Top Tips For Exceptional Interior Photographs

Art and Style: Create Good Interior Photos with These 7 Expert Tips

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up


When marketing your architecture or design business, or simply bragging about your beautiful beach house, the quality of photography needs to match the splendor of the interior.

Many people feel that the breath-taking interior photographs you see in glossy magazines are impossible to achieve without the most expensive camera.

This is simply untrue.

We’ve compiled a list of interior photography tips that ensure your photographs are magazine-worthy every time.

1. Lighting is Key

Lighting is of paramount importance when creating good interior photographs. Although there is a degree of personal preference that comes into play, the general agreement is that all artificial interior lighting gets switched off. This allows for a more organic and cleaner look.

When you utilize interior lighting incorrectly, you create an inconsistent jumble of shadows and contrasts. These shadows scatter in an unnatural and unesthetic manner which detracts from the composition and content of the photograph. 

We would highly recommend utilizing natural lighting as much as possible. That said, you will likely require the help of a flash or strobe to lend a sense of depth to the shot. If you use artificial light—because sometimes it is truly unavoidable—be sure to diffuse it. This can be achieved by bouncing the light off an adjacent wall or diffusing it through an umbrella or softbox.

Note that if you are bouncing your light, the color of the shot is automatically affected by the color of the surface used to bounce the artificial light.

2. Establish Your Composition First

One of the best-kept secrets in the interior photography world is to let the composition of a shot guide the photograph. Mastering the art of composition will allow the other elements of a photograph to fall into place organically while enhancing the overall standard of the photograph. Composition distinguishes the amateur from the truly artistic photographer.

Composition includes elements such as color, depth, leading lines, and ‘white’ or ‘negative’ space. When working on improving your composition, start with the ‘rule of thirds’. This is a fundamental composition technique where you split any shot into three horizontal and three vertical lines. This creates nine segments. The rule of thirds suggests you contain the key elements of your photograph to one or two of these quadrants. 

3. Avoid Overly Wide Shots

Resist the temptation to whip out your widest wide-angle lens when shooting an interior scene. You may feel you want to capture the entirety of the room, but it’s important to realize that this ultimately detracts from the quality of the photograph. A wide lens often creates an unsettling visual distortion. This distortion only serves to detract from your excellent composition and lighting.

If you’re taking photographs for real estate purposes, then you want to exaggerate the size of a room for marketability. In which case, a wide-angle lens is appropriate. Interior photography, on the other hand, is all about tasteful design. We would advise against using a lens that is wider than 24mm for interior photography.

4. Create Depth

Creating depth is closely related to composition. The positioning of items of furniture and decorative styling objects can influence the overall feel of a photograph in dramatic ways. When these items are strategically placed, they can set up an expertly curated foreground, middle ground, and background.

If you are unsure of what this entails, step away from the scene you are shooting. When you return, note where your eyes are drawn to first and where they go next. The elements of the shot should be set up in a way that both creates depth and guides your viewing experience. It may be worth asking for a friend or co-worker’s advice, as they can view the space with a fresh set of eyes.

5. Declutter and Curate The Space

Although this point might not seem like it’s worth mentioning, you would be surprised at the number of photographs ruined by the careless inclusion of clutter. When your eye is not tuned into the curation of a high-quality photograph, clutter may go unnoticed. Even if it is not immediately apparent in the shot, it makes a significant difference to the general quality and elegance of the photograph. If you employ a photographer to shoot an interior, they may well include the time they spend decluttering or curating the space in their bill, as it’s a valuable skill that’s learned over time.

To perfectly curate your space, spend as much time as possible in the interior you want to photograph before the shoot. This allows you to notice what needs removing, moving elsewhere, or to place items center stage. It also takes the pressure off the shooting day as you don’t have to worry about a thorough decluttering while setting up to shoot.

6. Plan Ahead of Time

Planning is absolutely non-negotiable. If you show up on the day and improvise your shots, then you cannot expect to create above-average photographs. This is particularly important if you’re working with a client, as it is a mark of professionalism and a sign of competence.

When you are familiar with the layout of a space, you can plan for the best time of day to take photographs. This circumvents possible overexposure by harsh sunlight or extreme darkness in the absence of natural light. Allowing yourself ample time to meditate on the composition of the shot is sure to result in photographs you’d proudly display in your portfolio

7. Edit Every Photograph

Neglecting this crucial step is like running a marathon and stopping just short of the finish line. There is an abundance of affordable editing software available for download that will increase the quality of your photographs tenfold.

However, beware of over-editing your photographs, as this could end up looking obvious and unnatural. That said, skilled editing can rescue a photograph that is otherwise deemed a failure. Even if your camera is of average quality, you can create professional-grade photographs that are magazine-worthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time of day to take interior photographs? 

This depends on the direction the property faces. Morning or afternoon is best, however, otherwise, the light can appear flat.

What makes a good interior photo?

Attention to detail and curation of the space are two key elements.

What’s the most important element of composition when shooting interiors?

The rule of thirds is an excellent element to incorporate into interior shots. Aligning your camera with one of the walls also works, as does using architectural features as a guide.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Related Articles

Best Bedroom Furniture Ideas: Designer Ideas That You Should Try

Whether or not you sleep a lot, having a relaxing bedroom you can settle in at the end of each ...

lawn care equipment

Essential Tips for Caring for Your Lawn Care Equipment

Keeping your lawn care operational and in pristine condition isn't just a matter of pride for many homeowners but is ...

best corner sofa

10 Reasons to Buy the Best Corner Sofa: Plus 5 Options

If you want to transform your living room, the best corner sofa might be just what you need. It's a ...