Eventful PR Partners & Friends Share Their Top Tips for Success
Featured Photo credit: West of Main
Interior designers appreciate the value of great photos, for a number of reasons. Aside from their obvious penchant for beautiful things, designers use photos to showcase their work and built a portfolio, attract new clients and promote their brand. Since your audience won’t have a chance to see your work in person, each picture you choose to represent your work needs to say a thousand words, at least. From conveying a vibe, to communicating your design creativity and quality of work, your photos carry a lot of weight. Here are some tips to ensure you’re getting the right shots, and sending the right message.
#1 LET THERE BE LIGHT!
Even the most gorgeous spaces can look dull and uninviting, if the lighting isn’t right. This is even more critical in your photos, so its no surprise that as a first step, most photographers will evaluate the natural light in the room. In fact, as an interior designer or decorator, this was likely one of your first moves, as well.
When prepping for photos, start by turning off all artificial interior lights. This goes against all interior styling rules, as designers spend a great deal of time creating a mood using lighting. But the benefits of the “lights out” rule are twofold. First of all, removing artificial light creates a more-consistent light temperature throughout the space, which results in better photos. Second, leaving interior lights turned on for photo shoots can result in strange shadows and dark corners, which require extensive editing to remove and can result in a higher photography bill and potentially distorted colour.
Keep in mind that “lights out” only applies to interior lighting such as your overhead lights, fixtures and lamps, not your photographer’s lighting. This specialized lighting acts as ambient lighting and mimics the natural light that we know is so crucial.
However, as is typically the case, there are some exceptions to this rule. Use interior lights during a photo shoot if you wish to highlight a specific lighting feature or area, such as recessed lighting. In these cases, your photographer should use a second exposure to soften the light.
You’ll also want to use artificial light when choosing dark spaces. Professional photographers shed some more light on the subject:
Photographer Gillian Jackson says…
“Relying on natural light alone can limit the quality and quantity of successful strong images, especially when shooting in old heritage homes located in Toronto’s densely populated neighbourhoods during the dark Canadian winters; natural light can be in short supply. As professional photographers, it is our job to know how to augment and enhance this natural light with delicate lighting using strobes are also needed to create a seamless natural look.”
Photographer Stephani Buckman says…
“As professional photographers, it is our job to know how to augment and enhance natural light. . .to create a seamless, natural look. When photographing interiors, I’ll first scout the space to see where and when and how the natural light fills the space, and then decide on the shot(s). Then, I’ll analyze whether or not the daylight from the window or the flash will be the most dynamic way to light the shot. More often than not, the natural window light is enough to light the composition with long exposure. I’ll then use the flash to lightly fill-in the shadowy areas. Using softer light best mimics the look of natural daylight. Lighting subjects from the side is often the most appealing, revealing the shape and texture–and should be considered in your shooting plan.”
Photographer Larry Arnal says…
“Shooting spaces always benefits from the addition of lighting to balance highlights and shadows, so that they appear as they do to the human eye. Some designers [liken] the lights in a space to ‘jewelry for the room.’ Your photographer should have the technical ability to create that look without affecting the colour balance in the space. Nobody likes that orange cast over everything that come with using incandescent or LED lights. Using Photoshop blending techniques is essential to neutralizing that cast and keeping your spaces true to the colour scheme that was created, even with the lights on!
Bringing in a professional who understands light and lighting is your best way to showcase a space as you, the designer, has envisioned it.”
Photographer Kim Jeffery, www.kimjeffery.com
“Photography literally means ‘painting with light’ and lighting is precisely what makes a good shot, great. Finding a balance that incorporates available desired lighting, daylight, and strobe can be very challenging. It seems many of my design clients like a super-light, bright and airy feel to their interiors. I personally appreciate seeing some shadow and a little mood, especially in a white interior. A good image always needs some darkness and shadow. Without it there is no dimension. I know I’ve reached that balance when the lighting is nearly invisible, and all you can see is a beautiful space.”
