How to Prepare any Interior for a Photoshoot
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Beautiful locations don't just happen. When you are looking at a photograph of a room in a magazine, the room has usually been styled by professionals. Before any commercial photo shoot, you should always make sure the space you are shooting it is ready to be photographed. Coming prepared with accessories, art, and props is a great way to ensure the location looks as good as possible when it’s photographed. That means fluffing the pillows, organizing shelves, and arranging the flowers to look just right.
Here's our guide to preparing an interior space for a photoshoot.
Preparing the room
Get rid of any clutter
The most important thing before you even start propping is to get rid of unnecessary clutter. Anything that doesn’t add to the frame should be removed. If you are shooting in someone else's house, take a before and after photograph so you can put things back where you’ve found them. Any envelopes, remote controls, random pens, toys, or dog beds should be removed from the scene. Although these things are natural to have around the house, they don’t necessarily add to the photographs. You want a simple, clean canvas to start propping with.
Clean the room
A dirty house is not a house that’s ready for a photo shoot. Give the room you are shooting in a once-over, so there is not any dust or dirt present. This is especially pivotal for the floor, as a dirty floor can show up in photographs. Wipe down everything right before a shot is being taken to have the highest chance of capturing the perfect photograph. That being said, it’s natural to have a little mess. If you miss anything, just ensure you can touch it up in post-production.
When it comes to bathrooms, make it very clean
Bathrooms aren’t always perfect. But these are pivotal to be extremely clean in your photographs. The number one rule? Put the lid down! Make sure towels and floor mats match your brief theme and are folded or rolled nicely. Put any toothpaste, toothbrush or soap dispenser away under the sink. Showers should look empty and clean (no loofahs allowed). Tuck any personal belongings away and have a clean bathroom surface to start shooting in.
Clean the windows
Any room that is photographed should have perfectly cleaned windows. Dirty windows can change the light that enters the room, or if you're photographing near a window, the glare on a dirty window can have a huge impact on your photographs. Make them shiny, make them clean.
Make sure you have the right lighting for the space
When you are shooting interior spaces, sourcing the right can sometimes be difficult. The time of day and direction that the light enters the room really affects how your photographs turn out. Early in the morning is generally a good idea for most interior shoots that allow for natural light, however, be prepared to bring extra lighting sources in case things are too dark inside. Check out the space before you shoot so you know the kind of gear you’ll need. You don’t want to photograph any shadows, or overly warm lighting unless that’s in the brief guidelines.
Shutterstock Custom assignments will specify the type of mood you are supposed to create with your images, so ensure you understand these and that the space matches the mood prior to scheduling your shoot. We suggest always bringing a tripod when shooting interior spaces to eliminate any motion blurs that might occur from shooting in interior lighting conditions, especially at night.
There are a lot of props that you can bring with you to a shoot to bring a room to life. We’re sharing a few different props that you can bring on your next Shutterstock Custom shoot. Be aware of your brief’s theme and brand guidelines before you decide to use any of these props, and always prioritize what your individual brief says.
As photographers, learning the basics of arranging flower displays is key. Fresh flowers are one of the most widely used props you’ll find in any well-styled interiors. Some great places to place fresh flowers? Coffee tables, end tables, bedside tables, and fireplace mantels. Flowers and plants add a splash of color to photographs and can work well in nearly any space.
Some homes have great art, and others do not. Be sure to remove any photographs that are not usable for commercial licenses (unless you have model releases for the people appearing in the photographs). Any artwork should be general and have the rights to be photographed. If you do not know if you have the rights to have the artwork in the background of your images, a safe bet is to remove it.
Add a rug
A rug is a great piece to add to a room to bring the room to life. We love including bright and colorful rugs in photographs depending on the brief theme, as neutral rugs can appear bland or washed out on camera.
Make sure you are aware of the reflection of any mirrors in the house. If you choose to shoot directly into a mirror, make sure you're capturing some sort of beautiful aspect of the room or product you are photographing and not your own camera lens!
Add blankets and pillows
Whether you are shooting in a living room or bedroom, adding a beautiful blanket can pop against an otherwise plain surface such as regular bedding or your couch. Position them to be clean, bright, but slightly lived in for an authentic look. Pillows are another fun way to add color to your interior photographs, we love bright colored pillow covers that match the brief theme. A great way to easily bring in color into your shoot.
An all-around white table top: A table top is our go-to choice for DIY photography backdrops. Choose one with an almost matte finish, which will be perfect for product shots. This is a great alternative to using foam or paper, as it’s durable and can be easily reused over and over again. This is also a great backdrop for shooting still life, and can be used for a wide variety of themes and assignment types.
Wooden cutting boards: These are amazing for product shoots, especially if you don’t have access to any larger pieces of wood furnishings. You can find them in a wide variety of price points and textures depending on what you are looking to achieve.
Ceramic floor tiles: A great, affordable choice for product or food photography backgrounds. You can pick up a wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes from any local hardware store. You can combine more than one to make a larger surface depending on how big you need the backdrop to be.
Parchment paper: Using parchment paper is a great way to add a bit of texture to your photographs, and you can make them as long as you need. Great for food photography, layer parchment paper with linens over top for some great texture and diversity to your photographs.
Linen sheets: Linen clothes or sheets are great to place on any surface and wonderful for any organic or natural theme you are trying to capture. Pull them tight, or leave them loose depending on the overall vibe you are trying to capture. Get inspired to start using linen by this article featuring tips on food styling and backdrops by Marcella DiLonardo of Hey Modest Marce.
Fabric: Fabric can act as a backdrop when hung, or work as a tablecloth. These are fantastic options to invest in, as you can continue to wash and reuse for various shoots.
Styling is key to great interior photographs. Positioning items around the room, and arranging them to look visually appealing to photograph can bring a photograph to life and make a huge impact on the photograph. Here are some styling tips to adhere to before you start shooting.
Very few people have perfectly styled shelves, so don’t fret if yours are messy. That being said, having a de-cluttered and well-styled shelf shows in photographs. Highlight beautiful books, accessories and flowers. Play with levels and arrange your shelves to be diverse but clean. Ensure that you don’t have any personal photographs, commercially licensed characters, and books with recognizable covers visible on your shelves. They should look generic and beautiful.
In any interior shoot, it’s rare that you’ll see side tables and end tables that are empty. They are usually styled with a bit of color, whether that be through flowers, photo frames, or other small accessories such as a globe or ceramic vase. Styling should be minimal, carefully considered and never crowded.
And last but not least, don’t make it too perfect.
Don’t obsess over having every single detail perfectly clean and set-up, you should give the room a bit of room to come to life. Having slightly lived in details is what makes an image more authentic and interesting. At least one thing in your frame should be a little lived in to keep things from looking boring and unrealistic.
We hope these tips help inspire you for your next shoot. Have any tips on styling and propping an interior shoot location you want to share? Comment them below! We'd love to share your knowledge with the Shutterstock Custom community.
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