Setting up for an interior photograph

A friend has just secured his first interiors photo shoot job. It is scheduled for a weeks from now. So he is researching, and asking me lots of questions about the basics of how to do it. He is a great photographer in his own field (commercial and street art photography), but this is a different kettle of fish!

While talking to him about the location shoot, and post editing, it occurred to me that it would be a lot more beneficial for him to spend extra time on location capturing the best possible images in camera than spending this time on the computer editing the images. I would say that 10 minutes extra on location might save him about 30 minutes of editing time.

I hadn't thought a lot about this in my own work schedule before, but now I am analysing them to see if I can save time and improve my work flow process.

So this post is meant to be an informative one about what I do to set up just to get one photograph of an interior. This will also serve as a check list for myself to refer back to on my next job.


**Arrive at the location at least 15 minutes before the arranged time. (Your clients time is important.) **


1. Check with the client for their views or ideas about the space.

2. Walk thru the location to get an understanding of how people move in the space and get a feel for it.

3. Turn on all the lights in the space.

4. Find a view point that gives the best composition. (Look thru the viewfinder of the camera.)

5. Choose the lens / focal length that is the best to capture this scene.

6. Set up the tripod. Make sure it is perfectly level.

7. Attach the camera, trigger cable and flash, or remote flash trigger on top of the camera.

8. Set the ISO, aperture and speed to give an even exposure through out the whole room. Or if there are a lot of windows or dominant windows in the frame adjust the exposure for how you want the windows to look.

9. Add your lighting to the space. Look for dark areas or areas/features you wish to highlight. Adjust the power of the lights so to have a balanced amount of fill/feature lighting. It should look close to natural, to what the space looks like in reality.

10. Delete all the test shots you have just taken.

11. Take one more shot to make sure you are completely happy with what you are capturing. (If the camera is tethered to a laptop check the image on the laptop screen, or remove the card from the camera and upload the image to a computer to view it.)

12. Once you are happy take a shot with a white (or grey), or colour grading card, placed in the middle of the shot. This will give you the ideal white / colour balance reference when editing these images.

13. And finally take the photo(s)!


I haven't mentioned what exactly I am doing with my focal lengths and settings in camera in this post. I plan to cover these details in a later post.

An additional tip for you is to have all your equipment partially set up before you arrive at the location. e.g. batteries charged, tripod mount on camera, trigger on camera, laptop in sleep mode, etc.