#2 LIMIT YOUR WIDE SHOTS
When it comes to design photography, resist the urge to rely on wide shots. While on location at photo shoots, we’ve often heard clients request those coveted “full-room shots.” Yes, you want to show off the space and your work, but remember that when it comes to photos, detail and quality trump quantity.
Rather than relying on one large image to capture everything about the space, let the photographer tell the story of the story using many shots that focus on the fine details.
For example, professional real estate photographers often shoot at 16mm for wide shots. For design and interior photography, I recommend sticking with 24mm.
To “Wide-Angle” or not to “Wide-Angle”?
Well, that all depends on the space. We often see real estate photographers shoot using a lens that almost seems to stretch the space visually, using 16mm for wide shots. Meanwhile for design and interior photography, many like to use around 24mm. Prior to photo day, ask your photographer whether they intend to use a wide-angle lens, but know that it really depends on the space and even then, many photographers use it sparingly.
Photographer Mike Chajecki says…
“Wide angle lenses (wide shot images) tend to distort the space, creating an illusion that it is larger. [This is] not flattering for interior design or architectural photography, as things look out of scale and proportion. We see it very often in real estate images. In some cases, it is possible to still show the whole room but photograph it from a far distance to minimize distortion by using longer lenses. Generally speaking, wide shots often don’t connect the same with the viewer; they are less engaging and inviting to the space while also missing the detail of the design. A good photographer will know how to use a wide angle lens and make it work when needed. Sometimes, there’s just no other choice and you have to work with what you’ve got. A townhome or a powder room would be good examples. Here, composition and distortion-correction in post production are key. But don’t make a habit of taking wide-angle shots . Try to find alternative angles and creative composition to show the interiors.”
Photographer Nicole Aubrey says…
“Remember to capture both vertical and horizontal hero shots, as they are both equally effective. Some spaces call for vertical hero shots, high ceilings, beautiful grand light fixtures, exposed beams, and some call for horizontal shots, large open concept spaces, shallow ceilings. But ultimately refer to your photographer as we will advise what best captures the beautiful space you’ve created!”
#3 LETS GET TECHINICAL!
To maximize your photo session, you need to look beyond the subject of the photo. Where do you intend to use the photos, and what are the requirements from a technical perspective? Since Instagram continues to the a key platform for the design industry, let’s focus here.
Below are some tried and true Instagram tips every photographer should know, courtesy of Wix Photography:
According to leading cloud-based development platform Wix, here are some tips to help put the focus on your Instagram account:
Don’t pose, compose. According to a blog post on Wix.com, ” you can now upload both portrait and landscape images. Although you still cannot control how Instagram will cut the thumbnail version, you’ll get at least get pictures that really resemble what you wanted to create.”
Wix referenced the following as the optimal Instagram image sizes for each format:
- Portrait images: 1080px by 1350px – 4:5 aspect ratio
- Square images: 1080px by 1080px – 1:1 aspect ratio
- Landscape images: 1080px by 566px – 2:3 aspect ratio
Any time of day is a good time. There is no “best time” to publish on Instagram but studies show there’s a slight advantage to posting on Monday and Thursdays. However, results vary depending on location, type of content and your audience’s routine. According to Wix, the secret to success is to “post, experiment, learn, repeat.”
Let your style set you apart. “Aside from posting constantly, you want to keep a consistent style or content pattern.” Translation: let yourself shine.
It’s okay not to be perfect. Okay, when it comes to magazine shoots, everything must be perfect. However, Instagram is also a perfect place to leverage some of those candid, behind-the-scenes moments from your photo shoot, perhaps as a teaser to your project release. Don’t sweat it. Let these photos project your vibe and your personality as a designer.
