9 Helpful Tips for DIY Home Interior Photography (part 1)




Here are nine basic steps you can use to obtain pretty decent home interior photos with your smartphone or similar camera. 


This is a shot I took today with my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone camera. The room is spacious and has adequate light so it wasn't too much of a challenge. 

Next month, in part 2 of this tutorial, I'll tackle a more difficult room. I'll use my S5 again, but I'll also create "money shot" for comparison using a Nikon DSLR camera with a wide angle lens, and a special lighting technique.

Following these basic tips will help you get your best interior shot.
  1. Pick the right time of day. Select a time of day when there are no direct sunlight rays spilling into the area you are photographing. Or alternatively, you can easily block off-camera windows that are the source of strong light rays with black trash bags. Simply mist them with water and they will stick to the window for the duration of your shoot.
  2. Prepare your room. Remove any clutter and arrange the room for the shot, which may be different from the way you arrange it for day-to-day living. Move unnecessary furniture out of the scene (I removed furniture from the foreground in this shot). Turn all lights in the room ON, and turn any ceiling fans, televisions, etc. in the room OFF.
  3. Use a wide-angle lens. I like an 18-20 mm lens for interior shots. Most iPhones and Android phones aren't this wide but can often suffice. My Samsung Galaxy S5 has a focal length of 31 mm. It worked well for this room, but a 20 mm lens will be necessary to handle small rooms (e.g., bathrooms) nicely.
  4. Use ambient light, not flash. I recommend not using on-camera flash unless you are able to bounce it off a white ceiling - a feature not normally available on basic or phone cameras. The reason for this is on-camera flash will usually create unflattering hot spots in room photos.
  5. Stabilize your camera. Using only ambient light will often cause your camera to use a longer exposure so you will need to stabilize your camera to avoid blurring due to the camera moving during the shot. Ideally you should mount your camera on a tripod and use the built in timer to actuate the shutter. This ensures the camera will be perfectly still when the picture is taken.

    I use this spring loaded holder from Amazon to attach my phone to most anything. I originally bought it for attaching my phone-based golf gps to my push cart, but I've since found a lot of other uses for it. Here, I'm using it to mount my phone on the vertical shaft of my tripod. Don't have a tripod? Use a chair, step ladder, or whatever.



    I've also used it to mount my phone on my car's center console emergency brake handle for playing music on long trips. It is a handy little device.
  6. Position the camera. Generally, position it in a corner of the room, shooting toward the far corner, to give a more spacious look to the room. Choose the corner that gives you a view of the most important features in the room. As a general rule (but there are exceptions) avoid having foreground objects (chairs, etc.) that distract and make the room look crowded. You may need shots from more than one corner to best showcase your room's features.

    Orient the camera horizontally (landscape mode) unless your photos will be used exclusively on a mobile device. You want the lens axis to be perfectly level (i.e., parallel to the floor, perpendicular to the opposing wall) to avoid parallax where walls appear to be leaning toward or away from you. I usually position the camera slightly above the vertical midpoint. So for a 10 ft ceiling, I might have the camera about 5 1/2 feet above the floor.

    Watch out for lights reflecting on pictures, or even worse - your own reflection in a mirror or picture.
  7. Set your camera exposure mode. For many room shots you can get away with auto exposure mode. Certainly try that first. Most smart phone cameras now support HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode to bring out more of the room details. I tend to use HDR more often than not on interior shots with my S5.

    If you find your image is still too dark because you are not using flash, try these manual adjustments in this order if available on you camera.
    - increase the exposure length if your camera is on a tripod or otherwise stabilized, or
    - increase the ISO setting, but not so much to add visible noise to your photo, or
    - increase the aperture (i.e., from f8 to f5.6) but less of your image will be in focus.
  8. Set your point of focus. It is impossible to have everything from the closest object to the farthest object perfectly in focus. In the shot here, I focused on the books on the coffee table, as this is probably the first place a viewer's eye will be drawn to.
  9. Optionally, post process your images. It is often impossible to completely avoid parallax. Photo editing programs like Adobe's Lightroom make it easy to correct parallax, and also to correct framing, color and exposure issues. 
I am a freelance photographer/videographer and often do architectural assignments. You can see a few examples of my work on my website.

Items used in this article:

2 comments

  1. To make your photo better try to use HDR Lightroom 5 plugin http://hdrprograms.com/hdr-lightroom-5/ this is great solution to increase your photos quality fast.

    ReplyDelete

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