7 Essential Steps To Interior Architectural Photography, by Steven Brooke

In this instructional video, Steven Brooke delves into the complexities and techniques of architectural photography, with a focus on interior photography. He begins by addressing the inherent challenges in this field, noting that many photographers excel in outdoor settings but struggle with interior spaces. To assist photographers in this area, Brooke outlines an organized approach, emphasizing the need for preparation and a clear understanding of the unique aspects of interior photography.

Brooke’s methodology is detailed in several key steps. First, he stresses the importance of determining the best time of day for shooting, as light quality significantly impacts the ambiance and feel of interior spaces. He then moves on to the concept of finding the best geometry for a shot, advocating for starting with an axial view, especially in complex interiors. This helps identify a signature shot that encapsulates the essence of the space. Furthermore, he discusses the crucial aspect of eye height in photography, cautioning against positioning the camera too high to avoid distortion, particularly when using wide-angle lenses.

The video also covers the nuances of arranging elements within a space and controlling lighting. Brooke advises photographers to begin with larger items when arranging a room, gradually adding smaller accessories to create a compositionally balanced scene. He also highlights the importance of controlling the lighting, suggesting that photographers should turn on lights during daytime shoots and be mindful of the interplay between natural and artificial light. Checking focus and managing exposure are also critical steps in his process. He recommends using a smaller aperture for maximum depth of field and a wide bracket of exposures to ensure the best possible final image.

Brooke concludes by emphasizing the value of preparation and attention to detail in architectural photography, especially for interiors. He suggests that photographers equip themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills through resources like his ebook “Architectural Photography and Composition” and his online course on Udemy. These resources aim to provide photographers, whether beginners or seasoned professionals, with the tools and understanding needed to excel in the challenging yet rewarding field of interior architectural photography.


Hi everybody, it’s Steven Brook. Welcome to “Architectural Photography and Composition.” If you’re new to the channel, welcome. If you’ve been here before, we’ve discussed some of these issues, but I want to go over them in a more orderly way. Without a doubt, the most difficult thing we do as architectural photographers is to photograph interiors, whether it’s residential, commercial, or industrial. This is the most challenging aspect of our work, and frankly, I know a number of photographers who do well outside but struggle when they come inside. So, I want to give you an organized way to approach photographing interiors.

I’m sure you’ve had situations where you go in, and your client immediately starts discussing details like where to put books or whether flowers are needed, before you’ve even decided where to photograph from. I want to offer my approach to interiors, which I apply whether it’s residential, commercial, or industrial. Now, if you are completely new to interior design or don’t have much background, I recommend a book by my friend Stanley Abomi and Cheryl Wton titled “Interior Design and Decoration.” Any edition, whether it’s the fourth, fifth, or sixth, is really good and serves as a wonderful reference. It also helps you build vocabulary when discussing interiors with your clients.

We’ve looked at the work of Vermeer, Sram, and Edward Hopper, and what they offer us in planning and figuring out the kinds of compositions that work for interiors. Now, I’d like to give you my basic workflow for interiors. This is how I approach any of my work, and I do it the same way every time.

1. **Determine the Best Time of Day:** This is crucial. You might have a daytime shot with soft, indirect light or high contrast, direct light. For example, breakfast rooms, typically on the east side of a house, are photographed during the day or early morning. Nighttime shots require a lot of planning and care. You want to plan for what you want on the table, how the lighting will work, and so on.

2. **Determine the Best Geometry:** Start with the axial view, especially for complicated interiors. There’s usually one signature shot that shows as much as possible: the sighting, materials, play of light, etc. This signature shot is important, and then you work the rest of your documentation around that main shot, whether it’s residential, educational, or commercial. Use vertical elements to anchor a composition. Retail areas are typically dense, so an axial composition helps organize all that information.

3. **Determine the Best Eye Height:** Avoid placing the camera too high, as it can cause distortion, especially with wide-angle lenses. The rule is to place the camera no higher than necessary to adequately see the tops of tables and to separate key elements in the room. Start lower than you need and bring the camera up until everything locks into place.

4. **Arrange the Elements:** Do your largest items first, then figure out the smaller accessories. Everything is compositional, so treat each area as its own little still life. Be precise with fewer items, ensuring the negative space reads well. Start with foreground accessories and work your way back.

5. **Control the Lighting:** Turn the lights on for daylight shots and replace any burnout bulbs. Avoid candles during the day. Time your session to the available light. Be careful with bright lights close to the camera.

6. **Check the Focus:** Use a smaller aperture for maximum depth of field. Start focusing about a third of the way into the frame and use live view and a loop to check focus.

7. **Exposure:** Interior exposure requires care due to the wide contrast range. Plan to layer exposures if necessary. Use a wide bracket of exposures and pick out the ones that work in post-processing.

8. **Focus:** Double-check your focus after setting everything up and before taking your final shots.

In summary, determine the best time of day, find your signature shot and best eye height, arrange elements starting with the largest, control your lighting, check the focus, and carefully manage your exposure. These steps will guide you in capturing professional-quality interior photographs. Remember, documenting interiors is not easy and requires time and attention to detail.

For further learning, consider my ebook “Architectural Photography and Composition” or my online course on Udemy, which covers these topics in depth. These resources will equip you with the knowledge to produce professional-quality architectural photographs. Thank you for watching, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.