8 Pro Tips for Photographing Rooms
Get the perfect picture of your space with this expert advice
Capturing flattering photos of your home's interior can be important if you're putting the place on the market, planning to rent it, or showcasing a recent room renovation online for some other reason. But a lot goes into staging and shooting living spaces, enough to stump novice shutterbugs. We asked four professional photographers to share their tips and tricks.
1. Take a walk
Before settling in a corner and snapping a few shots, explore the room from all angles. "Your eyeball sees very differently than your camera," says Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn, of Atlanta. "I walk around with the camera up to my eye. I don't necessarily take a picture, but I look through the lens."
2. Find the right light
"Know when to have lights on and know when to have lights off," says Mimi Erickson, of Marietta, Georgia. Decide what type of light you need for the picture you want. Ambient light casts a warmer, yellow tint, while natural light casts a cooler, blue tint. Lamps and fixtures can also leave halos or patterns on walls.
3. And make sure you get enough of it
Whether you're relying on natural light, ambient light, or both, the trick is to get enough of it without having to use your camera's flash. "I use a tripod, which allows me to have a longer exposure," says Llewellyn. If you don't have access to a tripod, tweak the ISO, which makes the camera more or less sensitive to light.
4. Think low
"People tend to shoot at eye level," says Roe A. Osborn, of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. If you're shooting at eye level in an 8-foot high room you're going to capture a lot of extra floor space. "Bring the camera down to a level that's just above the mid-range height of the room."
5. Be snap-happy
Rather than try to squeeze a whole room into one frame, take multiple detailed photos. "Find nice vignettes of a space and photograph a room in part," Llewellyn says. You can contextualize a zoned-in space by peeking through doorways or entryways and into the surrounding areas. "I try to tell a story and try to connect one room to the next."
6. Simplify: Declutter Countdown
Sure, your kitchen counters, topped with appliances, fruit bowls, and flower vases, look good day-to-day. But the compressed 2-D photo frame makes your surfaces look jam-packed. David Paler, of New York City, says to stash about every other item. "You're taking pictures of the room, not taking pictures of your stuff."
7. Simplify: Take a fresh look
"You get so used to your stuff, you don't realize what's there," says Erickson. "I try to visualize (a room) through someone else's eyes." You'll notice the focal points you want to capture, like that beautiful centerpiece, and the distractions you don't, like the wall hooks that hold your keys.
8. Crop the extras
The camera may capture a lot of the ceiling and the floor, especially if you're using a wide-angle lens. Paler calls it the "hamburger effect." "You get a huge bun above and a huge bun below." Once you upload the photo, use a cropping tool to slice off the fluff and focus on the meat of the room.