We asked a professional photographer for her best tip to keep in mind for this platform:
Photographer Nicole Aubrey says…
“Instagram will allow you to post a full horizontal shot, but a vertical shot needs to be at a 4:5 ratio. When shooting ensure you are keeping that in mind. If these photos are going to be used on Instagram, leave extra room for that crop, as your camera likely won’t shoot at a 4:5 ratio. High resolution images are necessary for print, but not necessary for socials. When sending your finished high-res TIFFS and/or JPEGS to your client, ask if they would like you to send the images as low-res files to use on their socials and/or website. They will take less time to download and upload, and they will load faster on your clients’ website for their visitors.”
MB to KB conversion: If the JPEG is less than 250KB, beware that it will only be suitable for use on screen. 250-500KB will be usable as a small thumbnail.
Your camera: With all of the new technology available these days, there is much debate on what file size is necessary for which purpose and platform. To make the best use of your files across all mediums (print, web and social), a 30-Megapixel camera is the minimum requirement. This size allows for images to be cropped and still be viable. Using a lower-resolution file can look grainy and obviously low-quality–a professional faux pas!
Photographer Kim Jeffery says…
“I personally capture in RAW to ensure that I am shooting at the camera’s largest file size so I have versatility when it comes to processing files. Keep in mind files can always be made smaller for web use, whereas there is a limit on increasing file size, and no way to increase resolution. Discuss usage with suppliers ahead of time. I personally like to shoot with a 50 Megapixel camera. Admittedly, it’s often overkill, though but gives you peace of mind in case the need to print really large images arises, for display or commercial advertising.”
#4 LESS IS MORE
Ensure that the focus of your images is your beautiful design work instead too many accessories, which can crowd and spoil the shots. Clear surfaces and restyle them with a minimal eye, using a few thoughtful selections.
Whether by design or just in your photos, remember that good composition will guide the eye to the area you want to highlight. Ensure you capture the right details in each shot. Remember, the end-goal of your interior photo shoot is to produce images that showcase your work and bring awareness for your brand.
Prepare a shot list ahead of your photo shoot, keeping in mind your intended use of the images. Share your list with the photographer ahead of time, making note of the specific design details that you want featured.
From our experience at Eventful PR, ensure you consider negative space. This is especially important for magazine photography, which may have to accommodate some text. This is also a consideration for newsletters and social media, where “black out zones” around the edges may be a factor.
#5 SPEND TIME ON COMPOSITION
One of the most important reasons to work with a experienced photographer is the trained eye they offer with regard to photo composition. The composition is what makes an image stand out–and in our opinion, this is job one.
Composition should be a key focus for your photographer. Review their portfolio of clients and shoots, and the moods they have captured in their work. Does it reflect what you want your audience to see about you?
When working with a photographer, we focus on sharing our visual concept and an overarching message/mood that we want to convey for the space. Discuss any custom or textural components of the project, and note specific standout elements like ceilings or hidden doors that must be considered and captured in the image plan. Then, hang back and let the photographer do what they do best. Watching the photo story come to life is an enjoyable and highly rewarding part of the process.
Photographer Julia Bewcyk says…
“Good composition is about finding balance within the frame. The different elements captured should lead the eye through the scene. It helps to think about the negative space. Sometimes, too many layers, props or furniture too close together can confuse the viewer if there isn’t enough ‘breathing room.’ Similarly, you need to be conscious of where you are cutting off an object when you aren’t capturing the whole thing. You need to make sure that what is included still informs the viewer of what it is in the context of the rest of the image. Avoid including unnecessary elements that overwhelm the scene.”
Photographer Stephani Buchman says…
“One of the most useful photography principles I work with is the ‘rule of thirds.’ This refers to a composed image evenly divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The details that you want featured prominently in your images should appear at the intersections of these thirds.”
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to prepping for your professional photo shoot, and getting the right shots. Consider your use of the photos (digital, print or social?), what’s required for them to be successful (resolution and orientation) and of course, consider how the photo composition reflects your work and your brand.
The new year is a natural time for many to review and assess their marketing plans, as is the case with Eventful PR. We hope this information will help you consider who you choose to hire for your photography, and how the deliverables will help achieve your goals.
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