6 Pro Tips for Taking Better Photos of Your Digs
New Orleans Reno host Holly Baker demonstrates how your place can be picture-perfect.
Holly Baker has a knack for rescuing older homes—and, once they’re renovated, putting their freshest faces forward.
"Photography and capturing life the way it looks in my head is one of my biggest passions," she says.
So, how do you give a space TPC (Tender Photographic Care), a la the way Holly does in the projects seen in her new HGTV show New Orleans Reno? Whether you’re trying to wow social media followers or potential renters or buyers, Holly’s got some musts.
Be sure to take at least one full-scale exterior shot that maximizes curb appeal.
“If your house has beautiful landscaping be sure to include it, and likewise, feel free to do a tighter shot if there is something less appealing in close proximity to the house,” Holly says. (This is not your day to shine, next-door neighbors’ recycling bins.) “For a full-scale shot I always like to shoot facing dead on to create nice straight lines. I also prefer shooting slightly upward to create a sense of grandness.”
Aim for unusual angles.
A straight-on shot is perfect for Holly’s portrait of her Bywater renovation in that first photo, but details call for a different approach. “Horizontal and vertical photos create nice square lines that appeal to the eye, but sometimes you need to get creative to best show off a feature of the home! Rows of columns, windows or corbels can be hard to capture straight on, and shooting at an angle can really maximize their impact.”
Consider where (and when) natural light is most flattering.
“It sounds counterintuitive,” Holly says, “but it can actually be harder to shoot rooms with direct sunlight! When light is coming straight in through a window, you often end up overexposing the window area to compensate for darker areas of the room.”
Think about your space in terms of cardinal directions: “The easiest rooms to shoot are north-facing because there is never direct light, just a nice backlit glow. If you have east-facing windows, shoot later in the day once the sun isn’t as strong, and likewise, shoot west-facing rooms early in the day,” she says.
South-facing rooms aren’t impossible, but you do have to get a bit crafty with them: “You might need to time it for a perfectly overcast day, or for a cloud to block the sun for a moment to get the perfect shot, depending on the room.”
Don’t be afraid to stage your space a bit.
This shot demonstrates Holly’s knack for making a space look cozy rather than chaotic. “A house should feel inviting and welcoming in photos, but never too lived-in,” she says. “Too many personal touches like photos or unique art can distract from what you want the photo to capture. Interior photography tries to capture a lifestyle, not just a pretty room!”
You don’t have to steam-clean your furniture and make your bed with hospital corners, mind you. “You know you’ve done it right if you barely notice [the staging].”
Play musical chairs (or tables).
“Capturing multiple rooms at once can be challenging, but angling the shot can create connections between rooms,” Holly says. (Those connections allow your viewer to feel the flow between one area and another.) “Slightly shifting furniture just for the shot is often necessary to ‘cheat’ the room, and to reduce interference in the shot.”
What works for you and what works for the shot aren’t necessarily the same thing. “This might mean pushing things further back or closer together depending on the room, but don’t be shy about shifting things slightly to get the shot! Shooting horizontally allows you to cover more area as well.”
That’s why they call it "landscape," no?
It’s all in the details (and how they interact).
“Detail shots or vignettes are some of my favorite things to shoot because you can get creative!" Holly says. "Don’t worry as much about straight lines for these shots, but focus more on what’s in the shot. Visually, our eyes like seeing groups of three so oftentimes you will see that many things in a vignette.”
This is where you get to experiment: “Varying the height of the objects also creates more interest and dimension,” she says. “Now is also a fun time to play with the aperture setting on your camera [or your filters, if you’re shooting with a cameraphone] to choose a focal point and create a blurred effect on the background so the viewer’s eye knows where to land."
Ready for more of Holly’s know-how? The first episode of New Orleans Reno, ‘Bywater Beauty,’ premieres at noon ET on Saturday, Jan. 28.