Congrats, you’re a rare breed. By seeking out tips on becoming better at office photography, you join a small minority of people who have figured out that there is something that is quite different about this brand of photography.
What makes ‘Office Photography’ different?
Talking broadly about ‘photography’ can be deceptive, because there is really no general ‘photography’ in any real sense. Instead, there are different subsets of it that make up the larger whole, we refer to as photography. When you take a picture of a mountain range, for example, you are not engaging in the same sort of photography as you are when you are snapping a family portrait.
Sure, there are some fundamentals, like the rule of thirds, which generally apply across the board, but the subtle differences are what really determine the quality of the shot you take in each context.
Knowing this, we can say that office photography is a subset of interior photography. Which focuses on shooting designed interior architectures.
The elements that determine the quality of photos you can produce in this subset of photography are what we will be outlining in this article. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to craft your office shots in such a way that they stand out from the average office shots you see online.
Let’s get started.
The Fundamentals Of Office Photography
Take one step back, but not two
Going for a slightly wider shot without going too wide allows the shot to show enough, without showing everything. This allows the mind to fill in the blanks just enough to make the shot interesting.
Imagine what this photo would look like if you could see a wider shot of it.
Would it be better or worse?
Realistic lighting is your friend
The only thing that reduces the quality of an office image more than a lack of good lighting, is the very poor realism that that lighting has. I’m sure you’ve seen many photos that you could tell were blasted by artificial light. What did that make you think of the quality of the photo? Probably not good.
To achieve a realistic look, you should be aiming to use as much natural lighting as possible, and only as a last resort use some additional lighting to supplement your natural light.
When using additional lighting, you should do it using either small flash units or large strobes. You can also use a combination of both.
An example of good lighting can be seen below.
All the interior is a stage
One thing you absolutely have to be willing to do to get great office shots, is stage the items and the furniture within the shot properly. An office shot is a design whose purpose is to perfectly capture the message that the architect and/or interior designers wanted to send when they created their designs.
A good way to make sure you are correctly staging your interior is to first start with some history. Find out as much about the interior designer (or anyone who was responsible for the design) as you can. And find out what they intended with their design.
Once you’ve done that, follow these basic heuristics for ordering the items in your photo:
- Make sure that items and furniture are appropriately spaced. Don’t let there be clutter anywhere in the photo. But at the same time don’t space too much. Use examples of good office photography online to get an idea of what good spacing looks like. Some great examples can be found here: Office Snapshots
- Move items around until they achieve ‘balance’. Basically what this means is that you make the shot symmetrical by putting things in proper alignment with other things. This, in itself, is a relatively complex topic, but more can be found on this here: 10 Top Photography Composition Rules
- Don’t be afraid to add, or subtract items that help you move towards your goal of capturing the designer’s vision.
Below is an example of a nicely composited office shot.
Waist level with a tripod is where it’s at
If you take your shots standing up, you’ll be looking down most of the time. This will give a perspective that distorts your final output. A better position to be taking the shots from is at waist level.
It’s also useful to be using a tripod when taking office shots. This is because a tripod allows you to ensure stability so that you can get a better, more level photo. Which is more important in office photography than it is in many other subsets of photography.
Imagine what the difference might be in this shot if the ‘leveling‘ was of by a few degrees.
Would it make it the shot better or worse?
There is rarely perfection before editing
One thing that tends to discourage beginner photographers who are just getting started is the erroneous belief that they should be taking perfect shots as soon as they snap their DSLR. And that the pro’s they see on 500px, get their amazing shots through a mystical sort of alchemy not available to mere mortals like them. All with no editing involved.
Luckily, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the vast majority of those great photo’s you see have been edited quite a bit. Using tools such as high-quality filters and actions to help work more efficiently.
Keep this in mind when taking your shots. Try to make them as perfect as possible while you’re taking them, for sure. And the fundamentals above will help you do that better. But bear in mind that you likely won’t get the level of quality you want until you get to the editing table. These days, your laptop.
Introduce yourself to the world of Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets via the FilterGrade YouTube channel.
I hope the above tips give you a foundation that you can build on to take amazing office photos.
If you have some of your own that you’d like to share or believe that I’ve left anything out here. Please let me know in the comments!
Bio: Tapha is a web developer & entrepreneur, with an interest in office photography. He blogs about minimal office spaces & office accessories at TinyOfficeist. He is also the Founder of SmallFarmPlans.
Want to know more? Say hi to him on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/TaphaNgum