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Beginner’s Guide to Interior Photography

by | Learn

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission.

Those gorgeous interior photos you see on Instagram and Pinterest may seem out of reach, especially if you are new to photography. However, with the right tools and knowledge, taking great interior photos shouldn’t be. If you are planning an interior photoshoot soon, our beginner’s guide to interior photography is for you. 

Here are 12 tips that you can use to get the best daytime interior shots. Let’s dive in!

Plan the shoot

First things first – plan the shoot. During the planning phase, you’ll visit the location to get a better idea of what you’re shooting and what the lighting conditions are and make your shot list with the client. Then, you’ll be able to map out and time all your shots and finally, get the right gear together for the shoot.

Visit the location

The goal of a site visit is to view the property first-hand. This will give you the chance to get a sense for the physical spaces, see the lighting environment and discuss stylistic preferences and create a shot list with your client. Additionally, you’ll be able to figure out exactly what gear you need to achieve the shots you want.

Find out where the sun will be when you shoot

The lighting conditions of your shooting scene are crucial and will significantly impact the quality of your final output. If you intend to do a daytime photoshoot, you will need to know the sun’s direction. The lighting conditions of the interior will also impact the kind of equipment and camera accessories that you will need for the shoot.

If at all possible, try to visit the space at different times of day so that you have an idea of when the light is best for the shots you want to achieve. Some photographers prefer to control all the light artificially with studio lights and a good amount of photoshopping post-shoot, but for the purposes of this article, we won’t cover that.

Make a shot list

Now that you know your location, lighting and style, it’s time to make a shot list. Make a checklist of all the shots you’ve agreed upon with the client. For each, make a note on stylistic preferences such as furniture placement, lights on or off, neat or semi-casual pillow placement etc. This will guide you through the shoot and make sure you have exactly what’s expected when it’s time to deliver.

Prepare your gear

Now that you have all the information about your shoot, it is time to get your gear together. To ensure you have everything you need, create a list of all the required gear and tick off each of them as you pack them into your kit bag. Some must-have equipment that you will need, in addition to your camera body, of course, include a wide-angle lens, prime lens and a tripod.

For more tips on getting ready for a shoot, check out our guide to a stress-free photoshoot

Shoot Day

With everything prepped and ready, it’s finally time to get out and shoot. Be sure to get to your location early to have enough time for cleaning, last-minute client requests and getting your gear set up.

Clean and stage the scene

Try to get to the location at least an hour or two before you need to start shooting. If possible, the day before. This will give you time to tidy up the scene and ensure everything is in the right place for your shoot. Cleaning up and staging beforehand will save you time both as you do your shoot and during the editing phase where you may end up needing to remove items or clean blemishes.

Use natural light as far as possible

Natural light is always the best option when it comes to taking daytime interior photos. So, make sure all the curtains, windows and doors of the room are wide open to allow in as much light as possible for a bright, natural looking shot.

For the best shots, try to avoid using any artificial lighting such as ceiling lights and lamps, unless there is an interesting lighting element in the room. This will help ensure your white balance is correct for each shot. 

It may be that you need to use a flash or strobe light to effectively handle shadows. Flashes and strobe lights will also help compensate for any dark areas in the room, but make sure to use a diffuser to diffuse artificial light and give a more natural feel. 

Shoot multiple exposures for each shot (bracketing)

To bracket a shot, take 3 – 5 different exposures of the same shot. So, you should end up with one underexposed shot at -3 ev, one correctly exposed at 0 ev, and one overexposed at +3 ev. In Photoshop, Lightroom or your editing software of choice, you will then merge these photos into one, resulting in a high dynamic range (HDR) image that has an excellent amount of definition in the shadows, midtones and highlights. 

To bracket effectively, it’s essential to use a tripod. Coupled with a tripod, using this technique will allow you to achieve more balanced lighting and higher definition in your shots, so use this technique for each shot on your list.

Shoot different angles

Where it may be best practice to shoot straight on in most cases, it’s always a good idea to try different angles to create a better sense of space, depth and to create more interest. For example, you could use your wide angle lens to shoot broad, wide angles of a space from straight on and from the corner of the room. Your prime lens will come in handy for shooting closer angles such as detailed shots of items of interest.

Check your balance

You need to have the right balance of all your camera settings. Some of the settings you will have to adjust include the aperture, ISO, and the shutter speed. Below are some tips specifically for interior photography:

·  Use Aperture between f/8 – f/11: Your Aperture settings will determine the amount of light getting to your sensor. You need to have the right balance based on the ambient lighting conditions. On a normal day, your Aperture should be between f/8 – f/11 for images with stunning depth of field.

·  Low ISO (100 – 400): The ISO you will use should largely depend on the lighting conditions of the scene. If you are doing a shoot in extremely low light conditions, you will have to increase your ISO. On average, the best range for your ISO should be between 100 to 400 if your scene is getting enough light. Anything higher than this will cause graining and digital noise. Keep your ISO as low as possible for crisp, sharp images.

·  Shutter speed: The shutter speed is also highly dependent on the amount of light available and your aperture. You will generally have to use slower shutter speeds if you don’t have a lot of light in your shooting scene. 1/50 to 1/60 is the ideal shutter speed for most indoor lighting conditions. Using higher shutter speeds will likely limit the amount of light your sensors are gathering, leading to less detail in the image.

Conclusion

To start, try your own home, shooting different interior spaces to get a feel for your camera and how it deals with different lighting, your lens and how it captures your planned scene, and yourself, to see what areas you excel at and which ones you need to work on. Next, ask your friends and family if you can practice in their spaces. This will give you plenty of space and practice time to get better.
Coming soon is a full piece on editing for different photography genres, so keep checking in or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest. That’s it from us this week, check in again soon for more tips and tricks, guides and more designed to help you grow as a photographer.

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