Photography was one of my first true loves. The kind of love that only gets better with time and patience – and hours and hours in the darkroom! When I first started using my mom’s old Minolta, I was 15, and I was so, so careful with what I wanted to capture. After all, I only had 24 shots (quite literally) to document teenage life as I knew it. Friends. Sleepovers. My bedroom. My pets. I was still learning my way around the manual settings, and I’d mentally keep track of how many photos I had left so as not to run out when I might need that last photo the most.
Things have changed since then, of course. Now, we can take 50 photos of the same thing, choose our favorite and delete the rest! (Please, please delete the rest for the sake of sanity.) But I find myself still practicing my old ways, doing what I can to get The Shot the first time (or at least the fourth or fifth, tbh). The same goes for photos I share on this blog, because truthfully, who has time to sift through all the ‘bad’ photos in hopes there’s a ‘good’ one? But to prevent interior photography from feeling stale, there comes a few extra steps to evoke a sense of warmth – and as we’re all home lovers here, isn’t that what we’re striving for? To share not just our home, but to share the homes we’ve poured our hearts into with how they make us feel?
Today’s post has been highly requested over the years, so I’m excited to finally share this with you!
6 Things You Can Do Today to Take Better Photos of Your Home
1| Wait for the right time of day
This will be different for every home and every room within that home. My perfect interior shooting conditions are a cloudy (but not rainy) day and when the sun is shining behind a soft haze from the south – but that’s a rare occasion, ha! You’ve probably all heard that shooting with natural light is best, and yes, there is truth in that. But don’t be afraid to wait until dusk if that’s when your space feels the most magical to you. Don’t be afraid to turn on a soft lamp. Don’t be afraid to shoot when the morning shadows are strongest. Sometimes, these are the things that breathe personality into a photo.
2| Take 1 minute to really look at the room
Clearing up the previous day’s clutter is one thing, but take an extra minute to look at the space you’ll be photographing. Like, really look at. Are the curtains pleated nicely? Are the tags and zippers on your throw pillows facing away from you? Could you smooth over your favorite couch cushion? Oh, and don’t forget about the rogue Lego under the credenza! Do not, however, strip away your personality. You do you.
3| Become BFFs with your tripod
I know, I know, getting out the tripod can feel like a hassle, but it doesn’t have to! I keep mine tucked in the corner of our home studio, so it’s never a chore to grab and go. And if you’re reading this, I assume you want to take the best photo possible, right? Your tripod will help you with that. Not only will it allow you to keep your shot level, but you can use your manual settings to get the best resolution, too. Think: A lower ISO, smaller aperture (which means a higher number, such as f/16) and a longer exposure (shutter speed). I have this tripod and absolutely love it. Note: I’d be happy to talk through the more technical stuff and why it matters, if you’re interested. Let me know in the comments!
4| Get low + square up
This step is two-fold, but they work in tandem and are so important. A common mistake I see with interior photos is taking the photo from your eye level, which is much too high! When this happens, furniture – which is typically much lower to the ground – can look dinky and disproportionate to the scale of the room. Start by setting your tripod lower, so that when you look through your lens, you’re crouching or almost down on one knee. A good rule of thumb is to position your camera right above waist level.* Furniture looks more substantial, fills the frame better and is more ‘square’ when a photo is taken below eye level. Which leads me to…
… Keep your lines square. A room is filled with lines – the walls, ceiling, floor, dining table, sofa – and for the most part, a photo will look more polished when the perspective is nice and straight. Imagine a grid over that the shot you see through the lens. Move your camera up/down and side-to-side until the lines of the room square up to the imaginary lines of the grid. (Post-processing helps with this, too, but more on that in a second!)
*The only exception to this would be, say, a kitchen. Standard countertops are 36″ high, and you’re likely also competing with upper cabinets (and don’t want to only see the underside!). In this case, I keep my camera around chest/neck height.
5| Add life
Fresh greenery. The cat. A flickering candle. You! These are the things that make your house a home, and they’re just as important as (if not more than) the effort you’ve put into the perfect rug and sofa.
6| Never underestimate the power of post-processing
Taking the time to edit, or post-process, your final room shot is pure magic – and it might be my favorite part! I do a quick edit through Lightroom (color balance, perspective and any cropping), and then I have a handful of favorite actions I like to run in Photoshop. If that sounds overwhelming to you, there are countless phone apps that help make this step easy, while also giving you control over the intensity of filters (hot tip: less is always more). Within these apps, you can also make edits to how you’ve framed your photo, including cropping, the removal of distortion, and horizontal and vertical perspective. Usually, an app will also overlay a grid to your photo so you can efficiently ‘square up.’ Note: The app I go to time and time again is A Color Story, both for phones and desktop!
Let’s all go forth and take better photos of our home! If you already implement these tips into your photography, I’d love to know – and I hope you’ll share your trade secrets, too.