It's not a bad way to start the morning commute with a jolly through the beautiful Peak District on route to an interior design shoot with Fiona Watkin in Cheshire. My limited motorway knowledge hadn't predicted that we would be taking such a scenic route to the north, as I began meandering my way past an abundance of beautiful scenery, rolling hills, and chocolate box towns (note to self get back there with the camera and bag some beautiful architectural photography shots soon).
Anyway enough rambling about the road infrastructure between Lincolnshire and Cheshire. As standard a quick walkthrough to take in all the rooms that we are looking to shoot - to pull together a game plan for today's interiors photography shoot. The 4 rooms in question all needed to be approached differently. From the light and bright open plan kitchen and dining room that would need little more than a set of brackets to the dark and moody living room which would require a ton of flash to help showcase the intricate lighting design of the space. As an interior photographer so much of what we do is simple problem solving and doing what we can to get the best of a space and often with the trickier spaces that can mean getting creative with a bit of flash or lots of it in some cases.
Starting with the snug the approach with this space was simple - supplement the light already in the space and punch in some fill to just lift some of the darker spots in the room. Whenever I am introducing flash into space my approach is always the same - try to make it look as natural as possible and avoid it looking flash heavy. By supplementing the natural light you won't end up with a tonne of shadows all going in different directions - which can have the viewer subconsciously questioning which light source is causing these strange shadows which contradict what they are seeing in the scene. The added benefit is that when you come to blend the flash and ambient layers it's a fairly easy gig.
The photography style for the kitchen didn't drift too far from a set of brackets. Always nice when a space has such an abundance of natural light and all it requires is for you to close a few blinds and flag a few spots of light - you can cover a huge amount of ground quite quickly which is always nice. Big fan of the dusky pink kitchen island - on paper I would have probably shook my head at such an idea but in real life I love the pop of colour that it brings to the space.
The kitchen was split into two sections by a supporting column which made shooting a little tricky. My approach with a space like this is to always include a slither of that column to visually explain the reasoning behind the composition and also so the viewer can understand the flow of the room. To crop it out and pretend it's not there I find leaves the viewer asking ‘why the hell didn't you step back and show me more of the kitchen, why crop it there?’ Or at least that's what I end up thinking. By introducing and including it you explain visually what is going on in the space and as a by-product it also helps frame up the important content of the image.
The hallway was a tricky one because the natural light in this area was minimal as the only light source was a couple of smallish windows on the front of the house. So time to punch up the ISO and see where that lands us. I don't think you should ever be too scared of punching up the ISO or really slowing down the shutter to try and tackle the darker spaces. Often I find it's this roll of the dice that brings some of the most interesting results - that and the noise reduction filters in camera raw can do some pretty amazing things these days.
The living room is a different kettle of fish all together. A space that comes alive in the evening and is all about settling down in this cozy, relaxing environment in front of the tv and fireplace. The lighting design for this space was pretty extensive and for the shots I wanted to capture how this design married perfectly with the feel of the space to further relax and unwind its occupants was key. This room needed a whole bunch of flash and more. The problem with just pushing the ISO or dragging the shutter with a room that has a bunch of tungsten light is that you end up with essentially a hot mess with some wild colours. The dynamic range in a space like this is vast, so you end up with spots that are nuclear and areas that are super dark - so you have to introduce flash to try and bridge that gap and control the tungsten light in the room whilst filling in and lifting some of the shadows.
Anyway enough rabbiting on and if you made it this far then congratulations - you are probably one of the very few and in great company with myself and my wife who has the unfortunate job of proofreading the waffle that I end up producing for these blog posts.