If you run any type of business where your customers are invited into your premises, you have no doubt spent quite a lot of time and energy making the spaces look their best. Hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, cafes, gyms, shops, Coworking office spaces; the list goes on – all these sorts of environments benefit from professional interior photography to show them in the best possible light.
Here at F8, we’ve been providing interior photography for 10 years, but as the years have gone on we’ve realised more and more that as well as providing this sort of imagery to our clients, many of our clients can also benefit from being shown how to do it themselves. There is no denying the popularity of social media, or peoples desire to use it. But whilst we can’t be there to take new photos every day, we can help make the photos you take for your social media a little bit better.
Of course, this isn’t the only “how to take interior photos with an iPhone” guide out there. When we decided to do this article, I did a bit of research to find out what tips other people were peddling. There’s some great content out there too, but a lot of it either doesn’t show photos actually taken with mobile phones, and those that do show photos that have been heavily edited.
As such, I thought I would just show you some of the basics. Yes, it’s possible to get much nicer imagery by spending a lot of time and effort learning how to use “proper” camera, or even just the photo editing tools available on the app stores. But in reality, it’s my view that few people reading this will put that effort it. What most of you need are short cuts. The tips that will make the biggest impact on the end result with the least effort on your part… so here are my basics:
(All the images in this post were taken in The Kiln with an iPhone and then cropped to a square. They are straight out of the camera without any editing.)
Clean the lens
As a photographer who also covers events I often get asked to take a photo with someone’s mobile phone. 9 times out of 10, I’m handed a phone with a lens covered in makeup dust, pocket fluff, or worse, smeared with fingerprints. Any detritus on the lens will ruin your photos, so please, wipe it first!
Clean the environment (but don’t make it too clean)
When I am shooting interior photography I worry about the position of every chair, table, flower pot, and chocolate-croissant/orange-juice-prop in the shot. There is rarely anything in my photos that shouldn’t be there or hasn’t been meticulously placed.
You don’t need to worry so much – not least because I can spend a long time setting up a single shot, and you probably don’t have that time. It’s ok for your iPhone shots to look more real and less staged. It’s good to use your social media snaps to make you seem more “real” to your customers… but no one wants to see your leftover lunch. In short, clean up, but no need to be anal about it – that’s our job next time we come and take some pro-shots.
Keep the camera level
This all comes down to making the image feel natural to the viewer. Cameras are different to eyes and brains. The front of your eye has a lens, but the back of your eye is curved. This means you have peripheral vision – not something that is possible to emulate with any camera. Beyond even this though, most of what you see is interpreted by your brain.
Something that your brain is quite clever at doing is making what in photography we call converging or diverging verticals seem normal. Your camera doesn’t do this, so if you take a photo pointing the camera up or down the vertical lines within the space will look wrong – they will converge or diverge. The answer to this is simple. Where possible, keep the camera level!
Go straight, or go diagonal
As a professional, I break this rule all the time. But I know how; as someone with an iPhone, you might not. So, if you want your interiors to look good, I would suggest you shoot from a corner toward a corner or from one side of the room straight on to the other. Other angles can look very unnatural.
Take advantage of the tech
This last tip involves me taking a deep breath, not least as I really worry how it might be interpreted. Hopefully though, if you take everything I have so far said into account, you should still end up with good photos.
Camera phones are now some of the most powerful cameras on the market. If you have an up to date phone, there is a good chance it has more advanced features than my pro-spec camera equipment. This is because your camera phone is designed to do more for you than my camera is designed to do for me. I do the editing on the computer after, your camera phone does the editing for you the second you take the image.
For example, I have to be very careful shooting toward windows so the light outside and light inside look even. With a high-end camera phone, you shouldn’t need to worry – the tech in the camera will balance the light for you.
Beyond that though, camera phones now have extreme wide-angle lenses – my iPhone 11 pro has a wider angle lens than I otherwise own for my pro gear. Take advantage of it if you can – just be careful not to make the room look too unnatural.
Finally – and this is where I really have to set aside my snobbiness – most camera phones do panoramic stitching. These features can make for very unnatural looking photos and as a hoity-toity professional, I am really supposed to turn my nose up at such things. But, if you already have a set of high-quality professional interior photography shots, then why not have some fun with panoramic photos…?
If you hadn’t already guessed, we definitely recommend getting the pros (us) in to take your primary interior photography. However good your phone is, I can still do better with the experience I have and the kit I wield. But, that’s not to say you shouldn’t fill your socials with snaps you take on your mobile phone. Just make sure to follow the tips above and you should find your images take a step up in quality!