Monday, February 6, 2012

Composing Photos: The Peek Shot



This is my seventh post on the subject of composing photos of interiors.

I will tell you that each time I write one, I actually learn a quite a bit, but in this case, I was surprised by what I discovered.

You'll see why.


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This post is called the peek shot, because every photo I show you was taken outside of the room.

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Sometimes we see a door ajar.


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Other times the doorway helps to frame the shot.  And certainly that's the case above.

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But I was compiling these photos, I was completely surprised when I noticed that the subject of almost every single one of them is a bedroom or bathroom.

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Ask yourself why.  Why are these peek shots used for bedrooms and bathrooms?




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If you answered that bedrooms and bathrooms are the private or non-public parts of the house, then you and I are thinking the same way.
 

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When we visit other people's houses, we do not go walking into their bedroom and if we want to visit the bathroom, we must ask first.

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So I think this peek shot appeals to the inner voyeur.  The person who loves to sneak a peek into lit houses as they walk by at night.  The one who visits design blogs and consumes interior design magazines in order to see the insides of other people's houses.

You know, people like you and me.

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More important, the peek shot has the effect of placing you in the house, as if you are standing there looking into the room.  So it feels personal and intimate.  I wrote more about that here.

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Or I could reading too much into the peek shot.   Like so many of you pointed out here, perhaps the peek shot is photographed that way because there simply isn't enough space in the room and the photographer has no choice but stand outside it.


However, I was able to find a few other peek shots that didn't apply to the bedroom or bathroom.


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In the above three photos, one can just see the hint of the doorway or door, and I have to ask myself why.

They are all  from House Beautiful (correct me if I am wrong), where the styling, photography, and editing are top notch.  The doorway could have been easily cropped out, but it wasn't.  

Why do you think that is?  I have some ideas, but would love to hear from you too.  Will you shed some new light on the subject?

Oh, and one more thing.  I always feel the need to say that I am NOT a professional photographer.  You need only look at my own photos for that to be totally obvious.   Just trying to learn what I can in order to take better pictures with my point-and-shoot.

24 comments:

  1. What a marvelous (subject for a) post! I will have to go back and visit the other posts on this subject. I found it quite interesting! Thank you so much for sharing... such a great job! Have a wonderful Monday.

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  2. Very insightful observations, as usual. Another thing I notice about many of these pictures is that they are not "perfectly" staged--just a bit messy--which adds to the intimacy/privacy you noted.

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  3. Timely post since I'm going to be shooting my son's room this week. I will definitely have a peek shot in the mix;)

    And from my observation, all the doors that are shown are unique-looking--barn door, dutch, curtains, that awesome "women" door, cool hardware, etc. I'm sure if it was a builder-grade hollow core one, it would have been cropped.

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  4. That green A symmetrical bathroom sink has me doing a happy dance!

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  5. Great job, again! Love this series! My first thought on "why peek shots" was a very practical one- spacing/size of rooms,etc. The whole privacy thing makes much more sense, but maybe the practical reason applies to peek shots of public rooms. Maybe the layout and lighting and size of the room are such that the best shot is through a doorway.

    ps. Always love how you post pictures with a wide range of styles.

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  6. I love the peek shot! I, too, was thinking about the practical part -- too tight to get into many bathrooms -- but I like the privacy / intimate idea. Makes so much sense for bedrooms and bathrooms in particular!

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  7. I'm not sure what the thought process was behind not cropping the door, but I like it. It also works if the room is small and you simply cannot get a good picture from inside the room.

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  8. I think it is part of the staging process. The viewer is given a glimpse only which allows for imagination and perhaps the desire to linger on the image as you create the completed visual in your mind.
    Or maybe as René says....space did not allow for a quality full shot. The first feels much more aesthetic though and I think I will stick with that.

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  9. I think it's because most of these rooms are small and the photographer needs to be outside the room to get more in the shot.

    Or, in my case, the peek-a-boo shot is because all the crap is hiding behind the door.

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  10. So true - in both cases! I love the little peek...initially I thought it was b/c it was private areas, but then I thought of my own bathroom in particular and it is definitely too small to get a good shot without the door!

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  11. I have always thought that it leaves you wanting to see more of the space. In most magazines, the peak shot is the first photo of the article. You then see more of the space/home in the following pages. Camille I can go on and on about how much I love these segments you post about photography!

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  12. Heather, I will never be able to read another magazine again without checking for peek shots in the first photo! So smart.
    Camille

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  13. I never would have noticed this before now. Great post! Love the shot of the table and director's chairs! So pretty.

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  14. I just recently began reading your blog, and I must tell you that I am really enjoying this photography posts. Thank you for sharing what you are learning - I'm hoping this will help me improve my photography for my own blog!

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  15. I was thinking that it is more the practical reason - bathrooms are too small, but that wouldn't make sense for bedrooms. I also think that by just having a peek shot, it allows us 'creative' types to start imagining all the possibilities!! But, I admit it is such a tease....

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  16. I had never thought of the peak shot before. I think you're exactly right that it appeals to our inner vouyer. Thanks so much for your photography posts as I am learning so much from them. Thank you for your sweet comment today as well - it made my day!

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  17. I love these photography posts - I learn so much! I usually crop out the doorframe in my pics where I had no choice but to set up the camera outside the room in order to get the shot at all, but maybe I should consider the lighting in the space outside the room to include that doorframe in the future.

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  18. what a great post! I know when I shoot a space like this its because I simply cant get what I want in the shot with the space available. ha. Have no idea their reasoning's but that's mine!

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  19. another great post. I have taken photos of my powder room from outside because it's so small. I tried to keep the door out of it (I clearly don't know what I'm doing). I might go back and try doing a peek shot they look so much more inviting and real.

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  20. I LOVE these posts of yours! I feel like I learn something every time! I too am just trying to do my best with my point and shoot! I wish I could afford to hire someone with all these secrets sometimes but it's still fun to learn on my own :) Keep em coming!
    Kelle
    xoxo

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  21. So much to think about! I hadn't ever really condsidered this in such depth. Initially I thought it must be practical, because the rooms were too small to stand in and get a good shot, but now I feel like the reason these shots are so appealing (and they really are) is because they contain that mystery. The door is an invitation to come in and see more...

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  22. Well...now that I am living in a small house where I practically have to move through the house sideways at times...tight quarters. I notice that when I shoot my house and other spaces, I think it's because of size or lack of space that makes me step outside the space to get more. I do love the feel of these photos though as you have so eloquently described. It makes us feel like we are getting a better look at something that we might have otherwise missed out on. Oh...and I love to go for walks after dusk when everyone is home and lights are on, it's my inner voyeurism.

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  23. Interesting thought. I think it might be partly the tight quarters, but I think you are on to something with the sneaking a peak theory.

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I enjoy reading every comment.