rule — in this pic­ture, the author not only left a reflec­tion, but also focused on it. This empha­sized the prop­er­ties of the mate­r­i­al from which the coun­ter­top is made / pixabay.com

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.

  • Syn­chro­niz­er

It is nec­es­sary so that two or more flash­es can fire with­out being on the hot shoe of the cam­era.