When it comes to photography, getting a good shot is much harder that it seems. And when you’re trying to take photos of your rugs and interiors, it gets even trickier. From lighting to composition, there are all sorts of variables that come into play when taking a photo—but worry not! We’ve tapped interiors photographer extraordinaire Amy Bartlam to give us the download on taking the best photos of your rugs and interiors. Keep reading to hear all her words of wisdom, and don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @rugs_usa once you get the perfect shot!
Styling and Prep Tips
Setting up your shot is nearly just as important as actually taking photos of your rugs and interiors. Amy says to focus on sprucing up your space—but not to make it too perfect. “There’s a fine line between lived-in and messy—think about preparing your space as you might if you were having friends over,” she says. Here’s what else she suggests!
Tuck away wires and clutter. Wires—especially around TVs hung on the wall—can be unsightly in photographs. Try to temporarily tuck those up if you can, and put away clutter like tissue boxes, remotes, and anything extra lying around that isn’t part of the decor.
Add a little life and personality with fresh flowers and personal touches. “Keep some personal components around like magazines and shoes that make a space uniquely yours—just make sure they’re tidy!” Amy says.
Don’t forget about your rugs! Smooth out creases or tangled piles, straighten tassels, and do a quick vacuum. You want to make sure your rug is looking its very best!
Lighting Tips for Taking Photos of Rugs
Good lighting is key to any photograph you take. This is how Amy ensures every shot has the right kind of light.
Avoid multiple light sources. “I would avoid turning on lamps and can or recessed lights where possible,” Amy says. “Multiple light sources can be visually confusing and hard to balance.”
Lean on natural light, and see how it changes throughout the day. “Natural light is your friend,” Amy says. “Start by observing your spaces at different times of day and see how the light changes. It may be subtle, but it all makes a difference through the lens.
Some rooms may look best with direct light. For example, an east-facing room may benefit from morning light coming in and creating a pattern of dappled light on the ground, or it may be better when the sun has moved to the south, higher in the sky and away from the windows so that the light is more even throughout the room.”
Take a look through the lens. “Remember to look at the light through your camera too—it can often read differently from how your eyes see it,” Amy says.
And if your space doesn’t get good natural light, Amy recommends “focusing on vignettes rather than full-room shots and experimenting with editing apps. You can add a lot of light with the exposure or brightness settings.” (Keep reading for more tips on editing!)
Interior and Rug Photography Tips
Now it’s time to take some photos of your rugs and interiors! Here’s what Amy has to say about going behind the lens.
Don’t shy away from shooting with a phone. With the right lighting, composition, and editing, you can easily take an amazing photo with an iPhone or other smartphone. And, Amy says, “phone cameras are great and getting better all the time!”
Follow the rule of thirds. This is a type of photography composition where an image is divided evenly into thirds horizontally and vertically, creating a grid of nine squares. To create an image that feels pleasing to the eye, the subject matter should sit at the intersection of these lines or along one of the lines themselves.
If you’re using a phone, turn on the grid in settings. “This will not only help you compose your shot using the rule of thirds, but you can also use the lines to assist you in keeping your shot level, too,” Amy says. “This is one of the biggest things that will make your photos look more professional—keeping your horizontal lines straight and your upright lines parallel.”
Zoom in slightly if you’re on a phone to avoid distortion. “Phones often default to a super-wide setting, which makes for distorted, fisheye images,” Amy says.
Shoot at the right height and an even angle. “Rooms are best shot from somewhere between chest and waist height—basically how you would observe a room if you were seated rather than standing,” Amy says. “So try holding your phone at chest height, or for more control, kneel and shoot at eye level. Remember to shoot straight-on, not angled up or down, which will create distortion.”
And finally: Have fun and don’t be afraid to try something new! “Be creative! It’s easy to get frustrated when a shot doesn’t come out how you imagined, but keep trying, experiment with different angles, step back and use doorways to frame your shot, move your furniture around, and mix up your styling,” Amy says.
Editing Tips for Interior Photography
You don’t have to get photos of your rugs and interiors 100% perfect and ready to post as soon as you snap the pic. Enter editing apps, which are key in adjusting brightness, cropping, and addressing any other issues you have while shooting.
Amy says the editing tools installed on your phone are great to work with, but that VSCO is great for adding filters and has comprehensive editing capabilities. “If you’re new to editing, try just tweaking exposure, contrast, and sharpness first—those make a really big difference. VSCO also has a good white balance tool that’s great for adjusting a photo that looks too warm or cool,” Amy says.
For more advanced users, she suggests giving Snapseed a download. “My favorite tool is the ‘selective’ tool, which allows you to adjust specific areas of an image.”