Often when photographing real estate, there are specific priority aspects within a scene that demand more attention than others – this can typically make it tough to work around other objects in front of the camera.
One of the most consistent request from our real estate clientele is to include the windows in the shot. Sometimes, this pushes the camera into an awkward position amongst the furniture in the room – specifically chairs and the backs of chairs.
Why move chairs more than other furniture?
1. Chairs Resemble People. When images include empty chairs, it’s easy to replace chairs with a person. We instinctively as viewers project the human figure onto objects. Sometimes our clients prefer chairs in certain areas because it shows how you could potentially be there instead (think chairs at a kitchen island, or a chair next to a fireplace or entertainment center).
2. Uninviting. When we see the back of a chair, in our mind, it’s easy to read it as if someone had their back to us. This can block us out of a scene and leave us with nowhere to enter. Typically, our real estate clients prefer a shot that captures a clear footprint of the room (think space), if there is a barrier created by a chair back, it can be tough to see what’s on the other side.
3. Easy to Move. Unlike other larger and more delicate pieces of furniture, chairs are typically more simple in design and easier to move.
For this example, our client wanted to show how both spaces relate. In addition, they also wanted both windows in the shot. Because of a wall behind us, we are left with positioning the camera here. In the Before photo, note the 4 chairs surrounding the circular table to the right. We are clearly blocked by the back of one chair in particular (right corner of the image). Since, it’s in the foreground, it’s tough to fully enter the image, leaving the space feeling claustrophobic and tight. In the After photo, the photographer has circulated all of the chairs about a 1’ counter-clockwise. Thus throwing the main chair off at an angle, and reducing the back of the chair. The chair in the bottom right corner now creates a line that leads the viewers eye into the room. Note, this may not look great in person, though in camera the room will appear to be more naturalistic and balanced.
- For this example, our client wanted to show both windows. In addition, they also wanted us to shoot away from the kitchen (behind the camera), in order to make the living room feel separate, and like its own space. The requests limit us with where we place the camera. In the Before photo, note the 2 chairs on the left. Both chairs easily fill the space and come close to the camera. When furniture is close to the lens, the room can instantly feel cramped and awkward. In addition, notice how we can’t even see the second chair. So it’s not necessarily adding to the photo, yet taking away valuable space. In the After photo, the photographer has taken the closer chair away. This creates more negative space, leaving the room feeling more open and larger. The chair has also been angled slightly more towards us, thus more inviting.
- In this example you can see the difference moving two chairs can make. This angle is all about showing the flow from one room into the other. In the before picture we can barely see the living room beyond the chairs. In the after photo we’ve removed one chair and angled another so it is in profile and takes up less space in the shot. Even though this makes the arrangement of chairs asymmetrical the photo is improved.
It takes a lot of experience to be able to walk into a space and know what needs to be moved to improve the shot. When you are starting out it is important to take you time, try many options, and review them in the camera to see which configuration of furniture is best. I hope this tutorial has been helpful.