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Whether you’re shooting for a restaurant, hotel or someone’s personal home, interior design photography can be a great way for photographers to make money and become better known within the photo and business communities. Interior design photography might seem simple – there are generally no moving elements and you’re free to manipulate the space as you wish. But there are a few common mistakes beginners make, and easy ways to avoid them.

It’s a common misconception that large, interior spaces need as wide of a lens as possible. Although a wide lens is helpful, it’s not necessary and can sometimes be a detriment to the image. Most lenses that are wider than 24mm on most camera bodies will create a distorted, fish-eye effect. This will make the room looked warped and will distract from the interior itself. Rather than relying on a wide lens to capture everything within a room, reposition yourself around the interior to capture as much of the room as possible. Shoot from a corner, or even through the door from outside of the room.

As with most photography, interiors are best when shot with natural light. If the room has a strong natural light source, like a big window, turn off the rest of the lights while you’re shooting. This will make the colors within the room pop, and will cut down on the need for color correction later. If there’s no strong natural light, turn on all of the artificial lights within the room, and use a tripod to make sure your images aren’t underexposed or blurry.

Don’t get too creative with angling when shooting interiors. Use the natural lines of the walls, floor or windows to align your picture straight on. This will keep everything look natural and proportional. Make sure you’re shooting at a high f-stop when capturing an entire space to ensure everything is sharp. Save shallow depths of field for detailed product shots.

When you’re ready to edit, start by opening your image in Lightroom. For this tutorial, I’m using an interior shot of a hotel room.

The first step is to correct the white balance. Click on the White Balance Selector tool, which looks like an eyedropper. Then scroll over your image and click on a neutral gray tone. This will automatically set the white balance of the image to match. Manually tweak the Temperature and Tint sliders until you like the tone of the image.

Now we’re going to tweak the exposure. For interiors, a bright, high key look works well. Bump up the overall Exposure slightly, decrease the Highlights and increase the Shadows. This will even out the contrast and brighten your image overall.

Use the Whites and Blacks sliders to bring some contrast back into the image. Hold down Alt and slide the Blacks slider down until you star to see colored details coming through the white display. Do the same with the Whites slider until the black display shows some white highlights. Now your image should look bright with a strong contrast.

The lighting in many interior shots can come across flat in photographs, so we’re going to add some complexity and dimension to the lighting. Click on the Radial Filter tool at the top of the editing bar. Create a large circle over an area of the photo where light already falls naturally. Increase the exposure slightly and make sure Feather is turned all the way up to 100 and that the Invert Mask box is checked. Once you like the look and placement of your new highlight, hold Alt + Command and click, drag and drop the circle to a few more areas of your image that need some extra lighting or dimension.

Click Y to see a before and after view of your image. The interior should already look brighter and more inviting.

If you shot your image at a high ISO, bump up the Luminance to reduce the noise, then increase Sharpening.

Go down to Lens Correction and check Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration. This will help adjust any warping happening within your picture.

Now we’re going to switch to Photoshop to make a few final adjustments. Go to Photo>Edit In>Edit in Adobe Photoshop. Make sure you select Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments, and click Edit.

Make a background copy by dragging the background layer down to the icon that looks like a piece of paper with a corner folded over.

We’re going to use a blur filter and the brush tool to smooth out wrinkles in any sheets or bedding, to give everything a nicely finished look. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, and change the Radius to about 15. Then click OK.

Hold down Alt and click on the mask icon, which looks like a rectangle with a small circle in the middle of it, located at the bottom of the layers panel. Check the two boxes in the bottom left corner and make sure the foreground is set to white. Select a soft, round brush and set the Opacity to about 75 percent. Paint over any wrinkly linens until bedding looks smooth. Tweak the Opacity until the effect looks natural.

Press X to switch the foreground of the small boxes to black. Paint back over the edges of the bedding to clean up any messy borders. Use Levels to make any final adjustments to the exposure and contrast.

Now you can take these techniques and use them to kickstart your career in interior design photography.


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