A Description of The Working Environment and Requirements For An Interior Photography Assignment

In order to help my client adjust and prepare for an interiors photography session, I will try to outline my working requirements and explain some of the techniques and processes I use in executing the photographs. Through this explanation, I hope to answer, in advance, questions which might come up during a shooting session. Client's understanding of my problems and my choice of solution will help the photography session go smoothly and produce superior results.

Pre-Planning

In advance of a scheduled shooting session it is my custom, if possible, to walk through the job with the client. At this time we can evaluate the desires of the client as well as note any requirements I might have to better prepare the areas for photography. Specifically, such items as decorative foliage, more desirable art, table settings, floral accents, repairs, etc., will be reviewed giving the necessary lead time for the client to provide them for the shooting day. This preliminary visit also allows me to consider the lighting problems I will encounter on the shoot and predict at what hour each shot should take place. If an advance visit is impossible, the client and I should discuss the job in detail. I will ask many questions about the job covering areas such as style, light quality and type, window direction and size and the general mood of each area to be photographed. Whether or not an area will be photographed during the day or night is of prime comcern to me. If I cannot do a preliminary walk through, my client must evaluate each space with these questions in mind.

Whether the job to be photographed is a private dwelling or a public space, the photography day is basically an "invasion of privacy" for the owner. My experience has trained me to be extremely careful on the job. I carry insurance which covers accidental damage to an owner's property but have never yet had to make a claim. More important, however, is the forewarning that this kind of photography is very time consuming. It takes between 3-4 hours to set up and expose each shot. In planning the logistics of the session, the owner should be consulted so that his/her activites at the location will be coordinated with ours and we won't be in each other's way. In the case of public spaces, either we must adjust to times of heavy use or the owner may adjust his/her schedule to ours. Naturally, it is easiest to work unhindered with no traffic in the area. Often, this requires shooting schedules that take place during hours establishments are closed.

In public spaces such as restaurants, stores, offices and the like, there should be liaison between me and the owner to facilitate control of lighting, movement of furniture and traffic control. Someone with the authority and knowledge to handle these elements should be present at the session. Often the designer or someone from his/her staff can cover this function. Occasionally, when no one from the design staff can be present at the shoot, I request a representative of the owner to help me with these arrangements.

The Following List Represents Some Of My Concerns During A Shoot:

1. Security clearance should be arranged for during and after business hours.

2. Air conditioning and/or ventilation systems should be in operation during the photo session. Such systems should be able to be turned off during film exposures to decrease the chance of camera vibration.

3. All areas to be photographed should be cleaned and dusted prior to photography.

4. All lighting fixtures should be properly functioning. Fluorescent light units should contain the same tube type.

5. Ceiling tiles should be in place with no broken or damaged tiles.

6. A ladder should be available.

7. Someone with knowledge of the electricial control system should be present during the shoot.

8. Bathrooms should be accessible.

The Shooting Session

A session normally begins with a brief walk-through during which the designer and I check each area we plan to photograph. Often this is the time final decisions are made about floral arrangements, plant placement, and any last minute changes in accessories. While we do this, my assistants will be unpacking the camera equipment and lights and storing the many cases in an area which won't be photographed. Once I have started to work on a shot, any diversion can only be detrimental and delay the completion of the photography. There is a period of 1-2 hours during which I must concentrate on many complex technical problems. The camera is quite unforgiving and will not deliver the expected results unless position, lighting, focus, shadow and duration of exposure are all carefully controlled. I expect the understanding and patience of my client at this crucial point until I am able to show the first test.

Digital  Image Capture has brought this kind of photography to new heights of excellence. Both the client and I can review the tests on my laptop’s screen and make the fine adjustments which slowly perfect the shot.

As I progress toward finalization of a shot, I go through a number of these tests to arrive at a final lighting balance. Once I’m satisfied with the setup I go on to the actual exposure process which may involve multiple captures and long exposure times. Images are often composed of several different takes which are later assembled into a final composite version of the scene. It’s important at this point that there be no distractions or traffic in the area of the shot. On certain floors, the slightest tremor will ruin the result. In the case of public spaces in use during the photography session, owner cooperation must be sought to control areas through which traffic normally flows. These must be blocked to allow time for each exposure.  I can break from time to time to allow people to pass, but I must be afforded reasonable periods to shoot. I always ask for absolute quite at this time so that I can focus on getting the shot recorded into the computer.

Interior photography on location is always a demanding assignment. I have attempted in this outline to specify my needs in terms broad enough to cover most situations. At the same time, I have tried to be as specific as possible so that my clients will be aware of the requirements and demands that may be made of them.