8 Tips for Taking Better Photos of Your Home

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Credit: Erin Derby

House tours and house calls — where we get to see inside real homes — are the heart of Apartment Therapy. We’re honored when you choose to share your personal space with us (and readers!). It’s not only inspiring, but plenty of smart lessons on storage, organizing, and small-space decorating can be found within these real homes.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

First, the difference between a house call and house tour: They’re both glimpses into inspiring real homes. House tours are a bit of a longer peek if we’re able to send our own AT photographer to capture the home, or if the homeowner has a lot of photos. House calls are a shorter look, usually using images that the homeowner submits. The good news is that you DO NOT have to be a professional photographer to submit your home to us. But if you’d like some tips for capturing your home’s style in its best light for consideration, read on.

Credit: Andrew Bui

1. Take “straight” shots (and skip the wide angle and fish eye lens).

Try to keep your camera or smart phone straight up and down (parallel to the walls) when you snag your shots. Take an extra moment or two to make sure that the vertical and horizontal lines in your room are straight before you hit the shutter button. Capture a few different snaps of the same angle so you can choose the straightest option. We suggest using a tripod to take the straightest photos. You’ll have results that aren’t blurry in the slightest, and using a tripod will help you line up straight shots when you’re capturing the architecture of a room. Also: avoiding “fish eye” lens and super wide angles is also recommended, as they distort the way a room looks.

Credit: Erin Derby

2. Use natural light when available.

Your shots will look cleaner and your white balance (when the white surfaces in your photo look white and not yellow or blue) will be easier to get right. Shadows won’t look funky. Try to photograph during the early morning hours or the late afternoon, or whenever the light is best in your home. Throw open blinds, curtains, and even doors to get as much natural light inside. But do avoid “pools” or “rays” of sunlight in a room, which can create harsh contrasts between the things that are lit and the things that are in shadow.

3. Use one type of lighting per photo.

Don’t mix different temperature and lighting types in one photo. (I personally prefer table lamps and light fixtures off or dimmed low). You’ll find your photos are much more natural looking. If the room just feels too dark without turning lights on and you are using a DSLR camera to capture your space, use your tripod and leave your shutter open longer to get the shot.

4. Clean your lens.

Use a microfiber rag to gently wipe away any smudges or dirt.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

5. Take “whole room” shots.

Readers don’t just want to see close-ups of design details; they want to understand how a room is arranged and how the design looks as a whole. It’s fine to include a close-up of a design detail or two in your submissions, but please try to capture your main rooms in their entirety so we can understand your whole space. Supplement whole-room photos with more detailed vignette shots of elements that are worthy of a close-up or have a great story.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

6. Don’t submit watermarks or Instagram screenshots, please.

Please only submit clean images, in other words, no images with watermarks or other overlays. And no screenshots of images from your Instagram.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

7. Hide clutter, wires, and close your toilet lids!

You don’t have to style your homes like a magazine shoot, but try to avoid shooting images of clutter, which can distract from your home’s gorgeous decor. Clutter hotspots often include the dining room table and the kitchen counters, the coffee table and sofa, and the entryway. Even if you’re just moving clutter like laptops, shoes, and other daily objects out of the way for the shot, you can improve the photos of your home. Other things to avoid in photographs of your home are the TV (especially TV screens that are on), computer screens that are on, or images that contain personal information, like mail with your address on it. You might consider stuffing wires out of the way if you spot them. Angle yourself away from mirrors and reflective surfaces. Straighten pillows and picture frames. Make your bed. And put those toilet seats DOWN.

8. Images of pets are encouraged, but avoid photos of yourself or other people.

We love seeing furry friends in photos, but photos of people (even if it’s just someone’s hand or foot) are a no-no. (Keep it about the decor!). Try not to submit photos that are closeups of personal photographs, and try not to include photos that feature images of celebrities or other copyrighted material.

Submit your home today!

Use our house tour and house call submission form.

P.S. Doing these things will help you create great photos of your home. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee your home definitely will be published on Apartment Therapy because we receive many submissions each day. While we appreciate receiving all of them and love looking through them, we unfortunately can’t publish every submission to the site.

Have a before and after you’d like to submit? 5 Tips for Getting Your Home Project Featured on Apartment Therapy