Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I was a teacher for a little over a decade. One thing I learned is that you have to be exposed to the same information over and over again before you start to remember it and begin to integrate it into your own thinking.
In that vein, I was thrilled to see that Bryn of Bryn Alexandra had stumbled across a real estate listing for a house which was recently photographed for the House Beautiful article "Jazz it Up!".
Because it is the perfect illustration of so much of what I've been writing about in my series, Composing Photos of Interiors. Be warned though. This is a lot of info to take in at one time. You can see it broken down into smaller, easier to understand bits by clicking on the link for the series.
So, here is the compare and contrast of the real estate and House Beautiful photos.
real estate photo
- The picture is taken at a wide angle so that the focal point almost becomes the corner of the room.
- Lights are on.
- Homeowners things (cookbooks etc.) appear to be left in place.
- No styling on the table.
- Stools are centered on table legs.
House Beautiful photo
- Photo is taken close to the subject at a 90 degree angle.
- Lights are off and the exposure makes it look as if blinding light is coming through the windows reflected in the mirror.
- The styling brings movement of the eye to the photo. The eye moves in a C pattern from the pendant light to the vase of flowers, which is placed off center, to the stools. Notice that the stools have not been centered around the table legs. So overall, a bit of asymmetry has been introduced.
- The homeower's cookbooks have been moved to the left of the photo which counterbalances the wooden bowl on the right. This reinforces symmetry, yet not in a rigid, identical way.
- A story is being told with the styling: Everyone is about to sit down to lemonade in the kitchen.
real estate photo
- Again, the photo is taken at a wide angle so that we see the corner of the room.
- Photo is taken at the height of the photographer's head as evidenced by the amount of table top we can see.
- We see a large expanse of the ceiling and the light is on.
- Chairs are perfectly tucked into the table. We see the back of the chair closest to us.
- No styling on the table top.
House Beautiful photo
- The photo is taken low -- almost as if the photographer, and by proxy you, is sitting enjoying a view of the room.
- This is a tight shot taken close to the dining room table. We do not get a full view of the chairs, and curiously, not of the mirrors either. Nor do we see the left window which is shedding natural light into the room. The light is off.
- The chair closest to us has been pulled out and angled slightly so that we can see the pedestal of the table. Also notice that there are five chairs in this shot, not the eight we see in the above photo.
- Obviously, the table has been styled. The flower arrangement does sit dead center, which is unusual in styled photos of round tables. I think that is because the table has been arranged to tell a specific story. What is the story?
It should be noted that the real estate photos are not unprofessional. They simply serve a very different function. The real estate photos are taken at a wide angle to show the potential buyer as much of the room as possible. The lights are left on to show where they are located, etc.
However, I'm not sure that the real estate photos flatter or highlight the work of the designer
in the best possible way.
If you were Lindsey Coral Harper, the interior designer responsible for this amazing work, which photos would you use for your portfolio?
How about you? Are you highlighting your work in the best possible way? Goodness knows that I am not, and I may never take a picture again for fear that I'll disappoint you!
A huge thanks to Steve of An Urban Cottage and Traci of Traci Zeller Designs, who have generously directed their readers for these kinds of posts.