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6 components of a great property photograph [infographic]
Shooting great property photographs is an art. To nail it, there are several things you should experiment with, from lighting to focus and equipment to creativity.
Of course, knowing your camera's functions inside out is the foundation for any great photography - property or otherwise. But when you're focusing on an interiors shot, what you need to know and do gets a little more specific. These are the 6 components that make up the very best interior photograph.
Click on the image below to view an enlarged version of this infographic.
1. The right photography kit
Property photography relies on a wide angle lens, especially when you're working with limited space. To get the best perspective from a corner, use a 16mm to 24mm lens; and for close-ups, a standard lens will do the job. And for properties with large or connecting rooms, a flash can help balance the light.
As a property photographer, one of the things you can't do without is a tripod. A quality one with a spirit level is worth the investment (as anyone who's accidentally taken a slightly wonky photograph will tell you). A remote shutter will also help tackle the problem of shakiness, if you need to set a long shutter speed.
Lots of property photographers opt for a grey card to help achieve an optimal white balance, which can help reduce the post-production process.
2. Tailored aperture and shutter speed
Generally, you'll be shooting rooms in their entirety, so a large depth of field with a smaller aperture (bigger f-stop) will be required. But perhaps a small detail, like a bathroom tap, is an interesting part of the room. In that case, a bigger aperture will give you the shallower depth of field you'll need to show it off.
Once you've got your aperture setting sorted, make full use of your tripod and leave the shutter speed on as long as necessary to get the right exposure. Using an f-stop of f11 on a full frame, and f9 on a cropped frame, will ensure the whole room is in focus. Try to avoid increasing your ISO too much- it'll help you avoid noise in darker properties.
3. Perfect lighting
Property photography lends itself to soft, natural lighting, so early morning and late afternoon are ideal times to shoot.
Sometimes, there may be limited natural light and you'll need to make a judgement call. The thing to do here is experiment with all the lightstreams available: whether this is natural light, overhead bulbs, lamps or a combination. Try different concepts and take your pick.
Using an off-camera flash is also is also a great way to illuminate darker areas. Bear in mind that direct flash can often cause shadows, and can be seen on reflective surfaces. The smaller ones, like kettles and toasters, can often go unnoticed. You'll need to be fastidious before you shoot to ensure that where you've placed the flash is a help, and not a hindrance, to the photograph. If you're using a flash, make sure it's nowhere near a reflective surface.
4. Thoughtful angles
The objective of a property photograph is to show off the space available in any given room. Positioning yourself in the corner of a room and shooting across at an approx. 45 degree angle will allow you to capture as much of the room as possible.
There are also occasions where the room is an unusual shape, or displays interesting features, as you can see in our introduction to great property photography. Focusing on detail can intrigue the viewer, and entice them to book a viewing. That could be the way to make your client's property (and your photography) stand out.
5. Comfortable staging
Every one of your clients will have their own preferences, but there’s no reason not to take the initiative yourself to get a more appealing set of photographs. With limited time to complete a job, you might not be able to spend a lot of time rearranging furniture and adding props; but make sure you notice which cushions to plump and which chairs to straighten.
We've got a staging guide for homeowners, which you can see here. Well-styled photographs are proven to get a higher click through rate on estate agent websites, which means they convert to more viewings and a likelihood for sale. When arranging the job with your client, suggest they take a look at this staging guide to ensure you're able to take the very best photographs to market their property.
6. Clean post-production
Using photo editing software to digitally enhance your photos isn’t cheating. A lot of the time, it can improve property photography taken in challenging conditions or colours that didn’t turn out quite as they look in real life.
It’s up to you and your client how much post-production you do, but a couple of things are always worth your attention. Removing shadows, correcting lighting and adjusting contrast levels will always give your photography extra sparkle and help to give a truer representation of the interior of a property. If you can see sky outside a window and it's not particularly summery, we'd also advocate brightening it up to show the property off to its best potential.
These are our tips for taking the best interior photographs, but always keep in mind that you should adapt to your surroundings and experiment to get the best shot. The bottom line is: practice, practice, practice.
Photo credit: Peter Hilton