Decor is an essential part of our interiors, adding atmosphere and visual appeal to the places we occupy. To capture the beauty of decor is to capture the feelings it inspires within us.
Although in many ways decor is an easy subject to photograph — it can be altered and changed, and won’t talk back — it presents many unique challenges.
When it comes to capturing the beauty of decor (see also “Capturing The Beauty Of Interior Spaces“), photos need to have a clear focal point and purpose. Use lines and staging to create images that the eye follows naturally, guiding the viewer through the picture.
Natural lighting can soften the ambiance, for an image that feels welcoming.
Want to start photographing decor? Read our guide to discover the best ways to capture the beauty of decor as a photographer. These adaptable tips can help you photograph a variety of interior spaces.
1. Use Natural Lighting
The first thing to do when it comes to shooting interiors is to turn all the lights off. That means the overhead light, strategic reading lamps, uplights, downlights, and anything in between. They all need to be turned off.
This probably isn’t the most intuitive choice, but it is the right one. These artificial lights won’t illuminate your decor. Instead, they’ll cast a sickly glow that makes everything look fake and dull.
Ambient lighting is the perfect light for capturing decor. This diffused light has a softer effect than harsh, direct light. The even temperature of the natural light allows authentic colors to come through.
It also prevents the strong shadows that occur when using artificial light and can distract the line of the picture.
Of course, sometimes you can’t avoid artificial lighting when photographing decor. Some areas indoors just don’t get the natural light you need! When this happens, keep the light levels low, experiment with positioning, and never turn the flash on!
2. Invest In A Tripod
Decor photography needs to be clear and sharp. There’s no room for blur or shake in a picture like this. It will only confuse the viewer and disturb the lines of the shot.
The easiest way to ensure image clarity is with a tripod. A tripod acts as a firm base for a camera, reducing wobble so you can capture even a long exposure perfectly. It also allows you to level your camera, to ensure you aren’t pointing low or high.
Once you’ve set up your shot, a tripod can ensure you’re capturing the exact angle perfectly. Shooting an area with lots of straight lines? A tripod will keep them straight.
A tripod doesn’t have to be a major investment. A decent tripod is a low-cost investment that delivers high-quality results in your photography. You can buy tripods to fit cameras and smartphones.
3. Find A Focal Point
Decor photography is about more than just taking pretty photos of nice objects. There’s an element of storytelling to good decor photography. It tells the viewer something about an object, creating a feeling and building interest.
To create this feeling, you need a focal point. The focal point is the place in the frame that the eye goes to immediately. This is the object or area that you want as the center of attention.
Once you’ve found your focal point, you can begin to build the picture.
4. Remove The Clutter
Shots of decor need to have clearly defined edges and boundaries, otherwise they become jumbled and hard to read. That doesn’t mean every single item needs to be placed in a separate box.
It just means you can’t have lots of layers and colors and styles overlapping.
The first thing to do is remove any clutter that might be disrupting your shot. Get rid of visible cables and cords, clear away the junk, and simplify the setup. Once you’ve removed the extraneous items, you can start to focus properly on the composition.
5. Give Interiors Room To Breathe
Staging is key to creating good shots of decor. That doesn’t mean you have to take everything down and start again. If you’re interested in photographing the decor, then you probably have a good starting point already!
But it does mean you have to think carefully about how each item is being presented.
Consider the items that you want in the shot, and what is distracting from the overall composition. Remove or hide anything that isn’t working.
The interior should have room to breathe. Avoid overcrowding the space with too many conflicting ideas. This will prevent the eye from focusing on the shot.
Too many items in the frame is the same as too many people talking at once — you don’t know where to put your focus.
Space around an object or a small area of overlap helps define the edges of the decor. Avoid having lots of items touching, or things partially hidden behind other things. Some negative space is essential, as it allows the decor you’re focusing on to shine.
6. Experiment With Angles
When shooting decor, make sure to move around the room to explore the angles. Spend a moment in every corner to see the view.
Try shooting upwards, discovering objects from the floor. And try shooting down, particularly if you can find a high vantage point.
Even if you think you’ve found the right angle straight away, it helps to experiment with other options. At worst, it will reinforce that your initial instinct was the right one. At best, you’ll find a whole new way to explore the decor.
Angles are particularly helpful if you’re photographing decor that’s set in one place. As you can’t move the items in the frame, you have to move the frame itself.
While new angles can be revealing, don’t get carried away. This is decor photography, so the items still need to be recognizable. A picture of a chair upside down might be an amazing abstract art piece, but it’s a terrible photo of a chair.
7. But Keep All The Lines Straight
Lines direct the viewer through the photograph. They’re a crucial part of the storytelling, even when they aren’t always obvious. Lines tend to be inherent in decor photography, so it’s important to get them right.
A lot of cameras (including many smartphones) come with grid settings. This places a grid over the screen as you take the photo, so you can check your angles. With the grid, you can ensure your basic setup is straight.
Otherwise, use your instinct. Take a step back and assess the decor as a whole. Is there anything noticeably off about the angle? Then take a few test photos and pay close attention to the angle of the lines.
8. Look For Balance
Balanced framing is important when creating appealing photographs of any type. When it comes to decor photography, looking for symmetry can help you find that balance.
Interior spaces often use symmetry to balance a room. Imagine a fireplace or a shelving unit. Without thinking, we tend to be drawn to symmetry when decorating. Playing up this symmetry can help enhance the line of your decor photos.
It isn’t necessary to balance every photo completely symmetrically. Forcing symmetry can look uncanny. When this is the case, we turn to other balancing options. The rule of thirds is a common choice for creating flattering photos.
This divides the frame into thirds, emphasizing one side. The golden ratio is a similar style, focusing on a busy point before pulling out to simplicity.
9. Start Wide And Move In
With your interior staged, it’s time to start taking your photos! Start wide before slowly moving in. Get as much in the frame as possible for the first shot, standing far back to add space.
Then, move forward (or zoom in). Gradually bring the frame tighter and tighter, until your focus is on the details.
By moving slowly through the scene, you can discover new angles and focal points. This method also ensures you capture everything you want to see.
No one wants to finish a shoot only to discover they missed angles they were enthusiastic about getting.
You have to be smart when capturing the beauty of decor. It can be easy to allow the eye to get distracted, taking muddled photos that fail to create a focal point.
However, with a measured approach, a focus on angles, and a willingness to play around, you can take beautiful decor photos.
Frequently Asked Questions
Good home decor photos balance careful staging with natural lighting and precision shooting. Begin by creating a clear setup with considered staging and a strong focal point.
Use a tripod to ensure high clarity and straight lines. Shoot from a range of angles and play with spacing.
Decor photography should allow the subject to shine. Use ambient light to soften the photograph and create a natural effect. Consider what part of the decor is the focal point of your photograph.
Avoid hiding objects and blurring outlines, as this can clutter the photo. And once you’ve taken a picture, stop, reassess, and try something new!