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    Tips for styling and photographing interiors


    The post Tips for styling and photographing interiors first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Lily Sawyer.


    On Instagram I have a page called Layered.Home that focuses on interiors: design, styling, home improvement and lifestyle in an interior environment. Here I work with brands on their brand awareness campaigns and product placements. It's all about styling and photographing products and spaces, sometimes with a specific assignment to adhere to and at other times I have the freedom to style the way I want.

    The unprecedented rise and popularity of social media platforms has paved the way for a new photography niche: personal brand photography. Here photographers photograph content for brands that they can use on their website, promotional material and social media messages. Although this is not my niche, I have photographed companies, interiors and products for customers as well as for my own social media page and continue to do so.

    Here are some of the articles I wrote earlier on this subject: photographing interior spaces, making better photos for Instagram, and photographing mixed lighting for interiors.

    Although I hope that the above articles will give you some photography techniques, this article will focus on some techniques for styling interiors for photo shoots and some tips for shooting at the end. Let's dive into it.


    Purpose of the photo shoot:

    Before you can style interiors successfully, you must first determine the purpose of the photo shoot. For who is it? What is it for? Are there goals to meet? Regardless of the answer, keep in mind that the styling must always be on the brand.

    Whatever the purpose, it is imperative that you first understand the branding of your customer and that you style to strengthen the brand, not to dilute it.

    Some styling purposes can be for the following:

    • customer's website – landing page images, blog posts, slide shows, etc.
    • social media feed – styling content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.
    • seasonal promotions – spring, summer, fall, winter, etc.
    • advertisement in a magazine
    • in a magazine – magazines also have their own niches and styles, so that stylists coordinate interiors with suitable magazine brands
    • product placement
    • brand awareness campaigns

    The latter two usually allow room for styling off-brand. The customer may want to reach your audience. That is why they may want you to design the product for your brand instead of theirs so that they reach your target audience and as a result expand their customer base.



    There are many styles with now trendy names that have been devised to describe them, such as Scandinavian or Scandi, Bohemian or Boho, Scandi-Boho, Modern, Medieval modern, Minimalist, Maximalist, Eclectic, Mediumalistic (!), Retro, Vintage, Contemporary , Traditional, Transitional (!), Industrial, Country, French Country, Rustic, Shabby Chic, Hollywood Glam, Period (for example, Victorian, Edwardian), Coast. And it goes on.

    Play it safely by reading the style or mixes of style and tacking on the accessories and pieces that are suitable for them.

    If you understand both the purpose and the style, you become an effective stylist.

    Styling tips

    1. When it comes to styling, there are two general camps: hero or low?

    Hero styling puts a piece in the spotlight, the piece that catches all attention. There is nothing else around it that takes away all that attention and makes the play disappear. The aim is to evoke a strong response from the viewer and create maximum impact.

    Layers is the opposite type of styling. Here you make a piece carefully in an arrangement of various other pieces, often varying in texture and shape. Layering creates a coherent stylized space that evokes a strong response – the same purpose as hero styling, but unlike hero, it does not do this alone.

    If you think about it, the purpose of many if not all images, whether viewed on print or digital media, is the same: the scroll-stopping, groundbreaking, breathtaking response from the viewer. I'm sure there are many other ways to get there, but the goal is the same.


    2. Evaluate what is happening on the 6 walls!

    There can be a maximum of 6 walls in a room; the last two are almost always forgotten! When someone enters a room or space, the first things we see are usually eye-level surfaces and spaces, and that means the walls for us and around us. We see photos, mirrors, high lamps and accessories at eye level.

    A successfully designed space invites the viewer to wander around and notice it, not just at eye level design, but at all design levels. This includes the 4th and 5th walls – the floor and the ceiling. A carpet can do wonders on a floor, just as a striking light or a painted / papered ceiling can attract attention.

    Regardless of the style you are creating, take into account the 6 walls in your space.


    3. Play with scale

    Whether you are designing a minimalist Scandi space or an eclectic eclectic interior, do not underestimate what playing with scale can do with a space. Perhaps you are designing a completely white minimalist Scandi room with just six pieces in the room. Imagine having all those six pieces on the same scale – all small, medium or large.

    You can also imagine to play those six pieces with a scale, so that you bend too large a light to the center of the room or hang low near the ceiling and an extra large carpet on the floor. The rest of the pieces are a mixture of medium and small. Immediately you increase the degree of interest and you increase the dynamics of the space.


    4. Arrangement

    In a Maximalist interior, it is easier to play with scale because you are dealing with so many decorative items that often come in different sizes. The challenge is not so much the "what" as the "how". How do you group and arrange all these items so that there is order in the madness? Or does a complete space not look messy and is there somehow a neat structure?

    You can sort by size, color, theme, in rows, or you can mix and match items and group them together, so that a busy space is interrupted by quieter spaces in between. I think having such a structure helps with how the space is received.


    Photographing interiors

    You have finally finished styling. It is now time to photograph your space.

    Photo wide so that you show the entire space. Be careful not to go too far where distortions are disturbing or cannot be corrected, especially when shooting at a speed of 24 mm and wider. A focal length between 35 mm – 50 mm is easy on the eye and gives you no distortions.

    Although interiors promote a wide-angle view of the space, close-ups are just as important. Use them to focus on specific functions of the room or product. Get closer and photograph vignettes and interesting compositions. Use jackets or shelves for horizontal bases and niches or chimney breasts or bench arms for vertical lines. Consider strong compositional framing and use elements in the space to reach them.


    Spaces look better if there is a contrast between light and shadow. This is why the use of the flash (especially head-on and flash that provides a flat light that illuminates an entire space) is often rejected and natural light is more preferred. Choose a time when the light is tilted and you can photograph light and shadow. It looks natural and evokes emotion in the viewer.

    That is what makes an image really successful.


    I hope these tips help you create and photograph spaces and interiors.

    Respond below if you have tips for sharing or if you want to share some of the spaces that your style shares after using these tips.

    The post Tips for styling and photographing interiors first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Lily Sawyer.

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