Here are some helpful tips for all you readers out there who love to share your own spaces but aren't professional photographers. Taking digital shots of your home will be less intimidating just by following a few simple suggestions.
• Lighting is so important to the quality of an image. For interiors, it is usually best to shoot in daylight and avoid flash — which can sometimes lend a blown-out and artificial appearance to a scene. It's nice to turn on lights in a room just for a little point of brightness. If you do use a flash, be sure not to reflect the light off of glass or mirrors, because you'll get a bright streak in the image that you won't like.
• If you are able to, position yourself so the primary light source is behind you. This will offer the most balanced lighting and will prevent the shots of windows that are blown out and "hot" in an otherwise dark room.
• Sometimes we want to focus on a lighting feature, such as a chandelier or a candle. In these cases, bright natural light won't provide the biggest visual impact for the scene. Dusk allows daylight to give some sense of detail in a photo, but the light will be low enough to contrast with that coming from your own lighting feature, making it pop.
• Dusk is also a better time to photograph windows — low natural light will allow you to take pictures that aren't blown out by midday sunlight.
• You're not just taking a picture of a thing here, you're capturing a scene. When you look through the lens, don't see just what's in the middle of the frame. Pay attention to all the borders of a composition. Don't cut anything off at awkward angles, and try to make your photos straight and level.
• This doesn't mean you should take elevation-style pictures of everything. Definitely experiment with angles. Get up on a chair or down on your knees to find the most dynamic shot. For interiors especially, you will find that getting on your knees often offers the best angle. If you are photographing a tight area, use a wide angle lens to capture more space. Vary your angles and take some time to do close-up details as well. In a set, if all the images are made the same distance away from the camera and directly at eye level, it'll become boring to click through very quickly. Fill your lens only with things that you think are attractive. If you're getting a lot of tangled computer wires or other eyesores in your frame, move your camera until you don't see them anymore.
A home looks like a home not when it's perfectly clean and all the dishes are put away, but when there's a sense of vitality about the place. It's okay, you can leave your bedsheets rumpled and food on the table. We are not suggesting showing clutter here, just attractive signs of life. Sometimes things look different through the lens of a camera than they do in real life. Maybe you're crazy about the functionality of your countertop appliances, but for your kitchen's glamour shot perhaps you want to show off more of that marble slab and hide the blender away. Go ahead, put flowers in your vases. Move paintings around on the wall. Experiment by filling your space with the things you like in a way that seems effortless and natural.
Take too many photos. You never know which ones are going to look great on your computer screen. Sometimes shots that seem unimpressive during a shoot turn out beautifully. Photoshop can help us make images even better by adjusting color temperature, contrast, brightness, and a million other things. If your horizon line is a little bit crooked, rotate the image. If there is superfluous information in a photo that isn't adding to its quality, crop it out. A tight composition can sometimes get the point across better.
These are the things that I do when photographing interiors. I hope that they are helpful in exploring your own homes through the lens of a camera. If you have additional tips that work for you, please feel free to share!
Image: Annie Werbler from House Call: Annie & Kristina's Brooklyn Treehouse