Interior Photography: How to Best Capture a Space | Alex Staniloff | Skillshare

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Interior Photography: How to Best Capture a Space

teacher avatar Alex Staniloff, Interior Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project Overview


    • 3.



    • 4.

      A Word About Gear


    • 5.

      Gearing Up


    • 6.

      Taking in the Space


    • 7.

      Framing Your Shot


    • 8.

      Setting Your Camera


    • 9.

      Shooting to the Right


    • 10.

      Using a Bounce Flash


    • 11.

      White Balance


    • 12.

      Details and Vignettes


    • 13.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

In this class we’ll go over all the basic skills you’ll need to best photograph interiors.

We’ll talk about what equipment I use and what kind of gear you’ll need for the job. We’ll go into a new space and discuss how you approach a home for the first time, and what to look for before you even pick up your camera. After that, we’ll talk about how to best set up your shot and how to use natural and artificial light to your advantage.

This course will not discuss any processing or file handling, as we’ll primarily focus on getting the best shot in-camera so we’ll talk about shooting to the right and using your histogram on your camera to make sure your shots look good, even when they’re not on your camera.


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alex Staniloff

Interior Photographer


Alex Staniloff is a New York-based photographer specializing in interiors and architecture. He has worked for countless interior designers, architects and realtors to help capture their spaces in the best light. Having shot nearly 10,000 spaces, Alex's work has ranged from hotels, restaurants, doctor's offices, condominiums and even a bowling alley.

His work has been used and featured in publications around the world as well as in campaigns for Starwood Hotels, Airbnb and Seamless. Though he loves living in New York, he misses shooting the craftsman and tudor-style houses of his hometown, Los Angeles.

