Interior photography deals with the insides of buildings. Interior photographs
sometimes involve people, but their primary purpose is to convey the design and layout of a space. We'll talk about how to shoot interior spaces and what sorts of techniques are effective.
Photographing interiors is about understanding how space is used. While most architecture students will learn about how to effectively lay out space visually in their first year of school, it can be more difficult for image-makers like you to initially understand these concepts.
At heart, we are trying to convey something of the aesthetic concept of a space in our
photographs. This may be difficult in a sterile office building, but I believe there is something to be said photographically in any environment. What to "say" with your photo will need some combination of light, perspective, exposure, and composition.
It might help to think of this sort of photography as interior landscape. While you're not going to photograph too many sunsets over the ocean indoors, many of the concepts in thinking about and setting up your shot are the same. The point of this section is not to come away with a full understanding of interior photography, but instead to have a starting point for how to view interior spaces, and how to improve your skills in photographing them.
The equipment to take a picture of an office is remarkably similar to that needed to photograph a gold necklace. Your primary piece of equipment after your camera is again, a tripod. Working inside usually means working with very little light. So, to be able to capture a clean exposure (low ISO), that is sharp from front to back, can mean exposures that are a few seconds long.
Another consideration for shooting indoors is a wide angle lens adapter. This is an additional lens that screws on the front of your normal lens and makes it wider, allowing you more coverage in your picture. When working in cramped spaces, having an extra-wide lens can allow you to capture interiors that you otherwise wouldn't be able to photograph at all. These adapters come at the expense of increased distortion.
Visiting the interior you're going to shoot before you actually shoot it is a smart idea. While interiors remain more consistent than exteriors in terms of lighting, the light coming in through windows can play a large role in determining when is best to shoot. This light also helps to determine what sort of combination of interior and exterior lighting you will use to photograph the scene.
The location you shoot may also change throughout the day. While a dining room may be dressed up for the shoot without any time constraints, an office environment is a different story. Shooting in an office can be difficult because of employees walking around, and you may want to schedule the shoot for the early morning or late evening when you'll have the office to yourself.
It's helpful to take a couple snapshots of the interior you'll photograph to refresh your memory when figuring out how you want to approach the shoot.
In photography, there are no set formulas for what makes a good picture. If there was, photography wouldn't be the challenging and creative field that it is (though I guess it would be easier). Instead, there are some general guidelines in interior photography, some basic rules of composition, that will help you begin to take good pictures indoors.
The first choice to make is about the lens you're going to use (if shooting with a DSLR), or whether you're going to zoom in or out (if shooting with a point-and-shoot). The wide angle of most lenses has some distortion (meaning it tends to slightly curve vertical lines). Distortion is not a good thing, but it's the compromise made for getting more coverage. It may take some additional scouting around and looking at the scene through different focal lengths
(zooming in and out) before you get a real sense of what's going to work best for you.
Let's talk now briefly about actual composition. The most obvious and clear composition is symmetry. That means you're attempting to balance everything in the picture, usually from side to side, meaning that if you split the photo down the middle, the two halves would be (more or less) mirror images of each other. Symmetry can be a powerful tool and show a simple elegance in an interior, yet it also can also look bland and uninteresting if the subject isn't striking.
Another classic composition form is using strong diagonals, usually starting towards the bottom of the photo and leading you into the scene. This is a common, but dynamic compositional technique which can be seen in the symmetrical photos above and is akin to photographing railroad tracks, that appear to converge at the horizon. When composing shots like this, it will be very noticeable if the picture is slightly tilted to one side or the other, so pay attention!