For a while, interior photography was my day job, for a lettings agent. I worked in central London, carting my gear around in the top box of my motorbike and trying not to get my muddy boots on people’s cream-coloured carpets. My gear was minimal – dSLR, 18-22mm lens, on-camera flash and a remote shutter control. No room for a tripod, annoyingly – but we do what we can, with what we have.
Interiors were not a path of photography I would have chosen – my attention to detail is sketchy at best, and the awkward nature of shooting in someone else’s home was sometimes tricky.
However, it presented a new set of challenges: how to adequately light a room without looking unnatural; how to make tiny spaces look larger; how not to get caught in the reflections of a bathroom mirror (to this day, I grimace at bathrooms that have mirrors on every wall for just this reason). Getting the white balance correct, often with multiple light sources, was also a hurdle to overcome – as was avoiding blowing out the windows. It was during this time that the mantra “shoot for the highlights” was most useful – it’s surprising how much detail you can pull out of the shadows in Lightroom afterwards. Correcting the verticals also vastly improves most interior shots, and shooting from the corner of a room to avoid a boring square space.
I worked in tiny, cramped studio flats as well as in beautiful open-plan apartments, and was tasked with making even a normal family home look appealing and fresh. A lot of the magic happens beforehand, of course – having a tidy, clean environment is just as important, if not more, than getting the shot technically correct. A couple of times, I walked into a flat where every surface was covered in rubbish – it was character-building to know when to say “sorry, I can’t shoot this” and come back later.
I worked alone, taking breaks as I went (and discovering that London has painfully few places to go to the loo without buying a coffee) and doing my post-processing at home or back in the office. It was tiring work, but I did feel as if my photography was improving. I took fewer photos for myself during this time though, my photo energy all used up during the week. I know now that I wouldn’t enjoy doing this full-time – not enough social interaction, too much biking in the rain and cold. I’m happy to keep photography as something that I do for enjoyment, and personal improvement, rather than money – which is just as well…