6 tricks for shooting interiors

Dubai-based photographer Rebecca Hobday shares her know-how for making the most of interior and architecture shoots.

When it comes to architecture and interior photography, there is a lot more than meets the eye. If you or your clients have the budget, then it may be time to call a professional. When selecting a photographer, make sure he or she is experienced in shooting interiors as well as the right equipment. A professional camera and tripod is a given, but a professional-quality wide angle lens is a must too, particularly a tilt-shift lens.

They may be eye-wateringly expensive, but they are used to correct ‘perspective distortion’ on vertical and parallel lines and avoid the look of your building ‘falling back’. Taking the image is only the first step, so your photographer will also need to know his or her way around Photoshop, too.

If you have time or money constraints and you are forced to shoot yourself, then hopefully these six tips will help you to take photos that will be just as great as your interiors.

Use a DSL camera and tripod. As good as the iPhone may be, it will not ‘cut the mustard’ for this task. Also use your widest lens (16 to 24 mm round). A fish eye lens will make everything look barreled, so you need a straight forward wide lens. To capture all the light you will have to shoot at very low shutter speeds, so you’ll need a tripod and the camera set up so it’s level. To ensure that everything is in focus, set a narrow aperture of F11 or higher.

A lot of time is in the preparation. Move things around to get the most out of the space. Also play with the lighting – turn lamps on and off or move them around to light any dark corners. Tidy up any cables and plugs. It will pay dividends to check all the little details to avoid having to touch up images afterwards.

Think about how you want your audience to ‘feel’ when they have seen your designs. Be free to move things around to try and convey the messages you want. Think about props (magazines, laptops, food and drink) to create a mood. Although you don’t want too much clutter, sometimes less is more! Use furniture to create a natural ‘frame’ and any lines to lead the eye into the photography. Don’t be afraid to get high or low down to achieve interesting angles.

The trickiest part is getting the lighting right. An exposure inside will be vastly different to the sunny day out of the window. If you want to capture the view through the window as well, then you will either need an army of strobe lights to light up the inside or use Photoshop. Take multiple shots at different exposures and combine them all using HDR to produce one perfectly exposed image. Each shot needs to be identical, so you’ll need the tripod, too.

Reflections are your enemy! Even shiny tiles will reflect your shadow, so ensure you can’t be reflected in any mirrors and shiny surfaces. If it can’t be avoided, it may mean leaving your camera and tripod and taking the shot on a timer and removing the camera in Photoshop afterwards. You can also minimize light reflections on shiny surfaces by using a polarizing filter.

To show a very different mood you may want to consider some night shots. The best time is about 10 to 15 minutes immediately after sunset. The sun has gone down, but the sky still has a lovely blue colour. You will have to get your shots in quickly as you have a very short time before the sky turns inky black. Set everything up beforehand and you are ready to go.

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