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Over the past few years I’ve really developed a passion for capturing interior spaces. Whether it’s your first time taking an interior photo, or your 100th time, there’s always something more to learn while you strive to perfect your shot – and that’s how you become a pro!
Sometimes hiring a professional photographer isn’t an option, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take professional looking photos on your own. No matter the space – hotel room, cute café, a beautiful home remodel, or your own home, the elements are all the same for photographing it. Capturing the space isn’t just all about how well you photograph it, but how you edit it to bring that vision to life. Adding a little bit of spice takes your photos from ok, to wow!
Here are some tips to help improve your photography and editing skills, with some helpful links at the end.
Lighting is everything when it comes to photography! Even though a phone camera doesn’t allow you to adjust for lighting settings as much as a DSLR would, it still lets you adjust a bit. So, making sure you have more natural light in your space is even more important. The more natural light you have in an image, the clearer and less grainy your image will be.
Whenever possible, try to use natural light and keep those lamps and over-head lights off! Added light usually has a yellow tint to it, which can distort the colouring. Using natural light also helps with removing harsh shadows. A lot of people think that you need sunshine to capture your photos, but actually an overcast day is better, as it will make the lighting in your space softer.
One may ask, “How bright does the room need to be?” I always recommend to make it bright enough to enjoy with the naked eye, but not too bright that the shine washes all the detail. You also want to make sure that your space is as evenly lit as possible. This can be achieved in a couple different ways.
If you’re finding that the space is way too bright, you can usually adjust your phone camera’s exposure. How to do this is depending on what phone you’re using – so a quick Google search should be able to tell you how!
Keeping your verticals … well, vertical, is key to the proper perspective of an interior. Using a tripod will simplify your life, as they are made for tasks like this. You can think you’re holding your phone straight, but the lines will always give you away. There is a chance that you may still be a little off, but that can be fixed easily in Lightroom, and a lot less likely to happen if a tripod is used.
A helpful tool to use when trying to make sure your lines are straight, is turning on the grid lines on your camera. This can typically be found in the camera settings on your phone. Using the grid lines will help you see that your verticals in your space stay straight up and down (walls, picture frames, table legs, etc.). Capturing a space at a proper furniture height, will create an image that stands out even if the lighting isn’t great.
Often when you’re shooting an interior, it’s recommended to get a bit lower, as eye level typically is looking down into your space – which, as you guessed it, isn’t keeping your verticals vertical. The usual height is about 5 feet off the floor, or about chest height.
Crazy angles are fun and all, but it’s typically best with interiors to keep your photos shot straight on. You can shoot into corners to show the full space, or a different angle, but make sure that you’re still keeping your verticals vertical. Another reason why using a tripod is best.
If you want a space to look appealing, it has to be clean. Scrub the counters, wipe down the fridge and stove, put things away that don’t compliment the space. You’ve spent all this time making it look beautiful with the build/renovation and design, you want to showcase it as best as possible. Grease-y spots, and dust don’t look so bad in person (within reason of course), but a camera really picks them up. You can be as handy in Photoshop as you can be, but it’s still not fun to edit out smudges if you don’t have to.
Moving around the room helps to showcase the area as a full space. Get a photo from afar, get in close and focus on those details, and switch it up.
Keep in mind the rule of thirds when capturing your space – the grid will help again with this. The rule of thirds is when you position items on the 4 corners of the horizontal lines, and when you mentally divide your space by those lines as well.
Position your main elements in the shot along those lines, or at the points in which they diverge. It’s always a good idea to have depth when shooting a space. Have something on the counter that’s closer to you and have elements at the back of the photo as well.
Great photos straight from the camera are always the goal, but that’s not always possible, and with today’s editing software, you’re missing out on that wow factor if you don’t post-process your photos.
There are many editing software apps out there either paid or free, but my personal favorite is Lightroom. Lightroom has tons of uses, and in my experience, delivers the best results. It is available for both desktop and mobile.
Here are some ways you can edit your photos in Lightroom to make them pop!
Once you download the Lightroom app, load in all the photos and select the ones you want to edit. From there, there are lots of editing tools along the bottom. Your two main ones are your Light tab, and the Color tab.
When you’re looking at the Light tab, here are some notes; exposure will adjust the brightness of the photo, contrast will adjust the harsh and softness of the highlights and shadows, and then you can adjust the highlights and shadows each individually. Play around with each slider, and you’ll see such a difference!
The color tab will adjust the white balance – that’s the overall color of your photo. You can make it warmer by bringing up the yellow, or cooler with going more towards blue. This also applies to the green and magenta sliders. You may need to make adjustments on both of the sliders to capture the right mood you are trying to portray in your photo.
You can also play with the saturation and vibrancy of the colors in your photo. I recommend not going too wild with these sliders, as the allure of the over saturated images of the past are out.
You can also download pre-sets to help with getting your photos juuuuuust right. This will help you keep the editing of the images consistent, which is really important when looking at the photo reel as complete package. Yet another way you can make sure your photos are consistent when editing, is Copy and Paste. Sounds pretty simple right? Right!
To do this, tap the three dots in the circle in the top right corner. From there you will see a list pop up, and you’ll tap Copy Settings. You will then see the settings list where you can select all of the edits you’ve made that you want to paste onto your next photo, then tap the check mark. You’ll then go to your next photo, tap the same circle at the top and tap Paste Settings.
Another easy step that will get you the same results, is all the way on the right of the tabs at the bottom, there’s a Previous tab. This will copy all of the settings from your previous photo and paste them on this one.
Sometimes your tripod won’t be perfectly level, so we can play with this really cool feature in Lightroom that will straighten everything out. You can go into the Geometry tab, and then click “Auto” and it will straight right out! Sometimes you may still need to level it out, and you’ll find that in the crop tab on the far left. You can see the difference in the photos below, on the left is before the Auto Geometry, and on the right is the after.
One thing to note if you go the pre-sets route, is you’ll be told they’re a one click photo saver – they’re usually not. Every camera, and every phone will capture light and colours differently. You’ll usually still need to adjust exposure, colours, highlights, etc. There’s no shame in using them, just make sure you’re making the photo your own as well. Once you’ve determined how you like your photos to look, you can create your own pre-sets too!
Here are some of my recommended products to help you capture the best photos.
Tripods (priced low – high)
Cameron Tripod with Ballhead – Ballheads are usually higher recommended for tripods as you can get a better range in movement and angles.
Manfrotto Compact Tripod with Ballhead – Manfrotto is a big name in photography.
Neewer 2-in-1 Tripod with Ballhead – I just bought this one, and it’s so great!
Phone Tripod Mount – This helps you attach your phone to your tripod.
Bluetooth Phone Remote – This can help you stay hands free, which will help to avoid camera shake. Or if you’re photographing a tight space, and you can’t stand behind your tripod to press the button, this will help you take the photo while standing off to the side.