Tips On Framing Interior Photography Shots By Scott Hargis

I was just sent a fantastic video by architectural photographer Scott Hargis. In the video Scott talks about framing a shot, something that I struggle with at every interior shoot I've ever had. It's very temping to shoot ultra wide so that you can see more of the room but as Scott points out, when you do you also loose the feeling of that room. Once you check out the video below head over to Scott's website to see what a great photographer is capable of.

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this was a great lesson. 

sharon cooper's picture


The dead on perspective is so nice with the countertop edges coming right into the lens!


Great info for folks learning to shoot interiors.

I long for the day when people learn to use the word "lose" in place of the word "loose".

Adam McAteer's picture

Great video, are all the shots Natural light?  Also what sort of F/stop do you generally use?

No, those shots where lit with available (original room lighting) + natural (windows) + flash.
Photographer did quite a nice job on mixing / balancing all of those light sources.

When using such wide angles (17mm, 20mm, 24mm) you don't need to stop down you aperture a lot, since at wide angle DOF is already quite large.

Definitely some great tips! I never shot any interior photos, but I'm quite curious to see how Scott (or any other interior photographer for that matter) decides whether to shoot with ambient light or to add additional lighting. If I'm not mistaken, the only photo in this video which uses extra lighting was the bedroom shot in the beginning. Would also be interesting to see what kind of setup is used if using additional lighting, in order to get even illumination throughout the scene.

Actually, Malcolm, Scott uses flash very skillfully. Take a look at the dining shot with the kitchen, foyer, and living rooms in the background. Look at the lighting during his explanation and walkthrough, and then compare it with the still shot at the end. The lighting has changed almost dramatically, yet it takes a trained eye to see the added flash lighting without that back-and-forth comparison available. 

The most obvious flash addition in that shot is in the foyer. It's slightly brighter than I think i would have used, and it's bouncing into the corner of the walls and ceiling nearest the living room. Personally I probably would have gone with one light in that exact position at 1/2 the power he used, and then another bouncing into the wall/ceiling corner just into the hidden hallway (the side away from the camera to avoid unwanted shadows & highlights cast into the dining area ceiling) at the same power for a more blended feel. But that's the only nit-pick difference I can even think of here. 

Now look in the background kitchen area in the final dining area still shot. There is a flash bouncing in the same sort of wall/ceiling corner (Scott's signature approach to softening flash in interiors) on camera left. Note how the ceiling above the cabinets is slightly brighter on the left than on the right, and that this light is cooler than the existing ambient was. It's just a touch to massage the levels where he wants them. If he turned the ambient down with the camera exposure and turned up the flash it would be more obvious (and resemble much of the professional real estate lighting that is used today, as people get more excited about using strobist-style flash and forget that the flash isn't the subject of the photo). 

Finally look at the same pattern in the dining area. Brighter at the top left than further into the shot. 

The flash is there, but it's just a kiss, not a sledge. :) 

I like how Scott uses just enough flash to mix well with the ambient yet still allow views from the windows. I was desperately hoping for an extra 5 minutes of video about lighting. It's like going to get an ice cream and being given just the cone :).  Stobes, flash heads, gels.. how????

CrustyJuggler - First of all, that's the best username I've seen in a while! 

Secondly, note my reply to Malcolm Debono above which details a bit about Scott's approach to lighting, and then buy Scott's excellent ebook on the subject of lighting for real estate photography. He also has a video training series, but I haven't tried it out yet. 

Very informative. Would be great to see how he lit the room. :)

Let's Go DSLR's picture

What I really like about this is that it's not something I might ever have to do, but just the way he thinks about the shots is very interesting and can probably be applied to more than just commercial interior photography.

A lot more interesting than I thought it would be.

Peter Dowell's picture

Interesting, but the filmed shots were not straight, or composed as well as the still shots which annoyed me intensely as it distracted me from the point he was trying to put across (partly due to the crop/aspect ratio)!

Would have been nice to see how he lit the scenes, but my thought is he probably just used bounce flash off of the wall behind the camera judging by the quality of light and shadows (or lack of). Thought the bedroom scene came off a little cold compared to the video WB, which was a little uninviting.

Overall, the composition is absolutely fantastic in all the images, and I found it quite informative in that respect :)

It's great advise, and you could also use any of the tips and mix em up with what you know in other photographic techniques. Awesome bro.

Scott is a genius with interiors...great video