Three Ways to Photograph or Create a Website For Your Interior Design Work (Part 1 of 3)
The good news is that you have many options available to you to both photograph your work and beautifully present it on a website to a wider audience than ever before.
The bad news is that you probably have too many choices, and not nearly enough time in the day to do what you do best...which is interior design!
Every business and entrepreneur is different. Whether you want to outsource your interior design photography and/or website design needs or more vertically integrate these efforts, this article explores some considerations in either situation, and offers some (hopefully) helpful suggestions.
Buy Your Own Photography Equipment
Interior designers often outsource their photography needs to professional real estate photographers, such as Matthew D'Alto Photography & Design. But there may be instances where it makes more sense for interior designers to vertically integrate the advertising effort and take photographs on their own. Below is a checklist of some things you will need to buy and how much they may cost before you can start to create photographs worthy of your interior design work:
You will probably need to spend a minimum of ~$3,000 up-front to buy a newer and higher-quality DSLR camera, two decent camera lenses (minimum), a tripod, external flash and lighting accessories, camera and flash batteries, and flash storage. If you really want to make an investment in more professional-grade equipment and other accessories, this can easily run 2-4 times as much in terms of your required capital.
You will want a high megapixel camera (i.e., an iPhone won't cut it) in order to maximize the quality and pixel content of every image, even when the photo is cropped. This will ensure that your photos show best on any media and in virtually any size.
The camera you buy should also have an effective and wider ISO range for low-light and shadowy room situations. When I say "effective," I mean that not all cameras will do a good job at capturing shadows even at higher ISOs, so you end up with a lot of "grain" in those areas. Be sure to do your homework and research how the camera will perform in such situations, particularly if you are photographing rooms without as much available light.
Your camera should be capable of remotely controlling external flash and lighting set ups, if needed. Proper on-camera speedlight flash techniques often will do many jobs just fine, but you want to be prepared for those situations where you may need more room light balance to get the precise output you want in the photo.
You will also want both a super-wide angle camera lens (e.g., capable of 20mm or less), as well as a short-range wide-angle zoom lens (say 20-70mm). For interior design photography, I personally prefer high quality zoom lens to prime (fixed) focal lengths, since you never know how much space you will have to play with in a given room. A zoom lens can capture more or less of the room when your feet run out of floor space to move around.
In addition to money, you will also need to spend the time to learn how to use the equipment. Even if you could read the camera book from beginning to end in one day, you will not yet know how to use your camera to its fullest capabilities, as different situations will require different settings. Simply put, you cannot expedite and compensate for that which requires experience. That said, after some trial and error with your new equipment, you will gain an increasing appreciation for how camera and lighting settings can change the outcome of your interior design photography. It is impossible to assess a price tag on your time and patience quota for figuring out what work best in every interior design photography job -- only you can do that!
You will need a good desktop computer with an above-average monitor and graphics processing power. With professional cameras come larger photo file sizes. Do not skimp on your desktop computer and don't try to get away with doing all of your post-processing work with a tablet. If you do, you will take longer to load and edit your photos, and with a tablet, will will miss important details and your eyes will quickly tire from looking at the smaller screen. Time is money, and this is not the place to cut corners. Also, never completely trust what you see on that little LCD screen on your camera. You will need a bigger monitor screen to zoom in so you can properly see and edit the image when you get back to your office or home. At a minimum, you want to make sure you can see and eliminate lens dust, photo "noise", or other random issues in the photos. For those that are interested, I use and recommend a 27" iMac from Apple.
You will also need to invest in professional-grade photo post-processing and organizational software. No matter how good you get at photographing your interior design work, you will need some sort of regular post-processing capability and skill to make a good photo great. In my opinion, the best choice is also the standard in the industry, namely Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Adobe offers this software suite for ~$120/year via a Photography subscription plan. Again, you will also need to invest many days of the year to get up the learning and efficiency curves with these software applications as well, especially if you have never used them in the past. For what it's worth, I have tried other options available out there to try to save money, and didn't realize what I was missing until I switched to Adobe. I haven't looked back.
I view the above factors as the bare minimum of what you need to think about if you are considering vertically integrating your photography needs in your interior design business. There are obviously other considerations you will want to review for your specific situation in order to decide whether vertical integration or outsourcing of your interior design photography makes the most sense for your business.
is a Norwalk, Connecticut-based photographer and website designer that provides full-service photography and website design for small businesses and entrepreneurs within the greater Connecticut and New York markets.
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