Photography tips for decorators by Jon Mears

I’m not going to try and pretend I’m a brilliant photographer, but it is something I enjoy, and it is something I think is criminally underappreciated by a lot of decorators.

Taking a bit of extra time to get some great photos that really show off your work seems like a no brainer for me.

To help, I’ve researched some of the best tips to help you take better quality photos of your work with nothing but your phone!

I’ve also used these tips on the smallest bedroom in my house so you can see how these techniques can be used in any space.

First up, let’s look at some initial photos I took and use them to get better at noticing common mistakes. In these photos the goal is to show off the wallpaper.

Here is the sort of photo you see all the time on Facebook and Instagram.

Yes, it shows the wallpaper, but it’s not a good photo. The issue highlighted here is the angle.

When taking a picture of a room like this, try shooting into the corner of the room. It will make the space look bigger and will create an effect where the eye gets drawn in.

This is a better attempt. The corner of the room is now pretty much in the centre of the frame.

The photo has also been taken from a lower vantage point. This is important when photographing interior rooms.

Try to take the photos from a mid-height. You’re aiming to get equal amounts of the ceiling and floor in the frame. Also, be sure to remember the height you take photos from as you want it to be the same for every shot. For most people it’ll usually be about waist height.

There is an issue with this picture though.

The bed is untidy.

Remember to take an extra couple of minutes to tidy up and make everything look neat before you start taking photos.

Ok, we’ve tidied up the bed and it is starting to look like a better photo.

The issue now is the window.

Don’t be tempted to draw the curtains and turn the light on.

We always want to use just natural light wherever possible.

Now, if you wanted to get clever you could use editing skills to sort the window issue out. This involves taking 3 photos from exactly the same position. One with low exposure, one mid and one high exposure. You then blend them together to get a nice image.

However, we’re trying to keep it simple here, so the best thing to do in my opinion is to start trying other angles.

A few quick shots to critique. This one has too much ceiling and no floor. The height of the shot is wrong.

This one is a bit better for height, but there is a charging cable hanging out under the bed.

Now we have found a better angle and a better height. Unfortunately, this photo is still not right.

It is often tempting to use a really wide angle, but you have to be careful not to abuse it.

Wide angles often distort the lines. You can see it slightly in this image. The walls and door frames don’t go straight up and down, they are on an angle.

Not to mention the wide angle has capture a load of clutter. Including a wash basket, I’d moved for my earlier photos.

Here we go! Much better!

The photo is angled at the corner of the room, the lighting is natural and consistent, there is no clutter, and everything is tidy. We also have a decent height for the shot (there are equal amounts of ceiling and floor in frame). Plus, the lines are straight, unlike the previous photo.

This is pretty good in my opinion. A lot better than our first attempt.

The final thing to do is compliment your photo with a more detailed and artsy picture. Use the same rules with lighting and keep the lines straight but try out some different angles to try and get something cool like this photo.

Let’s recap the tips you can start using:

  1. Shoot into the corner of a room to make the space look bigger and to use the natural lines of the room to lead the eye into the centre of the shot.
  2. Height is important. Take your shots from about mid-height. Try to capture equal amounts of ceiling and floor in the frame. Make sure all your images are from this height. Consistency is key. For most people the correct height will be around their belly button. So just remember that!
  3. Tidy up! There is nothing worse than seeing charging cables hanging out or tools in the background. Imagine you’re trying to get the perfect image to go on the front cover of a magazine.
  4. If possible, only use natural light. Turn off all other light sources. This will give you better colours and highlights.
  5. Experiment with angles. Take a few shots from each corner of the room and see what looks best.
  6. Don’t abuse the ‘wide angle’. These types of shots can look great, but they often distort the image and make the whole room look very odd.
  7. Keep your lines straight. Use uprights and doors to ensure all lines in your image are straight. If you go to the camera settings on your phone you can turn on a grid. I’d recommend doing this as it helps you line everything up.
  8. Photograph the room, not just your work. It’s tempting just to capture an image of your work, but photos need context. A picture of a feature wall taken from straight on very rarely makes a good photo. You need to imagine you are showing off the whole room. It’ll make the photo more interesting and more appealing to the eye.
  9. Mix it up with close detail shots. Don’t be afraid to get a little artsy! Experiment with close ups on certain features.
  10. Zoom with your feet. If you want to zoom in on a shot, try to avoid using the zoom function on the phone. It’s just not as good as actually walking forwards a few steps.
  11. Edit all your photos! Before you post a photo, just take a couple of minutes to tweak the basics. Brightness, contrast, saturation etc. There are loads of free apps you can do this on, and it makes a big difference. So, make sure you do it.
  12. Clean your lens! Please give the back of your phone a wipe before taking photos. Not doing that can ruin all the hard work above!

Finally, let’s compare our original shot against our final shots. Hopefully, you agree they are much better and if I were to show them to a customer, I know which ones are more likely to give them confidence in my skills and make me look better.

First picture:

Final photos:

Oh, and one more thing.

Connect with me! I’m more than happy to share your posts and give you a boost!

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