HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR HOME
AND GET GORGEOUS MAGAZINE-QUALITY RESULTS


Improve your skills with insights from 4 photoshoot specialists

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.

...

Style your home for stunning photographic results

by Pippa Jameson

...

Master home photography using natural light

by Feature Shoot

...

Home videoing made easy

by Spacedust Films

...

Become a processing expert

by Tom Hodgson

Style your home for stunning photographic results
by Pippa Jameson

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

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.

  • The best part about drawing out your room is that you can easily see the flow of traffic. For instance, a large sofa isn’t going to work if you have to walk around it to get anywhere. The room needs to flow – this sense of space is an important characteristic of magazine interiors.
  • Think about where the windows and any light sources are. Will the sunlight shine on your television? (This can be irritating – and the reflections can ruin pics!)
  • Determine the focal point and dress it with eye catching pieces. This is where the eye will land when you first enter the room – and where the camera lens will focus. In theory, the largest piece of furniture should then point towards this focal point and everything else should be styled around it.

Choosing the right lighting

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).

Home videoing made easy
Home videoing made easy
  • The living room needs interchangeable lighting. It should be bright in the day, but with the option for ambience in the evening. Supplement this with floor and side lamps, which are perfect as they cast a soft light.
  • Use lighting, colour and materials to unify a space within a room.
  • Make sure the size of your lighting is in proportion with its surroundings. If you have a huge dining table or kitchen island, match the lighting accordingly. Avoid very low hanging pendants as they get in the way and can be a hazard. Ideally, pendant lights need to sit within the shape of the table by at least 1ft.
  • Consider introducing a little drama with your lighting. Lit stairs and inset ceiling lights look stunning and add interest to an otherwise dead space. A statement pendant in a high-ceilinged hallway looks fabulous and creates impact, as well as becoming a focal point for any photography.

How to work out a colour scheme

Colour is critical to interior design. But choosing your scheme is easy, if you follow my stylists’ advice.

  • Use the 60/30/10 rule. The 60% is your main colour (the foundation of your scheme, such as the walls, sofas or rugs). The 30% is your secondary colour (including items such as cushions, curtains and accessories). And the 10% is your highlight or accent colour (used in very small amounts).
  • When using the 60/30/10 rule, stick to two main colours and one neutral.

Home videoing made easy
  • Work your colour palette around any major items that you might not want to change, such as your sofas, carpets or curtains. If you’re beginning from scratch, find colours that you love, as you have to live in the space! Nature is always a good natural resource – or look on websites like Pinterest.
  • My top tip is to search through film-location houses; you can find them on agents’ websites. Many of these homes belong to design industry professionals, such as architects and stylists, and are often beautifully decorated. You can also see how the colours work in photos!
  • There is an amazing online (and free) tool called Coolors. You upload a picture and it gives you a selection of colour schemes based on the image. Below is an example of how it works.

Summary

Interior design gives your home personality and character, it should reflect your sense of style and be in tune with the way you live. If you follow these simple guides, taking fantastic photos that show off your home’s style will be a breeze.
Master home photography using natural light
by Feature Shoot

1. Shoot when natural light is soft and golden

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.”

Home videoing made easy

2. Be brave and test every possibility

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.”

3. Add extra lighting for better results

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!”

4. Shoot long and true

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.”

Home videoing made easy
Home videoing made easy

5. Patience is a virtue of all great photographers

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.”

Read More

3 professional photographers discuss using natural light to achieve beautiful interiors.
Home videoing made easy
by Spacedust Films

1. Choosing a video camera

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.

Home videoing made easy

2. Move the camera

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.

Basic camera moves

Tilting & Panning

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.

Home videoing made easy

Dolly shot

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

Steadicam shot

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
Home videoing made easy

3. Lighting and exposure

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.

4. Pay attention to detail

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...

Home videoing made easy
Home videoing made easy

5. Add some life to the scene

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!


Turn on the TV

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.


Get the fire roaring

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.

Home videoing made easy

The waterworks

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!


Add sound effects

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.

Summary

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:

  • A collection of short 10 second video postcards
  • Something you can show friends/family on your phone/tablet
  • A film to be uploaded to Facebook/YouTube/Vine/Pinterest

Time for action!

Become a processing expert
by Tom Hodgson

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.

Why I use Lightroom

Lightroom is a versatile resource which I like for a number of reasons:

  • I can take advantage of quick access to my RAW files, organised into a catalogued folder structure.
  • The programme makes it easy to add keywords as well as rating and marking images for selection and final production. It’s easy to compare before and after pictures to make sure things haven’t been edited too far too, as well as create digital copies.
  • It’s one piece of software that performs a number of functions and allows non-destructive workflow (which means the original images retain their information in an unchanged format)

I have broken the essential steps down into 4 easy-to-follow pieces of advice.

1. Make sure you have a level scene

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.


  • Start by using the “Lens Corrections” console in Lightroom which offers a quick fix to correct the lens profile and also remove any chromatic aberrations (where the lens is unable to focus all colours to the same point). I generally find that using the default correction profile for the lens used is enough.
  • While you’re here you should also take the spirit level tool and make sure that your image is level on the horizontal. If you’re not sure, find a good vertical or horizontal line in the middle of the image and use that as a guide.

2. Check the colour balance

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!

Original Image Original
Modified Image Modified

3. Get the light even and add some punch to the image

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.


  • If you’ve shot with a wide angle lens, you may find some vignetting – darker areas towards the four corners of the image. This will have been mostly corrected with the lens correction technique above, but may still need some manual tweaking. Adjust the sliders in the lens vignetting section under the lens correction console to achieve the best results.
  • Make sure the exposure and contrast are correct by using the sliders. You might also like to adjust the highlights and shadow sliders too: this will make sure the image doesn’t have too much contrast and that details aren’t lost in the image.
  • Finally, give the clarity a little bump too, and tweak the vibrancy to help give your image some well-deserved punch.
Original Image Original
Modified Image Modified

4. Clean up the image

Here’s where we give the image a final finish by touching up any unwanted artefacts such as dust spots and marks on walls.

  • Use the spot removal tool to get rid of smaller imperfections in an image. Set the brush to Heal – there’s no need for large amounts of cloning in Lightroom.
  • For larger areas, generally Adobe Photoshop is a better tool. The Stamp Tool and content aware functionality offer a much more robust and quicker way to achieve manipulation.
  • I generally find that doing this step last is best: if you want to manipulate anything in Photoshop, all other aspects of correction have been done first before exporting a copy to Photoshop for editing.
Original Image Original
Modified Image Modified

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.