How to Fake it as an Interiors Photographer

#20 in the Judging a Photograph Series

.How to Fake it as an Interiors Photographer on Falcondale Life blog. Temple Newsam House in Leeds has stunning interiors. If you have an everyday camera and half a clue how to use it, then use these tips to take a great interiors shot. How to compose a good shot and pick the right camera settings. What kind of shots can you take if you haven't got all the best equipment?

Professional interiors photographers often don’t get the credit they deserve. After all, a successful interiors image looks serene, even toned and un-dramatic. The skill that goes into making shot like this is not obvious. These photographers prefer natural light and a large depth of field from a small aperture so they will probably use a tripod. Their lens will be a wide angle – but not too wide like an estate agent. They may use a polarising filter to eliminate reflections. Their shots may be HDR to deal with the dark corners and bright windows. They may use coloured gels and massive lamps outside the window to fake good weather.

One photographer I know has a case full of flash guns and near magical skill in clamping them in unobtrusive corners to even the light with tiny pulses and reflectors. This allows him to include models in the shot without using HDR.

Duh …. What? Skip to this paragraph

If I’ve lost you a bit with all that technical guff, then skip to this paragraph, because now I’m going to show you how to fake it. What kind of shots can you get if you haven’t got all the right equipment? Let’s assume you’ve got your everyday camera, half a clue how to use it and no tripod or flashgun. You want to take an interiors shot that shows you have a great eye for photography.

As examples, I’m using pictures of the interior of Temple Newsam house near Leeds.

Step 1 – don’t take just any shot.

You have to accept there are some shots you simply can’t do. Avoid awkward reflective surfaces. Avoid high contrast near a window on a sunny day. This shot below is an example of this problem. The degree of contrast is far too high. The solution here may be to stand with the window behind you. Or come back on a cloudy day, at a time when the sun is on the other side of the building. Or just find something else to shoot!

How to Fake it as an Interiors Photographer on Falcondale Life blog. Temple Newsam House in Leeds has stunning interiors. If you have an everyday camera and half a clue how to use it, then use these tips to take a great interiors shot. How to compose a good shot and pick the right camera settings. What kind of shots can you take if you haven't got all the best equipment? Contrast is too high, this photo will not work.

The contrast is too great between the shadows and bright areas.

Step 2 – compose your shot

The two main things to remember here are lines and height. Interiors tend to have rigid lines and corners. Get your horizons straight and try to finish diagonal lines neatly in the corners of the frame. Try to allow space for an imaginary person to move through or sit the room. This is where the magic happens; people do imagine themselves in interiors shots and this can really sell it.

Then for height, hold your camera lower down between waist and chest height. You can see from the image below that if the camera is too high then we look down onto chair seats in the foreground as if we are high up, but in the background the bed looks more like a normal height. Vertical lines in the room are leaning. It’s visually confusing.

How to Fake it as an Interiors Photographer on Falcondale Life blog. Temple Newsam House in Leeds has stunning interiors. If you have an everyday camera and half a clue how to use it, then use these tips to take a great interiors shot. How to compose a good shot and pick the right camera settings. What kind of shots can you take if you haven't got all the best equipment? This shot has the wrong perspective, hold the camera lower.

The perspective is wrong because the camera is held too high up.

Step 3 – pick your settings

Use a wide angle but keep the edges of your photo looking realistic and not stretched. Set your ISO to a high number and don’t leave it on automatic. Set your aperture to something fairly small, ideally at least f/8. Your shutter speed should be set as low as your steady hands allow. The wide angle should help you here. Different people have different levels of hand steadiness; I can shoot hand-held at a 50th on a wide angle. Shoot RAW not jpeg if you have that ability. Take a test shot.

Step 4 – adjust your settings

If your test shot is too dark, then open up your aperture. Don’t set your shutter speed any slower or you will get movement blur from your shaking hands. Focus one third of the distance into your picture to try to keep it all sharp. If the shot is too bright then turn down your ISO and increase your shutter speed. Either way you do not need a perfect exposure. If you are shooting RAW then you can be almost 2 stops under or over-exposed and you will still be able to salvage your shot when you edit. Best to get it as close as you can, though.

Step 5 – fix it in post

I mean, edit it on your computer! Improve the exposure and white balance. Reduce contrast, brighten shadows then add some sharpening. Deal with any wonky horizons when you crop.

How to Fake it as an Interiors Photographer on Falcondale Life blog. Temple Newsam House in Leeds has stunning interiors. If you have an everyday camera and half a clue how to use it, then use these tips to take a great interiors shot. How to compose a good shot and pick the right camera settings. What kind of shots can you take if you haven't got all the best equipment?

I am pleased with this shot of the ballroom at Temple Newsam. The advantage of this room is its huge size meaning that the perspective was never too stretched. Also the windows spaced out at intervals give pretty even lighting except on the very far left. The lines in the ceiling and floor make it easy for me to compose the shot. Despite this the contrast was high and the shadows were dark so I did everything I mentioned in step 5 above!

Have you got any more tips to add? Please comment below!

If you want to get more into interiors photography and fake it less, these two blogs are great reading: DanD and Suzie Pratt for LifePixel

Read the previous blog in the Judging a Photograph Series by clicking here.

Read the Judging a Photograph Series from the start by clicking here.

Photalife

14 Comments

  1. 18th June 2017 / 9:29 pm

    Really great advice and an interesting read! I’d never considered some of the points you make, but I’ll be sure to adopt them now that I can see the difference they will make.

  2. 14th June 2017 / 9:47 am

    Really interesting post. I’m an avid reader of interior design magazines so it was fascinating for me to read about how they make the photos look so good.

    • 15th June 2017 / 11:37 am

      Those magazines are so beautiful, it’s hard to see the work that has gone into the photography!

  3. 12th June 2017 / 5:56 pm

    i never really put much thought into my shots, i take them as i see them
    #MySundayPhoto

  4. 12th June 2017 / 9:34 am

    Great advice. The wall colour on your top photo is amazing, so vivid. I’m never really tried interiors. I might give it a go after reading this 🙂 #MySundayPhoto

    • 15th June 2017 / 11:42 am

      It’s satisfying to nail a good shot! Thanks for your comment.

  5. 11th June 2017 / 10:03 am

    Thanks for all your great tips. I am always shooting interiors for my blog and I never even thought of holding the camera at chest level. I am definitely going to implement this.

    • 15th June 2017 / 11:44 am

      Great – good luck with that and I hope you see some good results!

  6. 11th June 2017 / 8:20 am

    Beautiful photos, I tend to use bracketed shots for interiors

    Thank you for linking up

    • 11th June 2017 / 8:27 am

      Yes I think you’re one of the people who will understand the first paragraph and doesn’t need to fake it! Thanks for commenting.

  7. 11th June 2017 / 6:25 am

    Some very useful advice there. Interior design shots can be very hard #MySundayphoto

  8. 11th June 2017 / 4:33 am

    Good advice! I like the final shot.

  9. 11th June 2017 / 12:42 am

    I am forever waiting for the perfect lighting, not too bright and not too dark when photographing our holiday cottages and lodges.

    • 15th June 2017 / 11:47 am

      Actually something I didn’t mention is adding thick voile to windows in daylight to dim them. This might help you.

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