Pro Tips: Interior Photos Intrigue With People
Draw viewers in by showing the soul of a space and how it's really used, with people and pets in your interior shots
It's a tough call: Do you include people in your interior or architectural photos or let the space speak for itself? Photographer Beccy Smart says to do a little of both. "After you've captured the design and architecture, including a shot of the homeowner is perfectly fine — but be sure that you're doing so for a particular reason," she advises. Here are a few situations when showing the homeowner or featuring a model helps interior photographs.
1. To show how the space is used. This eclectic London Victorian home office is enlivened by the presence of its homeowners. They're demonstrating how they can both use the space to suit their different needs.
Many would never think to use this corner room — clad in stain-showing white furnishings — as a lounging area for a new mom and child. But as we can see, the residents of this modern farmhouse in Bridgehampton, New York, don't care too much about spit-up stains; they're too busy enjoying each other's company.
2. To highlight architectural details. It's one thing to read about how light "floods the space" through a well-appointed window, but it's another thing to see the light in action. Here we see how the skylight in this minimalist, modern house in São Paulo, Brazil, acts as a natural task light in this working kitchen. It would be hard to see just how significant the skylight is to the space if the homeowner weren't in the picture.
In the same way, the importance and placement of the dormer windows in this boy's room in Wimbledon, England, is captured perfectly by this image: The windows enable the child to feel connected to the outside without ever leaving his room. They also let light in for comic book reading without any lamps, a boon in light-hungry England.
3. To infuse a space with energy. "Nobody wants to see a picture of an empty restaurant, bar or lounge," says photographer Michael Kelley. Kelley welcomes the addition of warm bodies and smiling faces to avoid a "postapocalyptic feeling," as he calls it, in spaces that are meant to have people in them.
This rooftop patio in Mexico is breathtaking with or without people. But imagine what the photo would look like if the guests weren't congregated in the different conversation areas. It would be strange to see the space without people, especially since the patio is called the "margarita lounge." The cluster of people in the space is absolutely fitting.
The architects of this outdoor patio had warm summer nights and s'mores in mind when they designed this Texas fire pit, so it's only fitting that the kids are in the picture — just as we expect them to be.
4. To emphasize a design theme. The rope-wrapped balusters, oversize jar and organic rug elegantly portray the global contemporary design of this home. We already get the feeling that the homeowners have been around the world and want their home to reflect their travels. In this case, the kaftan-clad homeowner is really the icing on the cake.
5. To show how people move through the space. "By putting a person moving through the space in the photo, you break up large expanses of space and show the different ways that people navigate through the room. You fill up the space without losing the open feel," says Kelley. This Ohio home's industrial kitchen is the heart of the open-plan home. We can see how the kids maximize the open plan and run through the different areas with ease.
6. To give the home a soul. According to photographer Erika Bierman, all homes have a soul. When a family member or pet is featured in the image, something happens: The mood shifts, and what was once a static photo suddenly has movement and soul. "Just this year I photographed two homes where the family members were included. Both times, a publication picked up the homes for features, noting the images with people as the ones that initially drew them in," says Bierman.
The child in this image adds a flash of neon to the neutral space and shows how the sectional can be used as a place to read magazines — or as the perfect assist for a cruising toddler.
A perfectly staged house serves a purpose, especially if you're looking at it from the perspective of a buyer. But including a person in the picture gives viewers a chance to empathize. The model or homeowner causes the person looking at the image to say to herself, "That could be me."
Ideabook published on June 25, 2012.
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