My immediate thought is to reply:
“Don’t you know all the work that is involved in making one photo?
Doesn’t everyone know this? ”
After a bit of reflection, I realize maybe they do not know the ins and out of organizing an interior photo shoot. Just as I would know nothing about their roles.
This is not a ploy by them to get us to finish as quickly as possible. At least I hope it is not, but a genuine interest from their part so they can assist us in having a trouble free and smooth shoot. The reason we are there is to create value for them.
As the experts in our fields, it is our responsibility to educate our prospective and current clients.
So, we come back to the key question: “How long does it take to take one photo?”
The simple answer is that it depends on several factors:
- How experienced is the photographer?
- What location/space are we shooting?
- How well prepared the space is?
- Do we need to include talent in some photos?
Assuming all the above are equal and we have already scouted for our compositions and the best light. Here are the steps we take in capturing the actual frames for the finished image:
- Set up all the gear. We take 99.9% of all photos on a tripod. The reason being we need to composite together many frames to make the finished image. The number of frames can vary between 2 and 50 frames and even the slightest camera movement can create problems. Then there’re the lights, modifiers, light flags, etc
- Dial in the composition. This is where our natural talent comes in, finding the best angles for the space. This normally entails pushing the tripod up against a wall, squeezed into a corner, or perched over a toilet (At least you have somewhere to sit while setting things up). Then the fine adjustments to make sure verticals and horizontals are straight.
- Check camera settings. With more experience, the faster this is. You know what the settings should be for the space and light. It is still a good idea to double-check to make sure you are capturing everything needed int he shadows and highlights.
- Check the focus. One of the most important steps. Check the focus in live view or on your tethered device. Make sure everything you want in focus is tack sharp.
- Stage the scene. Now we need to make sure the scene is perfect for the composition. This could be as simple as fluffing up some through cushions to rearranging all the furniture. I have shot some hotel ballrooms where we set up the camera in the empty space and then arrange all the tables with the composition in mind. This is a lot easier than trying to move fully set banquet tables around the hall.
- Check the focus again. We check the focus again to make sure we have not nudged it slightly.
- Capture all the ambient light frames. Here we will capture a bracket of between 2 and 7 frames with small exposure intervals. This is to make sure we have all the details we need in the shadows and highlights. When checking these frames on your tethered device you will probably notice a vase needs to be moved or a fork is not straight, so it is back to number 5.
- Capture all the artificial light frames. Artificial light frames are used to enhance the natural light source, bring out details, correct colors, and correct any problem areas. This comes with experience, as you need to know exactly how much light, where to place the lights, and which way the light falls best across the area being lit.
- If there is any talent to be included in the finished photo, we shoot them now. We shoot the talent last, as there is a good chance that something will be moved as people walk about. We know exactly where we want the talent to be a what they should be doing.
- And finally, check the focus on the images again. There is nothing worse than getting back to the studio and discovering that all the frames are out of focus as something moved the focus ring during the shooting. This can be quite an embarrassing conversation to have with the client.
As you can tell, this process can take anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour. And that is an answer to our original question.
This is the first in a series of articles I will be publishing on the process of architecture and interiors photography. The goal is to help people better understand what an interiors photographer goes through to make each photo. As well highlighting the value we are putting into each photo.
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Are you looking for a photographer for a commercial or residential space? For a hotel? You know you need the photographs. But you have so many burning questions. What is the process involved in hiring a photographer? How long will you need to shoot? What kind of specialized photographer do I need? How much is it going to cost? And the two most important questions:
Will the photographer understand what we are trying to solve and will they be able to help us achieve this? Are they the right photographer for us? If you need an answer to any of these questions. Or want an informal chat about an upcoming project. I am quite happy to jump on a 30 minute Zoom call with you. Click on the button to the left and it will take you to my calender, where you can book a call.
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