Interior Architectural Photography TIPS

Getting the best architectural interior photo is not always easy there are many challenges such as lighting, tight space, obstructions, and people.  Professional photographers have many tools and expensive photography equipment to get perfect interior photograph and often some control over these challenges.  However, like me, most of you probably do not have a lot of photography equipment when traveling and pretty much no control over the lighting and people.

Here are some tips to get you the best interior architectural photo possible.

  • Spend a few moments to determine what elements of the space are important to capture
  • Compose the photo on an angle so the camera is not facing a wall but rather into a corner OR if the space is symmetrical try taking a photo at the center of the room to emphasize the symmetry.

The slight angle in this photo’s composition helped showcase the sloping ceiling and angels of the room (Taliesin West, Scottsdale, left).
Due to the perfect symmetry of this space and photo was intended to exaggerate the symmetry (Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York, right)

Look up – some buildings are all about the ceilings but if you never look up you will never know.
  • Don’t use a flash – unless you really know what you are doing and have a good external flash I wouldn’t bother, likely the flash will produce hot spots and unwanted reflections.
  • Interior shots can be better when the camera is about 5 feet off the ground –  When we hold our cameras high we get more tabletop and floor but lowering the camera and tilt it up slightly will result in seeing more of the space – try shooting from different heights, you will be surprised how much difference it makes.
  • Include People – sometimes waiting for everyone to get out of the shot is a lost opportunity.  People show scale and interaction with the architecture – if you leave your lens open a bit longer the people, if moving, will be blurred so they will be a bit out of focus and not necessarily the focal point.  This can be done in Photoshop too later as well

This photo wouldn’t have scale or meaning without the two people praying

  • Shoot in JPEG and RAW – Unless you are running out of room on your memory card it is good to have both.  RAW images allow for much more control over the post-production process but not every shot needs to be modified and so the JPEG is perfect.
  • Always try to keep your ISO as low as possible and adjust your white balance appropriately.  Try to avoid shooting into florescent lights and mixing lighting types (I know easier said then done but it is good to keep in mind.  Different light gives off different color which can make a mess of your photo).
  • A tripod is always ideal for interior photography however often that is just not possible.  If the light is dim and you need to leave your shutter open try to find somewhere to set your camera down.  There are a few alternatives to the giant tripods such as The POD or the The Monsterpod.

The Pod Red Bean Bag Camera Support  supports compact cameras, advanced point and shoot cameras, camcorders, DSLRs with a short focal length lens, microphones, etc. It is built-in 1/4″ camera mount and provides support on regular or irregular surface like rocks, benches, cars, on the ground, etc

Joby GPM-A1EN GorillaPod Magnetic Flexible Tripod (Black) is a flexible tripod designed for digital cameras weighing up to 9.7 ounces (325 grams), it fits into your purse, backpack, or jacket pocket, Innovative segmented leg design to ensure secure mounting and has a standard universal 1/4-20 screw for attaching your camera to the tripod mount.

  • If you can’t find anywhere to place the camera down try leaning against a wall and holding the camera tight to your body (exhale before you take your shot). You can always fix some composition and rotate the photos later but blur cannot be fixed.
    • Left hand holding the camera, fingers softly gripping the lens
    • Right hand is used for controlling the camera settings
    • Elbows together, pressing on the chest
    • Camera firmly against the forehead, head leaning towards the camera

Photos by:  www.expertphotography.com/how-to-hold-a-camera

  • An ultra wide-angle lens will distort at the edges of the photograph so although you can usually get a lot more of the space in your photo it will look distorted and sometimes curved at the edges.  In many types of photography such as landscapes this is not a big deal but in architectural photography straight lines can make or break the photograph.  Wide-angle lens are also expensive.

My suggestion is using a standard lens; mine is an 18 to 55mm and take a series of overlapping photos.  Each photo should overlap at least 1/3 of the frame.  Focus your lens and then turn your lens auto-focus off.  When you get home you can use the photomerge tool in Photoshop to blend all the photos into one photograph.

This is an outdoor photo however I was unable to get the entire space in a single frame due to the space restrictions so it was take in five separate photos and stitched together in Photoshop using the photomerge tool.

(The previous tip is intended for DSLR cameras however if you have a point and shoot, many new point and shoot cameras have a panorama setting – check your manual to maximize the features.)

Interior architectural photography is not easy but practice makes perfect. Try some of these techniques in your home so you become comfortable with interior architectural photography.

Let me know if this helps or you have any tips you would like to share.

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