Interior photography isn't just about capturing snapshots inside a building. It is more than that and requires careful planning. Photographing interiors is all about presenting the interior as welcoming as possible, that means keeping it warm and spacious and choosing the right angle for the photographs.
Here are some tips that will help you in interior photography.
Show Warmth in Your Images
This doesn't mean cranking up the kelvins through the roof and you are set. Yes, white balance plays a decent role in creating “warmth” but it has to be used to acceptable degree and should be combined with other elements, as well. For example, if you are photographing the living room, and there is a fireplace, light the fireplace up, let some natural light in, avoid too much flash and combine warm kelvins with real room warmness. That makes everything pleasing and real estate agents love it.
Photo by Simon Gao
Choose the Best Angle to Photograph
You don’t have to capture every inch of the room at any cost. This means going wide angle, but at the same time choosing the right angle so there isn’t anything big and chunky blocking 1/4th of the frame. Pick the right angle while keeping some windows in frame in order to make the room look bigger, more open, and inviting. Also, keep the distortion at minimum, nobody wants curved lines.
Photo by Hotel Zora Primosten
Light it Up
This is the most important thing. Whatever kind of interior you photograph, light it up. Every single light bulb needs to be working. It would be tricky to get the right light temperature in rooms that combine tungsten with fluorescent lights, but that is the hazard of the job. Natural light is a must as well. Use the windows as light sources, mix and match the light but never, ever leave a light bulb that isn’t working. If there is a broken one, replace it. If you are shooting at night, make sure you do mixed exposures in order to have natural light through the windows, even if it is some dots of city lights.
Photo by Ben Kraan Architecten BNA
Keep the Scene Clean and Uncluttered
This shouldn't be mentioned but still, I’ll write about it. Clean room means clean image. However, it is not always the dust that is the issue. Different surfaces react differently to different kind of light. Smooth and shiny (like glass, mirrors, polished wood and so on) reflect light pretty good if not perfect, that means every speck of dust will be lit up and it will be distracting. So make sure the room you photograph is dust free. On the other hand, clean image is achieved by removing all unnecessary things from the room, in other words making it as tidy as possible. Cables from chargers, old boxes and stuff, all that has to go. Also, if the property that is photographed is meant to be sold, replace all personal items with neutral ones. By this I mean keep the picture frames, but put in neutral images that don't represent the owners. Their privacy is not meant to be displayed all over the internet.
Photo by Hotel Zora Primosten
Avoid Using a Flashlight
If you don’t need flash, don’t use it. Seriously. You don't usually find a source of light in any house that resembles flashlight. Also, using flash will generate a light source that isn't in that room, and many agents know that, leaving the images being rejected. If you really really have to use flash, never use it on camera, always have it positioned towards some lightsource and use gels to match the color temperature of the light where you aim the flash at. Use diffusers. Most of the lights in any house aren't as hard as the flash is, so diffusion is a must.
Common Problems to be Aware Of
Sometimes the rooms are just too small to be captured, that's why you need to think outside the box. If it is required for you to fit into a closet to get the shot, then do it. I've seen photographers attaching the cameras to all sorts of things on the walls and remotely trigger them because the room is too small. Sometimes there are mirrors getting in the way, and you as the photographer can be seen in some of them. If you are visible in one mirror, that means you are directly facing it. Using the same settings as you took the first image (with you in the mirror) take a second one from the mirror location looking at where you were before. Then use that image to clone yourself out of the mirror. You’ll need to adjust for the size and possible distortions but it can be easily done.
Photo by Gerard McGovern
Finally, photograph the interior as if it were your own. Make sure you get the best out of it and present it as good as possible. But have in mind that if the agents you work for have certain requests, they have to be met. You have to be flexible but still make the best out of it.