How to Photograph Interiors

July 13, 2016 Uncategorized

Recently I had the pleasure of working with Chelsea and Pamela of Wendy Black Rogers Interiors on a few projects they needed photographs of. They needed multiple images of a commercial space in the Arcadia area of Phoenix, Arizona, and they also needed a number of images for a contemporary loft in Scottsdale. This was a fun project for me and I was really pleased with the outcome of the shoot.  In this post, I’m going to cover how to photograph interiors and how I tackle lighting for interiors photography.

Here is a finished shot I’m going to use as the example for this post:

The client already had an idea of what composition they would like to see for this shot, so after a bit of trial and error and adjusting the tripod/tilt-shift, we settled on a composition. The client wanted the projector to show some sort of work-related slides or images, so that was a key part in how I decided to light this space. I wanted to not only be able to show off the common areas and walkways of the courtyard, but also convey the feeling of the projector flooding the room with light. I wanted the light to appear to be directional and coming from the projector.

First I wanted to tackle the window view and give myself something to work with later in post. Here’s what I mean:

Im using a shoot through umbrella to light up the interior window frame while still keeping the nice exterior view in tact. I was also able to capture someone walking in the courtyard, which I used later on to show movement and bring life to the empty courtyard. capturing this person walking was totally by accident, but it works, and it works great. Also notice the light coming from the umbrella and how it lands on the chairs to the left of it. Since the light actually is coming from the same direction as the screen, it appears completely natural, and I will definitely use that later on in post.

Here are a few more of me capturing the window views and window frames:

Caught another person in my spider web for post production - AWESOME! Caught another person in my spider web for post production – AWESOME!

After capturing multiple frames to give myself enough to work with and preserve the window views, I wanted to light the chairs, plants, the piece of furniture in the back, ceiling etc. I used a speedlight with a shoot through umbrella attached to put some soft fill light onto those key pieces to bring out detail and again create a directional feel to the light. Not only is the light supposed to come from the projector, but light should also be coming from the windows, and we know this instinctively when we look at the photo.

This is a shot of me illuminating the chairs on the other side of the table. I made a selection around the chairs and used layer masks to reveal only the light on the chairs.  This is a shot of me illuminating the chairs on the other side of the table. I made a selection around the chairs and used layer masks to reveal only the light on the chairs. Again, highlighting the chairs and the table/plant behind them.  Again, highlighting the chairs and the table/plant behind them. This frame I used the shadow on the wall from the camera, and the highlight of the cupboard behind the chairs.  This frame I used the shadow on the wall from the camera, and the highlight of the cupboard behind the chairs.

After putting all of the individual pieces somewhat together, I brush in a little ambient lighting from an all natural lighting frame to give it a more realistic look. I also clone out any cords, light switches, sensor dust etc. anything that takes away from the design and doesn’t need to be featured. Here’s an ambient only frame:

I believe I used this frame for some of the ceiling and also the reflections/glare on the floor. After color corrections, cloning, correcting vertical lines etc, the image is finished and ready to deliver:

Can you see each piece from before in the final image now? I hope this short tutorial has given you a deeper insight into how I light interiors and combine multiple images to create one final image (composite). Many people don’t realize how much work is involved in creating a single image, whether you’re compositing or building the lighting on location.