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In order to take great interior photography you need to take an honest assessment of yourself.
Are you someone who typically has “an eye” for photography? Do you know when you see a great photo? Do you have any appreciation for the thought and care that goes into framing and lighting a beautiful photograph?
If you answered yes, then you just need the right basic equipment and a quick lesson in interior photography. If you answered no, then I would honestly suggest hiring a professional to shoot for you.
For this, you could ask friends or search on Google, but the best option is often using FixedPricePhoto.com because we are the only haggle-free and affordable way to get professional photography in Los Angeles.
For those, who really want to learn how to take an interior photography of your home or business for themselves, lets get started!
Make sure that you have a decent camera, a tripod, and perhaps some external lighting. As for cameras, you can use any camera you would like. Ones that have interchangeable lenses will be a nice plus because a wide angle lens can really help with interiors. A DSLR is ideal, but a point and shoot or even a phone could be made to work if properly stabilized with excellent lighting.
The most ideal situation is to use only natural light. This means no light bulbs, no flash, no lamps. This can only work if your camera is fully stabilized on a tripod and if you slow down the shutter speed of the camera to allow for a longer exposure to let enough natural light in. A cloudy day can be real helpful in that it offers diffuse light which creates even lighting and less harsh shadows.
In addition to a camera, tripod, and lighting you will need some photo editing software. The most idea software would be some version of Photoshop, Aperture, or Lightroom. Additionally iPhoto could suffice. Lastly, there are some great free photo editors such as GIMP and even some excellent web-based photo editing tools such as Aviary, FotoFlexer, and Pixlr.
If you are using a DSLR (which you should be), make sure to shoot in RAW. This is a lossless image format unlike the JPGs that you may be used to. RAW files are much larger than JPG which may seem annoying but this is very important since they contain a lot more information. Why does this matter? Well, when you go to edit the photo afterwards you will have much more flexibility. You will be able to fix underexposed areas and adjust the white balance in ways that are impossible to do without the RAW file.
Having a properly framed image is more than half of the battle in interior photography or any photography for that matter. One technique is to make sure that you are shooting straight on. This means aligning your camera with one of your walls. This will allow you to make sure that your ‘horizon’ is not slanted. Imagine shooting a photo of the ocean horizon. You would want to make sure that the horizon line is parallel with the bottom of the image. Most cameras have built in grids that can help with this. Of course this is not a strict rule and there are many ways to compose a photo without aligning the lens with a wall, but this is a simple way for beginners to ensure a properly composed image.
Another important thing is to rearrange your environment to capture a great shot. Make sure to eliminate small items that cause clutter and to arrange small items that you want in the frame nicely. If an item is of contrasting color to the rest of the environment it can possibly be a distraction from the image. Sometimes this is a nice complement to the rest of the room and determining this is something you either get or you don’t. Thus another reason why hiring a professional can help. A wide angle lens can help bring more of the room into the frame, but beware that this can also distort the image and make it look like an aquarium! Sometimes photo software can help fix this distortion. Just know that shooting with a wide angle lens is a skill that takes time and practice to perfect.
Make sure you have the right objects in focus. Your depth of field is what dictates what is in focus. Sometimes you see photos where the main subject is in focus but the background is blurry. These means that there is a real shallow depth of field. Depth of field is a rather complicated concept that can be learned in detail on Wikipedia. Essentially, truly precise focus can only be possible at one distance at a time. At any other distance you will get a blurred spot shaped like the aperture of the camera (circular). We shall call this the ‘circle of confusion’ Factors that influence the depth of field include the focal length of the camera, the f-number, the format size, and the circle of confusion. Talk about confusion! Lets just take a step back and realize the general concepts here….
For our purposes, just know that the aperture controls the depth of field. Reducing the aperture diameter (increasing the f-number) increases the DOF (depth of field). Decreasing the aperture size reduces the circles of confusion which cause the ‘confusing’ blurriness. A smaller aperture means less blur for objects not directly in the plane of focus. Thus, if you have a larger aperture, you will have larger circles of confusion and more blurriness for items not in the plane of focus. You can read more about depth of field in our post entitled: Understanding Depth of Field.