This is a guest post by Andrea Ahedo, our Visual Media Producer/Head Photographer. See her bio at the end of the post.
“I want to re-shoot the kitchen.”
Julia raised her eyebrows with a smile and said, “Okay!”
I started working for Chris Loves Julia during a jam-packed-big-deal week. We were filming and photographing a Thanksgiving campaign for World Market on my third day, and it was Phase 1 Kitchen Reveal Week! I was eager to jump right in and get well-acquainted with what my new main subject would be: interiors. For the past six years I had built a successful commercial photography career, loving and wearing every hat of the creative process: from art director to photographer to retoucher. I had published in magazines, shot fashion campaigns, photographed entire catalogues, styled food and product, and hosted styling and staging workshops. I was more than qualified for the job and confident that I could shoot interiors, applying my wealth of experience. But I swallowed hard behind my camera lens that first week. Photographing a room is unlike photographing anything else! They say it takes 10,000 hours to master something. And my new job at CLJ was going to be the ultimate interior photography master class. For kicks, let’s compare same angle shots from six months ago, and this week. Bare with me guys; I’m laying it all out.
These photos were taken with the same camera, and no, they haven’t repainted their cabinets! It’s just *face palm* white balance principles! And for heaven’s sake: Shoot on a tripod no matter what — OK, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s break down my top tips for shooting interiors. Andi-Tested-and-Approved!
- Use a tripod. No matter what. Your camera needs to be on a tripod.
Shooting on a tripod gets your photos tack sharp. Every detail from the rolling pin, to the artichoke, to the soap dispensers can be in focus, and should be! Shooting on a tripod also lets you leave that shutter open as long as you need to get the exposure you want. This photo was shot at f7.1 for 1/6 second at ISO 100. Using a tripod also allows you to shoot at multiple exposures, and then blend them together in Photoshop. I didn’t do that technique here, but I did write a whole blog post about this last year (that includes a video tutorial!), and you should definitely check out.
2. “Vignettes” are a great way to show the room’s character.
The purpose of our previous photo was to show the relationship of space in the kitchen: Where’s the island in reference to the sink? Where are plates stored? How big is the window compared to the sink? But the purpose of the above photo is show the personality of the kitchen, and more of Chris and Julia’s design taste. We call these vignettes. They’re close-up shots that have a story-telling aspect to them. I can see in detail what kind of knives and spices Chris likes to have on hand. I can better appreciate a piece of art, and let a bowl of citrus draw me into this kitchen cottage corner.
3. Adjust your white balance to get your photo as close to what your eye is seeing as possible.
You know how big of a deal it is to choose a paint color. We pour ourselves over walls of paint chips because — are you going with SW Moscow Midnight or SW Rainstorm? There’s a difference! It is crucial while photographing interiors that your shot represents what your eye is seeing. If you painted your cabinets bright white, they can’t look off-white in photos. If you have a new deep navy blue loveseat, it cannot look dark gray in photos. And let’s say it: Chris and Julia’s island wasn’t painted black, as my photo from last August portrays. You have to do the design of the room justice and capture that in camera. So what should you be double checking? First and foremost: your white balance. White balance (WB) is about removing unrealistic color casts, so that the colors you’re seeing in person are rendered in your photo. All cameras have an Auto White Balance (AWB) setting, and then some “light presets” to select depending on what is the light available where you’re shooting. Is it tungsten lighting or are you shooting in the shade? Overcast cloudy lighting? Florescent? They do a pretty good job and are a great place to start. But I know a lot of you guys are in the “Kelvin camp” and would probably feel comfortable even manually dabbing into setting your white balance! Look for the “K” option in White Balance settings, and manually set the color temp for your photo. I recommend turning on your camera’s Live View as you dial so you can see the colors adjusting before your eyes and know when you have a perfect match.
4. Get Low.
I taught Digital Photography and Advanced Photoshop at a private school for five years, and I often told my students. “The best shot is the one you’re physically uncomfortable while taking.” If you always shoot at eye level, from your height’s perspective, you’re robbing yourself of a much more interesting angle if you would just squat a bit or drop a knee! Working on a tripod, I’m typically adjusting its legs and center column for every shot. And you can always turn on your camera’s self timer so if it’s set up low to the ground, you just press the shutter and let it do its thing!
This is just the beginning! My photographer friends out there will also have a lot to say about perspective and lenses. These tips are just to get all of us (myself included!) started. I’ll be sure to bring all of you along as I clock my 10,000 hours, sharing what I’m learning along the way when it comes to interior photography. I know there are a lot of really talented bloggers and photographers out there who are using cell phone photography, and wow — that technology has come a long way! Feel free to share top tips in the comments. While we might be of different opinion and skill sets, maybe we can all agree: Photographing your home is just another way to love where you live.
Paint Color: Thunderous by Sherwin Williams in a Satin finish
Dinner Bell (old, similar)
Round Wood Footed Tray (old, similar)
Marble Spoon Rest
Marble Utensil Holder
Copper Tea Kettle
Pyramid Cheese Grater
Mortar & Pestle
Mini Copper Cocottes
Large Strainer Stock Pot
White Enamel Dutch Oven
Copper Kitchenaid Stand Mixer
Magnetic Knife Strips
Vertical tongue and groove paneling
Cream Smeg Toaster
Long Wood board
Natural White Speckled Melamine Bowls
Marble Rolling Pin
Olivewood Salt and Pepper Mills
Round Pizza Board
Wood Fruit Bowl (similar)
Andrea Bradley de Ahedo is a stylist and commercial photographer who recently moved to Idaho, after living abroad in Monterrey, Mexico, to be the Visual Media Producer for Chris Loves Julia. She loves foraging for unique spoons and bowls for her ever-growing prop collection, and shooting flatlays for days. She feels most at home when she is traveling with her husband and toddler son in tow. You can check her out on Instagram at @andiandreastudio.