How to Photograph Interior Spaces like a Pro Using Just Your Phone
STEP 1 – Clean Your Space
Everything looks better when the area is dusted, fluffed, straightened, smoothed, vacuumed, uncluttered.
STEP 2 – Accessorize
Just like when you’re getting ready to go out to an event and add the right belt, shoes, watch, or necklace to finish the look of your suit or dress, styling elements in your decor can finish the look of the larger furniture pieces in your space, like the sofa, dining table, and/or bed. This could include throw pillows in a coordinating color on a sofa, beautiful sheets, or a centerpiece on a dining table.
Keep It Balanced
Like wine with dinner, the right pairings make or break the meal. Where possible, pair your new big furniture with coordinated, complementing items you have available. For example, sofas look nice with coffee tables, end tables, lamps, area rugs, wall art, table art and coffee table books.
Dining tables look nice with chairs, a centerpiece, and art on the wall. Beds look good with voluminous bedding like a goose down duvet with an elegantly simple cover, 4-6 pillows of varying sizes, nightstands, lamps.
Infuse with Life
Perhaps nothing brings an area to life more simply than a living plant. Alternatively, cut flowers. A few, well-paired statement pieces look nicer in pictures than a bunch of small tchotchkes.
Things to Avoid
Busy bedding like quilts or knitted throws that are outdated in 2021 • worn out accessories like old flat throw pillows • plastic plants • dishes on the table like you’d see in some catalogue.
Of course, if you are a gifted interior designer, you will know where and how to break this rule to great effect so take this suggestion with a grain of salt. Trust your instincts about what looks great.
Set the Stage to best show the fantastic design choices you’ve made.
STEP 3 – Set the Mood
Lighting is everything to a camera. Daylight is everything for free. If you don’t own professional photo/video lighting equipment (and why would you?), one way of getting free professional lighting is to engage the sun. Think about the best time of day where the most daylight comes in through a window and makes your new furniture pop.
PRO TIP: If you have a white towel or sheet lying around, and a friend to help you or a timer on your camera, someone can hold the sheet/towel up in a way that bounces the light coming through a window back onto your furniture. Try it. It can be amazing and it’s totally free.
Things to Avoid
If possible, do not turn on lamps or other electric lighting, especially if you don’t have cool white lightbulb/LEDs installed. Cameras can’t cleanly blend daylight and artificial light yet. The result will make daylight too blue and turn lamp light an ugly, harsh orange.
STEP 4 – Set Yourself
This means to shoot from a low angle.
If you’ve ever looked at professional photos on interior design websites, you’ll notice that the camera isn’t shooting from eye level. Here are some guidelines for how to shoot low:
- Shoot from 3-4 feet above the floor.
- Living rooms
- Shoot from 3-4 feet above the floor.
- Dining rooms
- Shoot at 4 feet above the floor.
- Shoot 6-12 inches above the highest countertop/surface.
STEP 5 – Focus On Moments
Photographing rooms is different from taking a selfie. Composition is key. Filling two-thirds of the frame with a perfectly composed corner is far better than trying to show the entire room. Cameras have to really distort space to show whole rooms. Leaving a lot to your viewers imagination is ok … in fact, it’s better/smarter.
Feeling extra ambitious?
Try different furniture arrangements, & different accessories. You may just find that you’ve created a masterpiece or new design for your home in the process.
STEP 6 – Set Your Phone
Set your frame – For the most recent iPhones, 4:3 or 16:9 horizontal (also referred to as “landscape”) is the way to go. For non-iPhones, if 4:3 or 16:9 isn’t available, shoot in horizontal (with your phone on its side) mode and choose the option that fills your screen the most.
Set your lens – If you have options, choose the most-telephoto/least-wide-angle lens. For iPhone Pro models 11 and later, this means the 2x lens. If you can’t see your new furniture well, back up. If that still isn’t enough, try the 1x lens zoomed in as far as you can.
PRO TIP: Never use any phone’s ultra wide-angle lens to shoot indoors, for example, the iPhone’s new 0.5x lens. These lenses are created for epic outdoor shots of mountain ranges and other distant landscapes/cityscapes, but they massively distort interior architecture like a funhouse mirror.
Set your exposure – For most cell phone cameras, simply tapping the screen will change the exposure. Tap different areas on the screen (light, medium, & dark) to see which gives your photo its best look.
STEP 7 -Set your angle
This literally means to hold your phone perpendicular to the ground … as if you were trying to stand the phone on its skinny edge. Furniture photographs differently from faces. Many people today hold their phones up high and shoot down at their face when taking a selfie because that is a flattering angle. Your furniture’s most flattering angle is “straight on” and 6-18” above its main flat surface (the sofa’s seat, the table’s top, the bed’s sleeping surface). Try different heights above the main surface before venturing into off-angle images.
STEP 8 – Snap Away
Like with selfies, taking several images will give you options for choosing your favorite. The more the merrier is a good motto to follow. Remember: keep your phone’s surface perpendicular to the ground … at least at first.
STEP 9 – Skip The Filter
If you are active on social media, you may be very familiar with the filters available on some platforms. Most are designed to make people think they look better; they aren’t about showing off how amazing things look naturally.
STEP 10 – Share the Best of the Best
Some people love every photo they take and that must be wonderful. Most people only need to see any special moment once though so keep your audience wanting more by showing them only the best of your best images.
Clean the area around the furniture, even windows, if necessary.
Arranging the furniture in an uncomplicated & natural way with complementary and coordinated styling pieces makes good sense.
Illuminate with plenty of lighting, especially sunlight. Your camera will thank you.
4. GET LOW
5. GET CLOSE
6. SET THE RIGHT EXPOSURE
Not too dark, not too bright.
7. GET LEVEL
Level your phone. Hold it perpendicular to the ground.
8. TAKE SEVERAL PICTURES
Shoot from differing positions, re-leveling the phone each time.
9. DON’T APPLY FILTERS
10. SHARE ONLY THE BEST
You Can Do It