The challenges commercial photography for interiors are distilling elements of a design within a commercial space into photos telling the story of the space, and working with the light to give the final photo a natural feel.
My clients for these shoots are marketing directors and graphic design studios. We discuss the project’s design intent and make a detailed shot list. The photos show the spaces, the materiality, the spatial relationships. I also look for pertinent details of the project.
I have been shooting for interior architecture firms and design studios in San Francisco and Los Angeles for years. These photos are used for competition entries, social media marketing, advertisements and website portfolios.
Two recent projects in San Francisco make great case studies. Lizette Marie Bruckstein, a San Francisco interior designer, created a hip lounge feel to what could have been another formal downtown SF law firm. The designer’s use of reclaimed materials and posh elements give a high/low material component, the dark gray palette gives a fresh hipness and the jolt of color in the nicely repetitive use of art photography lends a big wow factor. Lizette shifted expectations in what a commercial interior can be, a trend we also see in the tech interiors of Silicon Valley.
Technically, the photos were captured at different exposures and even separate exposures for the art to reduce glare on the glazing. Multiple pictures of the same space were layered together in an elaborate Photoshop process. Further Photoshop adjustments corrected color variations, very precise cropping was executed and lots of removals of alarms, lights and plugs. The photos of this commercial interior on California Street are clean, punchy and hip, just the same elements that make this design firm known for greatness.
Another high rise project in San Francisco’s downtown area was created by the award winning architecture firm EHDD. The architect, Lisa Wai, created a simple modern environment for a public housing developer. The intent here was to create a fresh commercial interior within a tight budget that reflected thoughtfulness and a timeless modernist design. In this interior architecture project a couple of pure ideas were expressed with perfect proportions and detailing. The details do matter.
Technically, the photos for EHDD required the careful use of very wide angle lens to get it “all in”. Distortion can make interior photos feel unnatural. We can reduce this issue with care in composition and adjustments in post-processing. To make the photos feel more natural, the right spot to frame the photo is important to find, thus minimizing the distortion inherent in the wide angle lens. One photo required a great deal of Photoshop work to remove and clean up some areas. As always, good post-processing work should never be seen and that is the case in this commercial interior too. The details matter in the finished photography just as in the finished design.