Alex loves working with natural light, especially the occasional skylight. On a job for Alex, there's nothing better than white walls and a sunny day. Ale... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi. My name is Alex Daniel off, and I'm a commercial photographer based in New York, and I specialized in shooting interiors in architecture. I've shot thousands of spaces for realtors and interior designers, architects and hospitality group's Ashot spaces all around the world, from geodesic domes in Joshua Tree, two cottages and bruised, and even a bowling alley in Staten Island. Shooting interiors is a great skill to have. If you have a client who's a realtor or an interior designer, or if you're trying to rent or sell your own home in this course will go over what kind of equipment you will need to shoot. Interiors will talk about going through a space for the first time and assessing it properly without even picking up your camera. We'll talk about camera settings and how to set up your camera correctly to shoot interiors , and we'll talk about mixing natural and artificial light together on blending the two seamlessly. This course will not go over any sort of editing or post processing for the photos were here just to focus on getting the best shot in camera 2. Project Overview: much like you. A lot of my training came from watching video tutorials just like this one. However, all of that pales in comparison to the experience that I got shooting out in the fields. I believe the best way to really make these skills stick is to practise shooting interiors as much as you can for your class project. I want you to shoot your own home, but do it in only four shots. I think that these shoots are much like a narrative that you're telling about your home and the more concise of narrative you have, the stronger it will be. I also wanted to focus on your hero shot, which will be the first shot in your set. Not only is your hero shot your best shot, but it's the one that best represents your entire photo set. Lastly, for a bonus challenge, let's see if you can shoot your home and tell that story and only three shots 3. Prerequisites: before starting this course, you should have a basic understanding of how your camera works. You should know how I s o aperture and shutter speed all relate to one another. We'll be shooting most everything in this course, an aperture priority mode. But you're welcome to shoot in manual mode if you wants. I used to shoot, I mean, well known myself. But I found that for interiors and shooting in aperture priority mode, I just get to where I need to be a little more quickly than when I shoot in manual mode. You'll also need to have a really good understanding of how white balance works because we'll be using artificial and natural light, and we'll be talking about how each of those will be affecting our camera settings. 4. A Word About Gear: If it's on your fees, your craft, then your gear are your tools, but it's very important toe. Hone your craft and master your eye for shooting interiors before you get too bogged down in your equipment. Now that being said, I do have this Canon five D Mark three. But when I first started shooting interiors, I shot with a Canon rebel that I got on Craigslist. He used for $200 I'm so glad I did, because I wasn't too overwhelmed with all the different advanced camera settings. And as I upgraded my kit, I was able to use these tools to fill in these technical gaps that I knew that I would need over the years as I shot more and got more experienced, that being said, Let's talk about the equipment you'll need to shoot interiors. 5. Gearing Up: in order to ST Interiors, there are three vital pieces of equipment that you'll need in your kids. One is a DSLR body. Second is a wide angle lens, and the third is a tripod. You should also have speed light in your kid as well. It's not 100% necessary, but it will help get you out of certain situations, so your tripod should extends with least six feets. It should be sturdy and able to hold the weight of your camera and lens, and whenever else you put on it, you can get a tripod for under around $100 it should be fine. You should also consider getting a ball head for your tripod so that you can rotate your camera without having to move the tripod each time. Now I have a Canon five D Mark three, which is a full frame sensor body. You don't need to have something like this issued interiors, but it is important for you to know what kind of body you have. In order to get the rate lens, you're going to need a wide angle lens in my lens. Is it 16 to 35 millimeters you can get something that's more like 17 to 40 or even up to 20 but I recommend you stay around the 20 millimeter or wider focal Wayne. If you're shooting on a crop sensor camera, this kind of lens won't be is wide on your camera because the sensor is actually smaller and so your focal length is zoomed in by about 1.6 times. So if you're shooting on a crop sensor camera, you'll need to have ah, lens that's more like 10 or 12 millimeters wide. Having a speed light is really helpful. Toe having your equipment. What we'll be doing with speed light is bouncing light off the ceiling toe. Add in light in darker shadows areas. It's really helpful to have this to get you of a lot of different situations. It's also helpful toe have this little diffuser on top to soften the lights. Lastly, I think it's really helpful toe have wireless remote triggers like these young you will wireless remote Trigger said. I have I got on Amazon for maybe $25 will be using these to trigger our flash remotely off of the camera, and we'll need to do that Teoh Ward away from any unwanted reflections or harsh shadows that air speed lights might be creating 6. Taking in the Space: Now that we're in our space, let's go around and assess what we have and look for maybe some English to shoot before we even paid up our camera. Let's not worry too much about clutter, because all that might not even be in the shot. Once we frame with our lens, we're gonna want to shoot towards Windows if we can, to really exemplify the natural light that the department has. After all, nobody wants to live in a closet. We should also be looking for some great design flares or anything kind of interesting. That really brings out the essence of an apartment being a cool staircase, interesting wallpaper, anything of that sort. We really should be asking ourselves, Why would somebody want to be in this space? Or really, what can we best capture to make someone wants me in this space? It's also very important to pay attention to the layout of an apartment and to try and capture that in a single photo. It's great to shoot a living room, but it's even better if we can shoot it in a way that shows how it connects to the kitchen or the dining room. Lastly, It's always best to shoot on a sunny day, of course, but sometimes you may not be so lucky. On a day like today, there's a lot of overcast and a lot of rain, but that's not a sisterly than of the world, because when there's overcast, the clouds can act like a giant soft box for the sun and really soft and light to bring into the room. And just because the room might look a little dark will have the luxury of dragging our shutter long enough to make any room looked bright, no matter how dark it ISS. 7. Framing Your Shot: Now that we've had a chance to walk through an assessor space, let's frame our shop. You'll probably want to be shooting from a porn er on a wide angle lens. If you shoot straight on, you may get a tunneling kind of effect