Have you ever noticed that when you take a photograph of your space…..so many times what your eye sees….
….doesn’t always translate?
(total aside: there’s a life lesson in there somewhere if we weren’t talking photography today).
When I first started taking pictures for the blog….I would style the room and be so all about it and think everything was perfect and grab the camera and take a picture and through the viewfinder…..
….it looked amazing.
Like Better Homes and Gardens should be knocking at the door.
But when I downloaded the photos and actually looked at the pictures….yikes….not so much.
It takes practice and learning how to think like a camera to get it right.
So 4754 pictures and hundreds of rooms later….here’s what I’ve learned from the picture-taking-school-of -hard-knocks.
Five tips for taking better photos of a room.
1. Lighting makes the difference
Just like a super model….each room has its “good side.”
For example, our dining room is at the very front of the house and gets bright morning sunlight because it faces east.
But if you take the picture when the sunlight is too bright….the room can look a little washed out.
The sunlight comes into the room and almost overpowers it and changes the color on the walls and the textiles in the space.
If you wait too late in the day….the shadows are too much for the room.
It looks dark and mysterious which is fine if you are writing the next American suspense novel….but for a room photograph? Not so much.
And here’s the supermodel at about 4:00 pm.
The beauty hour.
The wall color looks right and you can see glimpses of the outside because the sun is on the other side of the house.
2. Change your perspective
This shot of the dining room looks completely different from the image in the first tip.
It’s taken straight on instead of at an angle.
When photographing a room….think outside the box. Take pictures and pictures and more pictures. I’ve stood on a ladder in the corner of a room to photograph the room looking down at the space or put the tripod on top of the table and flipped it upside down to photograph the table top or stood in another room or outside the front door to take a full room picture.
A new perspective changes everything.
(total aside: another life lesson).
3. Try to see eye-to-eye
When taking vignettes in your space remember to take the pictures at eye level. This can be challenging sometimes, especially if you don’t use a tripod.
I’m short. As in 5 foot on a really good day.
And because my vantage point is a lot closer to the ground….many times I’m aiming the camera up when I’m holding it.
Adjusting the camera angle so your vignette is at eye level makes such a difference.
Here’s a photograph taken at eye level.
And here’s the same photograph taking looking down.
See the difference?
The camera distorts the images and adds shadows.
You can easily change the eye level perspective of an image by using a tripod and lowering and raising the camera.
4. The focal point is your friend
This is a subtle change….but it can add drama and personality to your room images.
Here’s the exact same picture, except I changed the focal point.
Note: this is much easier to do if you are manually focusing. Just change the lens to manual focus and move the square around on the screen to change your focal point. Then focus with the dial on the very end of the lens.
In this photograph I focused on the wreath in the center of the picture.
Here the focus is on the hydrangea in the front of the picture.
Notice how the curtains and the vase on the other side of the gate are blurry and out of focus.
And here’s the opposite effect.
I focused on the far vase instead.
Notice how the hydrangea in the front are blurry and out of focus now.
By changing the focal point…..you can focus on what’s really important.
5. Sometimes you don’t need to see the whole picture to get the idea
Every room has hidden textures and patterns and visual stories to tell….that you might miss with a wide shot.
Take time to showcase the small details.
Like the tips of the feathers on this wreath against a garden gate.
Or the patina of this chippy iron cloche outlined against the brilliant green from outside.
Or the vase of hydrangea on the table that echoes the hydrangea on the hutch in the back ground.
Take pictures of a part instead of the whole.
Take pictures of simply fabric.
Take pictures of a pattern or texture found on a piece of furniture in the room.
It’s as if the overall room shot is the headline in the book….
…..and these detail shots are the chapters in the story.
All the pictures in this post (well….except this one) were taken with this lens.
It’s an 18 to 135mm which is a really flexible lens for photographing a room.
It allows you to take wide shots by zooming out and close shots by zooming in.
And all the extra paint?
I think it helps it fit in with all the super models.
PS I’d love to hear your room photography tips, too. It takes a village to write a really good photography post.