Whether you have a fancy DSLR, your grandfather's 50-year-old film camera, a point-and-shoot, or just your phone (and let's be honest, the camera quality on smartphones is pretty solid), YOU can take great photos of your home. It's all about knowing some basic photography principles so that you can show off your latest home design project with photos that do it justice.
Basic Photography Principles
The human brain is wired to admire certain patterns — these are often found in nature and are usually the reason we think something looks "good" but can't explain why. We're hardwired to like them! Here are three easy ones that will improve your photography in any situation.
Use the Rule of Thirds
This is the most basic principle of composition. Looking through your viewfinder or at your screen, divide it into thirds horizontally and vertically. Many cameras and phones will do this for you either automatically or by choosing a setting.
You want to set your principle subject at one of the points of intersection of these lines. Or, generally, in one of the thirds. This draws the viewer's eye to the most important part of your fame and prevents a central composition, which can create a staid feeling.
Find Great Light
Light is key! Photography is all about light — literally. "Photo" is light, "graph" is recording — so photography is the record of light.
The best lighting for any photography is...well...enough light! Make sure the space you are photographing is well-lit and that the light is clean. This means no orange/yellow/other colored tints. You want the light to be as white as possible to keep the shot clean.
Don't be afraid to move to find the right light, especially if your home décor/design project is easily mobile. Roll out the rug in a different room. Arrange the vases and paintings by a large bay window. Push the couch into direct window light. Depending on how determined you are, any setup is possible.
Once you've found that great light, the best way to use it is to sidelight or have the subject facing the window (this works particularly well for ambient, aka not direct, light). Backlighting is also an option, depending on your style.
These might seem intimidating, but are actually easy to spot once you've trained your eye. Triangles are the reason group photos and paintings by the old masters (Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix comes to mind) work so well.
To create "triangles" in your composition, you will usually need groups of three that draw lines to each other, guiding the viewer's eye in an orderly manner.
For example, it might be some beautiful drapes, pulled back to either side of your window. The viewer's eye will follow the lines of the drapes down towards the floor, and their gaze can be met with, perhaps, two sitting chairs on either side.
Aperture Priority Mode
On most cameras, aperture priority shows up as "A" or "TA," and the equivalent would be something like "Portrait Mode" on the iPhone.
Aperture is one of the ways you can control the amount of light coming into your camera — and it's also responsible for the "blurry background" effect. (We call this bokeh, pronounced bow-kuh.)
The lower your aperture (generally 5.6 and lower), the blurrier your background will be. This is great if you want to isolate your subject and make it pop.
Use Custom White Balance
If you're wondering why some photos feel "cold" or too "warm" or yellow, it's a white balance problem. You can adjust this with basic phone apps — just look for the warmth/cool option. It might even be in your phone's camera function, so no need to download something extra.
Choose the Proper ISO
Especially important if you are on a digital camera, the ISO is how light-sensitive your sensor is. Generally, 400 is a great and versatile place to be. Any higher means your images will be fairly grainy, and any lower means you might not have enough light to shoot indoors.
Set the Stage
This might sound obvious, but declutter your space and make sure it's CLEAN! Many people wonder why their photos don't have similar results to those in magazines or professional artists. Spoiler: Your environment plays a huge role in the aesthetic of your photograph.
If your space is cluttered, it will show up on camera. If it's dark, the lack of light will be apparent. Make sure that the area around your completed design project is tidy and arranged as you like. Pull up the shades, pull back the drapes, open the shutters — let as much light come into the space as possible.
Finally, dress the space for the part! Create the ambience and tell the story. Are you photographing your new drapes? Maybe you want to draw them back a little and set a table with some tea, cookies, and flowers by the window to set the scene and create an environment the viewer can image themselves stepping into.
There you go! Tips for photographing indoors and making you home look great. Share your creations with us by tagging us on social media!
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