Saturday 23 July 2016

6 Tips To Improve Your Interior Design Photography Skills!

'A picture is worth a thousand words'
Taking perfect photographs is every bloggers dream. For those of us, whose blogs are made up mostly of beautiful pictures, our camera is our BFF. It can also be our nemesis, when the photos are blurry, the focus and exposure is wrong and the settings are all skewed. Behind the scenes, I'm usually huffing and puffing and stressed out getting the camera to do what I want it to do when I'm trying to photograph rooms, furniture makeovers or DIY projects in my home. 
So to get a few handy pointers I got in touch with an upcoming photographer Timothy James Naismith. I first met Tim when he photographed my home for Houzz Australia. I went onto his website and was captivated by the gorgeous back and white wildlife photographs, portraits and urban captures. 

Tim started photography back in 2008 when he was gifted an old digital point and shoot camera. Since then he has set up a freelance business with a website displaying his photos from across the globe. He's worked with numerous studio, travel and animal photography events in Dubai, UAE and Melbourne, Australia. And when I worked with him, he made photography seem easy and fluid and fun! 

So here are six amazing tips to improve your interior design photography skills by the talented Tim Naismith. 

This is numero uno on the list. 

If you don’t know how to use your DSLR or point and shoot camera or even a camera phone, then you might as well throw it out the window. Some of the greatest photos in the modern day are taken using your basic camera phone. Just look at the amazing work of Julian Calverley with his exhibition only featuring photos taken on his iPhone.

In order to make the most out of your camera device, there are a few vital points that you need to know before getting into any other detail:

A. Where is the focus point?
This one’s a bit basic, but I have seen so many people forget where the focus point is and only realise that the photo is out of focus when they are editing on their computer. As such, you need to know how your camera focuses and where you need to point it to get the right depth.

B. How does your camera react to different lighting?
With different rooms, comes different lighting situations. You can’t always use the same settings for all your scenes that you want to capture. As such, you should understand how your camera adapts to different lighting conditions. Basic cameras do this automatically, but a DSLR or similar allows you to change the settings manually. On a DSLR, you should be able to adjust your white balance. This essentially alters the tone of the image and adjusts the sensor to understand the current lighting conditions.

C. At what scale do you get the best quality?
Every camera has their own sweet spot for quality. This mainly relates to those with zoom capabilities. For something like an iPhone, that sweet spot is wide angle. However, for a basic DSLR with a 18‐55mm lens, the sweet spot is at around 24‐ 35mm zoom. This does vary from lens to lens so best to play around and see where your camera’s sweet spot is.

Second to the above, a crucial lesson to learn in photography is composition. It can mean the difference from a happy snap to a masterpiece to hang at a gallery. To simplify this skill, we photographers follow three key points:

A. Lead in lines
In order to attract a viewer to your photo, they need something to follow. No one likes looking at a mess (unless that is what you are going for). Lead in lines use natural edges to bring focus to a centre point. This simple addition in a photo will guide the viewer through your photo.

B. Setting the space
Have a think about what you want to show in your photo. Once that image is clear, organise the room accordingly. This simple exercise can simplify your setting to become clearer and easier for the viewer to appreciate. This can be further achieved by placing one or two feature elements that attract the eye to the scene (such as a laptop, feature tiling, contrasting furniture etc.).

C. Cropping
You don’t need to capture everything. You can tell a more powerful story by showing less. It allows the viewer to imagine the remainder and be more engaged with the photo. If you tell everything people will see it but the soon leave from boredom.

Similar to my earlier point in knowing your camera, understanding the lighting of your subject is vital. Playing around with lighting can make a photo look dramatic and dark or bright and pure.

It is a priority to maximise the amount of natural light as possible. If the room is still dark or the lighting is too harsh, you can adjust lighting using external flash devices, opening blinds or turning on lights. You can also try bringing in portable lamps or torches to get real creative. Make sure you light the subject softly with indirect light.

In the current state of interior design photos, its preferred to have soft lighting touches rather than harsh contrasting shadows. To avoid this, photographers “bounce” the external light from the source against walls before the light reaches the subject. This allows the light to disperse and provide a much softer setting. 

What’s the point of taking a photo when it’s too blurry to distinguish the floor from the ceiling? Obviously that’s exaggerated but the point still stands. In order to tell a story that people can understand, it needs to be clear.

My suggestion is investing in a simple tripod. This doesn’t need to be a major investment, you can buy cheap $20 tripods online or in tech stores like JB Hi‐Fi and Harvey Norman.

This one addition to your equipment list will allow you to set up the camera in a fixed position and avoid any shaking when in a handheld position.

As a little side note, combine this with setting a self‐timer and you avoid even the slightest movement from pushing the shutter button. The timer will allow the camera to rest and just focus on taking a quality image.

This one is getting more specific to the advanced cameras such as DSLR cameras from Sony, Nikon, Canon or other major brands. If you’re shooting a close up image of a table setup or flower arrangement in a vase, it is important to understand how to use your aperture setting.

Simply put, the aperture controls the size of the hole that allows light to your camera’s sensor.

This tool also controls the camera’s depth of field. If you’re shooting a close up subject and want the background blurred, you want to set your aperture number to the smallest setting possible. Conversely, if you are shooting a room with multiple subects at different distances from the camera, you will want to set the aperture number to a larger setting (I recommend F/11 as a standard).

The majority of cameras these days come with the function of shooting photos in RAW format. This format differs from JPEGs as they enable a greater level of photographic data to be stored.

The JPEG format removes a significant amount of photo information to save on space so you can take more photos.

If one was to draw from film photography, a RAW file is similar to that of an unprocessed negative. It is ultimately the raw data from light hitting your camera’s sensor.

The biggest benefit of shooting in RAW is that you have the most control over the final image. RAW files allow you to recover seemingly over‐exposed or underexposed images, adjust white balance and determining the final size of your photo for publishing.

Enjoy and experiment!

Tim's six savvy tips are quite handy and inspiring to keep in mind when photographing interiors. I'm always looking to hone my photography skills as I know many of you are as well and sometimes just getting a little advice from a professional can make all the difference. 

I hope this guest post makes you want to pick up your camera & experiment! If it does, be sure to tag @raniengineer and @tnaisworthie on Instagram. We'd love to see a photo inspired by this post!

You can view more of Tim's photography on his website and purchase any of his prints in custom sizes by contacting him here. You can see more of his work on Facebook and Instagram.

Till next time...
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