Imagine taking only crisp, clean pictures that show off your home to its full glory. You can – these 4 expert-led property photography guides make getting magazine-quality results easy.
Learn from the pros how to style a room for a photoshoot. Discover the secrets to always taking incredible still and moving images. Master the postproduction tips that will make your shots better than ever.
I have been an interior stylist and consultant for 18 years and have worked on countless photoshoots. Hopefully, you’ll find some exceptional advice for achieving a gorgeous magazine look in Style your home for stunning photographic results.
Spatial planning helps you get the room and the photos you want. It ensures that the flow of the room is right and helps you decide exactly where each piece of furniture should go to show off the room’s full potential.
I find this part fun as it’s a challenge; will everything fit! By carrying out this exercise, it forces you to really know the space. Simply draw out the room dimensions on graph paper and fill in your furnishings. Scale down your plan by a decent amount; 100% is normally a good guide (a 2m-wide sofa becomes 2cm).
This keeps everything in proportion. Here is a good and free online tool if you want some help with the scaling down calculations.
Picking good lighting is fundamental to interior design – it’s also incredibly important for the composition of your photography.
Firstly, you need to determine the function of a space. For example, the cooking area in the kitchen will need to be bright so that you can see what you are doing. A great solution for this is down lights, which are ideal for the ceiling and for underneath wall cabinets. Large feature lights are great for over the dining table, but consider dimmer switches for instantly changing the ambience (great for setting the mood of your photos).
Colour is critical to interior design. But choosing your scheme is easy, if you follow my stylists’ advice.
If possible, shoot at dawn or dusk, when the daylight takes on a softer quality. You're looking for a golden glow, as opposed to blinding or direct sunlight.
“Light can be warm and glowing or cool and pristine, depending on the location, time of day, and choices of the photographer.”
Don’t be timid when it comes to staging. Experiment with the blinds on the windows and different sources of ambient light to see what works best in the space. If clutter or a large object is obstructing the rays and leaving some areas underexposed, reposition it so that it works for your shot.
“Light needs room to breathe in order to highlight the right areas or objects. An ideal set … includes neither too much nor too little light.”
Supplement natural light with the right kind of artificial light. Sometimes, natural light just isn’t enough, but this doesn’t mean that you need to bring in the heavy duty flash. Instead, enhance the natural gradient with carefully positioned strobes to fill in darker areas.
“For all its aesthetic merits, shooting in natural light comes with a unique set of challenges, the first being that often there isn’t enough of it!”
Use a tripod and long exposures. The objects in the space are (most likely) not going anywhere, so set up your tripod and let your shutter stay open to let in as much natural light as possible.
“Using natural light, especially indoors, necessitates a give and take between the will of the photographer and the whims of nature, a precarious dance that involves taming the light and surrendering to it at exactly the right moments.”
Be patient, stay flexible, and move around the space. Using natural light requires finesse, so you might have to try photographing different angles and positions before you get the image you want. A corner of the room is often the preferred spot for interior photographers, but that doesn’t mean that it will work for every shot. Shoot as many images from as many angles to increase your chances of catching the light in an appealing way.
“For an interior photographer, light is essential to capturing the spirit of a place.”
If you want to jump straight in, the easiest and quickest way to start filming is with your mobile phone or tablet. Most devices now have a video-recording function alongside the photo icon – make sure you change the video mode to the highest quality (look for 720p or 1080p in your settings).
The best option for video recording is a DSLR camera. As well as recording high quality movies, it doubles up as a great photography camera. The ability to interchange lenses is also beneficial as you can film both wide-angle shots and detailed closeups.
Photography is a still image, but video is 25 images per second and it is the displaying of these consecutive frames that produces movement. When filming a home, the camera needs to move or the video will look like a still photograph.
A tripod can help you steady the camera and create movement in the shot. It only takes seconds to erect and adjust, yet it can help you take great footage.
Tilt: Moving the tripod head up or down while keeping its horizontal axis constant. Nod your head up and down – this is tilting.
Pan: Moving the tripod head to one side or another. Look to your left, then look to your right – that's panning.