with aligning the lens, so shooting from a corner is great. For that reason and also to show more space. I like shooting at around 20 millimeters. I find that if you shoot all the way, zoom doubts at like 16 millimeters that the walls tend to curve a little bit and you get a lot of distortion and the space looks huge and we want a place to look big. We don't want it to be too unrealistic and be deceiving to what people expect the space to look like. We want a little the camera straight and parallel to the ground so that the walls don't start to converge and bend in. There are exceptions. Were you meaning to tilt the camera up or down to get a really cool loft or to shoot a view from patio, the more often than not you want to have the camera parallel to the ground when you're setting up your frame. It's a really great idea to have your camera on hand so you can look through the lens to really get an idea of how you should frame your shot. You want to make sure that you don't have too much ceiling in the shot, but you Wonder camera to be low enough where you get a good amount of floor so you can see the spatial distance relationships between furniture and walls. Now you don't want any furniture to be blocking your shop, but it's a good idea to have a little bit of furniture in the foreground of your frame so you can set up some nice depths between the foreground, middle ground and background. And now that we have the shot set up and we know exactly what's going to be in the frame now, we can go ahead and move the clutter, because when we first walked in, a lot of the closer that we saw really stuck out. But now that we have the shot set up, we know that some of the clutter is actually gonna be blocked by furniture or other objects in the frame and will save us a lot of time, but only removing the clutter that we actually need to remove 8. Setting Your Camera: we framed are shot and we've put the camera on the tripod. We're just about ready, but let's talk about some camera settings before we take the actual photo. Firstly, I would like to have my camera set on aperture Priority move. And here's why, or shooting interiors. We want everything in the room to be in focus. In order to do that, we have to have a smaller aperture something between FAA and death. 11. I like to shoot at F 10 now. We're not shooting event photography or not shooting sports. We are shooting interiors, and luckily we have the most obedient and disciplined subject matters. Chairs don't blink. Couches don't move. We can have our shudder be as long as it needs to be knowing that we're telling our cameras an aperture priority mode that we need the aperture to be out of 10. And it can have the shudder be as long as it needs to get the shot exposed. This is why, again, having a tripod is so vital we couldn't possibly shoot at a 12th or even a five second exposure hand held without getting the shots look blurry. So we've got the cameras on aperture priority mode and will have her eyes. So at 100 or 1 60 just to reduce any noise, and we don't to compensate it all for shutter speed, we'll have her white balance set to auto and we'll go over that in a little bit later. Why? And we'll have our cameras that to capture raw images. Now I know he said, that we wouldn't be discussing editing at all in this course, and that's true. But when you're shooting a space, you may not be able to ever go back into that space when she got access in there. So we want to make sure we capture as much data as possible, just in case we ever need to make any edits. 9. Shooting to the Right: unless you have your camera tethered to a computer, you're not really getting the best representation of what your photo looks like by looking at the back of your screen. That's why it's very important to look at the history Graham. After you've taken each shots, there's a phrase called Shooting to the Right, which means that you should shooting away where the values of your history Graham are weighted towards the right side with lights. And the highlights are. The reason we do something like this is because the sensors and these cameras are much better at capturing data in the highlights than in the shadows. And in the event that you do need to edit these photos and recover some of that data, it's much easier for you to do so in the highlights and the lights. Also nine times out of 10. The photo that you get on the back of your camera we'll look way brighter than does on a computer, so it's really important to overcompensate and over exposed to a stop or so just to make sure you get it looking as bright as you want. It's also very important to take multiple exposures of each shot because you never know when he may be back in a space, were able to get back in that space again. You really want to make sure that you have as many options as you can have. 10. Using a Bounce Flash: So let's talk a bit about using Bounce Flash to help illuminate our photos. Now, before we do anything, let's take a shot first with the flash off. So now we're gonna put our flash on, aim it towards the ceiling. So what we're aiming to do here is to bounce the light up to the ceiling and then have it come down and illuminate all the shadowed areas of our shots. As you can see here, between these two shots, there's a lot more detail here in the shadows that we didn't have before. And this is great, because otherwise, without this light, we would have to bring the photos into editing program and recover their shadows in the editing program, and that may result in some unwanted noise. So this is a really great thing to do to help elevate your photos a little bit. I have a problem with it, which we don't really see here, but often times you may face a room that has some kind of ceiling fan or chandelier, a recessed lights, and when he bounced the flash directly into those things, couldn't get some unwanted shadows. So one way they worn around that is to take your flash and rotate it towards the wall that's facing the ceiling. So you're gonna then bounce your flash from the camera to the wall to the ceiling and then down to get rid of the shadows. The problem, though, is that you're gonna add this extra layer of diffusion of light. So what we need to do to compensate for that is just a dial or flash up a little bit. And now we the power should natural light source that we had earlier. We balanced our light to the ceiling. Another great way to get rid of unwanted harsh shadows coming from the flash, bouncing into objects in the ceiling. Or another way to get rid of harsh reflections of the shadow. Bouncing off of refrigerators or any kind of metallic objects is to add a wireless transmitter to the flash so that we have the flash away from the camera in position. Wherever we need it to be tow, avoid their shadows and reflections. Let me show you gonna take a shot right now with the flash mounted on top, and it looks great, except for the fact that there's this terrible, reflective glare of the flash on the refrigerator. So what we'll do is we'll mounts are flash on these transmitters. Putting one on the camera and one under the flash was important to know with these transmitters because they are pretty affordable. We'll have to use manual mode in or flash to mash the e t T l automatic mode of before I like to have my flash dial to about 1/4 power, I think matches it. Also, it's worth noting that before, when the camera had the flash mounted on top of it, it was nearing knowing this extra added bit of flight was coming out of the flash. And so it meter down to compensate for that. So if