I love old houses, and to document the remodel of my own historic home, I started a blog. Every week I write one post, and most of the photos are house-based. So for this assignment, I wanted to focus on interior photography and architecture. It’s tricky to shoot interiors in natural light, but I know by practicing these three approaches for good photography, my eye will improve, and so will my shots.
Rule of thirds
This photo is a favorite—I love warm colors, large-scale art, and leopard print. But the way the photographer used the rule of thirds draws most of the attention to the painting and the chair. It’s an interesting choice because if you were to stand in this room, the saturated orange curtains, the beams, and the amazing windows would probably hog the spotlight (in fact, if you want to see more shots of this room, click here).
Because the painting and chair fall on the intersection of lines in the rule of thirds, they get the most attention in this image.
For my own photo, this coffee-table image places a tiny detail—a small bouquet of yellow mums—as the focal point based on rule of thirds.
I also like how the leather album’s embossing and word “photographs” become important details because of their proximity to an intersection in the grid. These small flowers would not be the focal point in the room if you walked in right now, but the flowers’ location in the photo demands attention. It is worth noting too that the plaid throw on the sofa offers a nice balance to the flowers, even though the blanket isn’t in focus.
This is one of the most beautiful houses I’ve seen, and the photo’s structure leads the eye up the stairs and to the landing (with all its beautiful flowers, books, millwork, and furniture).
That long vertical line also leads the eye into the adjacent room, and I know magazine photographers work hard to get shots with glimpses into other rooms. This image doesn’t simply offer a glimpse; it more or less draws your view right inside. Even the lines of the walls and ceiling point toward the room in the background (not to mention all those spindles on the railing!).
To be honest, using leading lines is the most difficult photo principle for me to shoot, but I tried to pay attention to the architectural details in our house and see how they direct my eye.
This image of our breakfast nook has lines leading directly toward my twins. The lines of the table, countertop, corner, and millwork help accomplish this.
Shallow depth of field
This image, posted on a site where photographers share their best work, focuses on a mailbox with something behind it. What is in the background—a fence? A house? There’s a little mystery built it.
Because the background subjects are out of focus, it feels almost like the mailbox is standing guard. The lovely rustiness is a nice touch and wouldn’t have been noticeable had everything been in focus.
I love playing with my aperture setting, and when I saw this mailbox outside a restored historic church in my neighborhood, I knew it would be fun to play with.
Wouldn’t this be a cute image for the church’s website, a perfect shot to run on the “contact” page? It works well because the address is easy to read, but the audience can also make out the building in the background. But because the building is blurry, the image doesn’t feel too busy.
The cool thing about interior and architectural photography is that by having a strategy in mind, you can really dictate where the audience focuses. In this way, the loudest object in the frame doesn’t have to be the focal point—unless you want it to be. These three strategies for shooting photography give the person behind the camera the ability to make the images “work” for him or her.