With the latest announcement of the iPhone X and the iPhone 8, we’re seeing more and more advancements in smartphone cameras. That means that more and more people have the ability to take professional-grade photos of anything and everything, including the thing that we’re most excited about: property (you’ve seen our photos, right?).
Maybe you just redecorated a room and want to show it off on Instagram. Maybe you’re trying to rent out an apartment and want to showcase it. Whatever your reason for shooting your place, we’ve all felt the frustration envisioning the perfect photo, opening our iPhone camera, and seeing something completely lackluster. We might believe that without buying a wide-angled lens for a few hundred dollars (and a camera to fit it), we’ll have to settle for a boring photo that just can’t capture the real feeling of our room.
Even without heavy duty equipment, anyone can take incredible photos
Lykens Companies was falling into the same problem—photos that looked underwhelming and didn’t do our units justice. Luckily, we found Matthew Garsky, our in-house photographer, who takes nothing but incredible photos of our units. Over coffee, I asked Garsky for his tips on taking photos of your home when an iPhone is the only hardware you’ve got.
1. Placement & Positioning
“Even without heavy duty equipment, anyone can take incredible photos with a point and shoot camera, whether that’s an iPhone or just a cheap digital camera,” Garsky claims. “To start off, you need to position yourself in a way that you’ll be able to capture as much as possible. Usually, that means standing as far in a corner as you can.”
When you’re in the corner, take notice of your ceiling height. You’ll want to hold the camera about halfway between the floor and the ceiling. Sometimes, this means holding it against your chest. Other times, it could be raising the camera about your head.
At this point, you’ll want to find the object furthest away from you and lock your iPhone’s focus to it. “Always lock focus; touch the point you want to focus on for about 5 seconds. Now, your lighting won’t change as you move the camera around,” Garsky advises. “Turn on your phone’s camera grid and make sure your picture is level and your lines are straight. Most times, the corner of the room should be in the center for symmetry’s sake. Other times, putting the corner of the room (or an object of focus) in a third of the frame gives the picture a sense of excitement. This works well when you shoot a series of photos and want to add variety to it.”
Last, look at your viewfinder and make sure there are no partial objects in the photo. For instance, 6 inches of a fireplace in the corner of your screen will ruin your framing. Less is more here. If you find that there’s an object ruining your frame, either move the object or tilt your camera away from it.
To take a good photo of a room, you’ll need as much light as possible. To start, open all your blinds and turn on all your lights. Take a look around the room. If there are no harsh, strange, and distracting shadows created in the area, then you’re off to a good start. Believe it or not, shadows resembling the silhouette of a T-Rex will distract your viewers.
In almost every circumstance, the more natural light, the better. For beginners, take your photos when the sun is highest in the sky. That way, direct light won’t come through your windows and you won’t have to deal with the strange shadows we talked about. Natural light should be first priority before relying on artificial light to fill in the gaps. That said, turning on lamps gives the lampshade an eye-catching glow.
Less is more. Remember that you’re showcasing the room, not your things.
“More advanced photographers can shoot in the morning. Morning shots create cool lighting, especially if you want to get a picture of bedside coffee or of soft light coming against partially closed curtains,” Garsky says. If you want an idea of what a masterful use of light looks like, check out a bit of his portfolio.
3. Setting Up Your Room
“Less is more,” Garsky believes. “Remember that you’re showcasing the room, not your things. Let the room speak for itself.” Speaking of rooms, Garsky gave us some rapid fire advice on how to best set up each of your rooms for the best possible photo.
- The Kitchen
- “Nicer countertops, like granite, are beautiful on their own and should be clean and clear. More lackluster countertop materials are enhanced by simple objects, like a fruit basket or nice kitchen essentials. Don’t let that become distracting though.”
- The Bathroom
- “Keep the toilet seat down! Have a super clean mirror—don’t be in the shot! Take away different bottles of products that could be distracting or ugly. Leave the ones that are simple and add to the color palette. Bars of soap work well for that. If your colors feel cold, try adding hand towels of complementary colors to add some pop. I also like to open shower doors so that I’m not in the glass’s reflection.”
- The Bedroom
- “Center your bed and have a symmetrical use of materials, like an even number of pillows, and take mainly straight on shots. Since bedrooms are such personal spaces, make sure you feel comfortable with what you’re presenting. I think that’s the biggest thing with them.”
- The Living Room
- “If possible, take the focus off the TV. Challenge yourself to take a photo that reflects the liveliness of the room. White walls or patterned pieces of art can bring rooms together while letting them breathe and feel expansive. Showcase unique furniture or decor, but make sure they aren’t too close to the frame of the shot.”
It takes effort and creativity, but the photos you take will be well worth it. So grab your iPhone and walk to the corner of your room. It’s time to start taking some pictures.