you're gonna make sure you have the same lighting set up, make sure you meet her down just a little bit. So is that the same shutter speed as when we took the shot with the flash mounted on the camera? With all this set up, we're gonna take our hand and raise our flash up towards the ceiling so it's bouncing up out of the way of the fridge so won't show a reflective glare of that with its set up will take the shot and it looks great. It's the same shall we had before, minus that nasty, reflective glare. Another good reason to use a bounce flash is toe balance light in a room where one end of the room is much brighter than the other. This happens actually a lot in New York apartments, where the apartments are much longer than they are wider. And you have one part of the room with a lot of light coming from the windows and another part of the room that's much darker without as many windows. So let's use the bounce flash to see how we can balance this out, says you can see the bounce. Flash is now limiting the darker part of the room. And not only that, it's nearing the camera down a little bit because the cameras seemed the flash run there and compensating for that extra added light. And so bringing the metering down is actually bringing down the highlights and blown out areas of the windows of the brighter part of the room. So now the two parts of the room, our balance thanks to the bounce flash. But as you can also see. Sometimes you have to move some furniture, even get outside of a room to get your best shot. 11. White Balance: Now we're gonna talk about white balance. You may not be fortunate enough to be in a room or a space that has a lot of natural light . In fact, you might find yourself having to late most the room with artificial lights, which are mostly comprised of tungsten bowls, a tungsten amidst this orange kind of light that our eyes don't really notice. That much is differing from natural light, but the cameras dio the cameras seem natural. Light versus tungsten light is black and white or rather orange and blue. Now you might be wondering, Well, should I turn these lights off? What should I do about these lights? Well, the best way to figure out if you're setting really needs more of a white balance for tungsten versus daylight is to experiment between the two and see what difference is. There are so first kill ahead and switcher white. Bounce off auto to daylight and you'll see that the light is now going to be neutral for daylight but very orange for lots of tungsten lights. Switch it, then tungsten white balance setting, and you'll see that the cameras adjusting for the tongues and bulbs and so those would be more of a neutral kind of tone. But daylight will be more blue, so you can look between the two and see which looks better. And if you see that there's a lot of blue in the tongues and white balance, then maybe you should be switching to daylight. White balance or vice versa for the white balance for daylight being a little more orange, all the tungsten bulbs, so you may have to adjust it to a point where you're seen really is more of a tungsten white balance set up, and the natural light is actually just looking kind of blue and unwanted. So you may have to close the curtain are doing you can to get rid of that, and then you're see, we'll all have the same neutral light of the tungsten. But then you have to arrange your flash so it is also neutral and balance for the tungsten as well. So what you need to do it's put a gel on to modify the flashlight. You're probably wondering why you have to do that. Well, let's take a shot with tungsten weight balance on the flash set as it is you can see now This is really bad. Unwanted blue light coming because of the flash. That's because the flash is daylight balanced, so we have to Dio is modify it with a CTO Joe, which stands for color temperature orange gel. You can get a square of these for seven bucks at your local photo store. It's really cheap and easy to find. You need to attach it to your flash, said the light. Passing through the flash will be modified by the gel to match the tungsten light. Your flash may not have a little flat like mine. You can just tape it there or he's ever been whatever you need to dio get that on there and take the shot and you'll see now that the light coming out of the flash matches the white temperature of the tungsten bulbs around you, 12. Details and Vignettes: you talked a lot about shooting interiors wide. We've used lining the lenses. We've tried to get a lot in a certain shot, be more than one room even. But it's important when shooting interiors to think on a macro and micro level. That's why it's very important for us to shoot details in vignettes. It'll give us a new perspective on the home. What we shoot details in vignettes. We shouldn't just be using our wiping the lens. In fact, we should be using a much tighter lens. I like using a 24 to 70 to shoot my details, but you can use whatever you want. Just make sure it's not a wide angle lens, because we're gonna get really tight into our subject matter. And if we shoot with the line in the lens, it's gonna distort and take the viewer out of the shots. But we're shooting vignettes. We want to look for something trademark, something unique about the space that we're shooting, being a piece of furniture, a unique piece of arts, or even some kind of renovation that is new to the home. We want a book for things not just placed in the home, but something architectural, be it a stairwell or a back splash on a kitchen counter, anything that we think should really be captured on a smaller level. Now shooting videos could be a lot of fun because, unlike shooting interiors on a water level, our focus is and have to be it F 10. We could have our aperture set at F four or F two point A and have a lot of fun playing with depth of field worth lighting. There's an interesting detail here that I wanted to take a shot of, so let's see how that could look. As you can see, I played with some depth the field here, and I really got tight to showing the contestants of the apartment on a smaller level when shooting in tears. It's really important to think big and small 13. Final Thoughts: We've covered a lot today, and I'm so, so excited to have been able to teach this course in shells information with you. Looks like a lot of you. I had no idea what I was doing in regards interior photography for five years ago, and I watched a video just like this one, and it really helped me out. But the one thing that helped me above everything else was shooting going out there practicing these skills as much as I could. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is. Just go and shoot. It's much as you can. It's the best way to learn anything, and I know it might be a little scary. You might think you'll make mistakes, but it's totally okay to make a mistake. Every mistake you make is just a lesson on how to do things right. In fact, one of the first days out of a job. I totally screwed up a shoot for a really huge client, but I knew what I did wrong and I went back in there and I shot it and I haven't looked back and it's so important that you go out there and you keep shooting matter. What's no? Maybe daunting. I know we've covered a lot of a lot of information, but I promise you one teachers, put your hands in your camera strap on that wide angle lens. You're gonna start shooting and you're gonna get the crews of it. It's gonna feel great. I promise you. It's been a real pleasure to teach this force, and I can't wait to see all your project.