In addition to the tripod, there is a video slider that sits on top of the tripod. The camera is moved smoothly left to right to produce a dolly shot. A useful tip is to place the tripod or slider in different corners of the room to see which angle looks the best and to give you options when you edit the movie.Watch the video to see tripod and slider techniques in action
The final way to create movement is via a stabiliser, which balances the camera so it doesn’t sway from side to side and you can walk from one room to another. This is called a steadicam shot.See how Spacedust Films perform a steadicam shot
Nothing makes a room look more inviting than good lighting. The camera picks up interior light beautifully and it adds a real sparkle to a home.
Even on the brightest of days, all the lights in a room need to be switched on. That’s everything from pendant lights, spotlights, floor lamps, side lights, the cooker hood light and bathroom mirror lights. You can also add extra lights with candles (which looks fantastic in bathrooms).
Bright sunshine streaming through a window can be a major problem for the auto exposure mode on a DSLR, leaving the interior looking dull. To overcome this, window blinds and shutters can be pulled down to cover half the window and filter the sunlight. Another solution is to film interiors around sunset, when the sun is lower in the sky and less harsh.
The camera is very unforgiving! There is nothing worse than replaying footage and noticing a stray sock on the floor, an upturned rug, or a cupboard door open.
Be eagle eyed and check the scene before you shoot. Look through the camera viewfinder to see if there’s anything that could ruin the shot. After decluttering, you should accessorise and make the room look special. Dress the dining table, put some fashion magazines on the coffee table, place luxury toiletries in the bathroom...
Without people in the shot, you need to generate you own subtle movements to add some warmth and atmosphere to the home interior. Below is a list of tips, but use your imagination!
TVs can add colour and action to an interior. An ‘on’ television looks much better than having a big black box in the corner of a room.
Consider the style of your home and the room you are filming. If you live in a modern apartment, choosing a dynamic music channel works well. If your home is more traditional or period, play an old Hollywood black and white classic film in the background to set the scene.
If you are filming a young child’s room, then a Disney DVD adds a little playful magic.
The only caveat is to avoid adverts on the TV. A commercial for a pay loan company can really spoil the look of the home interior shot.
Everyone loves to see a working fire when they enter a room. Even if you don't have a traditional open fire or log burner, turn on any glow lights or living flames. The full fire can be lit or a simpler option is to light a mini stack of newspapers and kindling just prior to shooting to give 5 minutes of flames.
Running water is a subtle addition, but can add a touch of life to a home interior, especially in bathrooms. Let the water flow from those designer taps or shower heads!
With video, you have the option to include sound, which should be added at the editing stage. This could be things like a shower sound, a radio playing in the background or the sound of bird calls coming through an open window.
Start small, get used to the settings on the camera and concentrate on one room.
Be creative with some extra movement in the shot.
The movie does not have to be too long. Consider each home interior clip as:
Time for action!
So now you’ve performed your architectural property shoot following all the important advice offered in the other guides. Now it’s time to make sure that you truly have the stellar property photos you set out to achieve.
This short tutorial is based in Adobe Lightroom CC 2015, but you could easily achieve the same results using other popular photo editing tools as the basic principles remain the same. Shooting your scenes using the RAW format allows a bigger range of adjustment without loss of quality.
Lightroom is a versatile resource which I like for a number of reasons:
I have broken the essential steps down into 4 easy-to-follow pieces of advice.
Depending on how you have shot the scene, you may well find you don’t quite have the horizontal and vertical lines level. Now is the time to put that right, as well as correcting any lens distortion that may have occurred.
Ideally you will already have managed to achieve the correct colour balance during the shoot with the white balance settings in camera. However, there are always going to be instances where you want to tweak this. What we are looking for here is to achieve a natural-looking scene where the colour tones are warm without creating a yellow image. After all, the images need to be as inviting as possible!
Next is to make sure the balance in the image is right. Often there can be stark contrasts in the image with lots of light pouring into the room creating shadowy areas and blown highlights.
Here’s where we give the image a final finish by touching up any unwanted artefacts such as dust spots and marks on walls.
We hope you enjoyed this helpful guide and can now take beautiful photos of your home. Share this info and give your friends access to professional creative tips and skills.