So you’re probably here because you love your home and you’re ready to show the world. Don’t let the space you’ve spent countless hours decorating have its legacy lived out in gloomy, dark, fuzzy photos. Allow it to live its best life!

Easier said than done, we know. Photographing your house can be a daunting task, especially when you consider the camera’s elusive power to either make something look dazzlingly perfect or downright dreadful (if you’ve ever taken 500 selfies and ended up not liking a single one, you know what we mean). The same photographic principle goes for your home — but, thankfully, you don’t need to be a seasoned pro to know how to make your space look amazing. Stick with us.

Let’s start with the basics: a camera. Just because you don’t own the latest and greatest camera doesn’t mean you can’t take amazing photos. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Whether you have that fancy DSLR or a basic bottom-of-the-line camera, most (if not all) will have at least some options for manual shoot settings. Don’t shy away from manual mode! — it will allow you to control every aspect of your images and give you a wider range of control in different lighting situations. Manual is now your best friend, so spend some time getting to know each other (hope you kept that owner’s manual). Once you’re feeling comfy with your camera, below are a few tips and tricks for some seriously high quality, magazine-worthy images of your home that you’ll be proud you took and can cherish for years. Happy shooting!

Quick note: these are by no means hard and fast rules — cater them to you and use them as loose guidelines when in doubt!

1. Find Your Light

If you have only one takeaway from this entire photography guide, it should be this one: turn off those lights!

That warm soft glow from your table lamp might look sexy to your highly advanced rods and cones in your human eye, but to your camera, interior lights are your worst enemy. When it comes to certain things, cameras are just never going to capture it right. Ever try to take a cellphone photo of a jaw-droppingly gorgeous sunset? Not happening. Some things are better left enjoyed by the naked eye — and lamp light is one of them. Instead, go for natural light. Open those shutters and pull back the curtains and let that sunlight stream through in all its naked glory. This also means you’ll need to time your interior photoshoot for a weekend or early morning when you have time to be home during the best light of the day. Turn off those artificial lights and keep em off!

west elm guide to interior photography

Shooting with natural light will not only yield a more natural, soft and even-toned photo, but will cut down on the amount of editing you’ll need to do to fix white balance. Mother nature is great at representing colors in their true form — let her handle this one.

If you have a particularly dark room with not a lot of natural light going on, utilize a tripod (or get crafty and use a stack of books on a chair) to keep the camera steady and use a longer shutter time. This will allow the little light you do have to work hard for you brightening the space without looking shaky or blurry. You can then lighten it up even more after the fact with some basic editing and fool everyone into envying your tiny bathroom that is “bathed in light”. Lastly, don’t necessarily shy away from cloudy days! The natural light from cloudy days can soften things up nicely and by making your shutter speed slightly longer, you can still get lots of lovely light (although you’ll want to grab a tripod for this as well).

west elm guide to interior photography

See what we mean?

2. What’s Your Angle?

One word: GRIDS. Grids are your friend. Not only will your photos come out clean and looking intentional, you’ll avoid the dizzying effect of a photo taken at a wonky angle or odd height. That’s not to say angles of any sort should be avoided, but making sure the walls and furniture edges directly in front of the lens are at a 90 degree angle or on a horizontal will save you a lot of headache. Dramatic camera angles, while appreciated in other artistic pursuits, rarely end well when shooting interiors. This sometimes means getting on your knees and making yourself level with what you’re shooting — look at it as a great excuse to get those squats in!

Took a crooked photo? Don’t fret: photos can always be adjusted and rotated to align with a grid in post-shoot editing in Photoshop!

west elm guide to interior photography

3. Small Space? Try A Different Perspective

If you’ve ever tried to shoot small space to no avail, you might be thinking that you need that expensive wide angle camera lens to achieve such wizardry in your shoebox apartment. Think again! There’s a few tricks to getting the perfect interiors shot in even the smallest apartment.

First, and this might sound obvious but is oftentimes overlooked: move stuff!! It’s your home, after all. Huge coffee table obstructing your view of your nice new leather sofa? Scoot it on out — no one is going to miss it. This goes for what’s going on behind you as well. If you can’t get a wide enough shot of your space because there’s a huge console, houseplant, or even a wall in your way? Move the console! Move the plant! Tear down the wall! Okay, don’t do that last one. If it’s a wall that’s limiting your range: shoot through a doorway. This not only allows you to get a nice wide shot of the room in question, but also creates a super artsy effect with blurred edges that makes you look like you really know what you’re doing (and hey, by now you probably do).

west elm guide to interior photography

Pro tip: You can even use those houseplants in the way to your advantage! Using greenery to softly frame your photo can add even more depth and sense of space to your photos.

west elm guide to interior photography

4. Clutter Is Not Your Friend

Minimalism is having a moment right now but let’s face it: we don’t all live in a catalog no matter how hard we try, and you’re inevitably going to have clutter here and there. That ugly remote is actually pretty useful, it turns out. However, for all intents and purposes for interior photoshoots, you do indeed live in a miraculously clutter-free home. By moving objects and cords temporarily out of the way, your photos will look clean and styled. If nothing else, removing clutter while you’re shooting is way easier than trying to edit it out after the fact. Unplug that lamp cord (you won’t be needing it anyway, see tip no. 1!) and tuck it away, relocate that remote and banish any clutter to the closet until you’re done shooting.

west elm guide to interior photography

west elm guide to interior photography

5. It’s All In The Details

When shooting interiors, it’s easy to focus on the big picture and forget those glorious close-ups. You’re shooting a big room full of furniture after all. But close-ups can be a lovely way to show off your most prized possessions and give the reader some visual variety to keep it interesting and break things up.

For detail shots, you’ll want to use a smaller aperture value and adjust shutter speed accordingly. This will give you an oh-so lovely blurred edge and make that object stand out beautifully.

west elm guide to interior photography

Final note: Shoot your images in RAW format if your camera allows (this can be adjusted in the camera menu). This will keeps image files nice and big to give you more options in editing and will look crisp and professional when it takes up your whole computer screen. Plus, you can scale them up for prints in the future!

Want even more inspo?
Click here for hundreds of our past home tours and Design Crew projects for more beautifully shot interiors!

Get the Look

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


January 30, 2019

Well done!!
Each room has its own distinct character. Love the color choices.

Related Posts