How to: Interior Photography. Include people in your shots to add movement

Welcome to the first in my How To: Interior Photography series, which I will be developing to help improve your interior photography over the coming months with little weekly tips.

Often interior photography can look quite bland and stark, especially if you are having to photograph something which is new build or isn’t yet open to the public. One of the themes which I like to run through my work to counteract this is to introduce people in order to add a sense of energy and movement to the shot or subliminally lead the viewer’s eye to a certain section of an image, in effect creating a leading line using the motion of the person.

I really like to use slow shutter speeds for this to add the motion. Something around 1/15th of a second adds a nice amount of blur so that the person isn’t somebody effectively just standing in your photograph like a statue.

Unless you’ve got the steady hands of an army sniper, this means that you’ll need to pop your camera on a tripod and, depending on the light levels, may even need to add neutral density filters in order to use a lower shutter speed. I use the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest 100mm series of filters but – like many bits of photography equipment – it’s a personal choice. I have tried the Lee filter system and own a number of their filters but have found no benefit for the extra price involved.

For example, the below image of Suburban Green, a restaurant in Wilmslow, uses the motion of somebody walking up the stairs to transform the image on the left, which is perfectly fine but draws your eye to the opposite end of the restaurant. By contrast, the image on the right draws the viewer’s eyes up to the top of the stairs as you naturally follow the path of the person. When used in a series of images, techniques like this can be great for walking people around the interior of a building and linking it all together.

Another great thing this brings, especially to home or social environments, is a sense of the area looking lived in and fit for purpose. For an area which is designed solely for human use, it makes sense to include a human in that photo.

The below image of Pret a Manger highlights this by using a member of staff. Even if you had no prior knowledge of Pret a Manger before seeing the image, you would instantly get some kind of idea that they serve coffee, without it dominating what is predominately an interior photograph.

As a final point, if you’re looking to show the size of a building or space, then adding a person or even a pet (everybody know how big a Labrador is for example), is a great way to show the scale of the space and also adds a point of interest which will make your images stand out.

If you enjoyed the first of my “how to” series and want to read more then please sign up to receive weekly tips directly to your inbox.

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