Take Great Cell Phone Photos Part 4

Real Estate Edition

Composition – Kitchens and Living/Family Rooms

In this part of our series we’re moving on to Kitchens and Family Rooms/Living Rooms.


Kitchens take some thought into how you will compose the images. For example, is there an island or an eat-up bar? Is it a galley kitchen or more of an open plan? Is the dining room adjacent to the kitchen or across a hallway? Each of these situations requires a different approach to photograph. You have to ask yourself “what does the viewer need to know about this space?” and then decide how to shoot it.

Let’s start by discussing how to prep a kitchen for photography. First and foremost is to declutter. Remove as much as possible from countertops, leaving only a couple of items that a household would normally have. Perhaps a coffee maker and a toaster oven. A vase with flowers or a bowl of fruit is always a nice touch as well. You want to show a lot of available counter space. A cluttered counter looks small. Next, be sure to remove all the refrigerator magnets, children’s art, etc., a clean refrigerator looks much better in pictures than one that is filled with paraphernalia. Lastly, make sure all the surfaces are clean and streak-free.

Typically you will want to raise your camera a few inches higher than in other rooms when shooting a kitchen. It is considered bad form to show the bottom side of the wall cabinets unless they are higher than normal. They usually are not pleasing to look at, and frequently have lighting and cords under them that you don’t want to show.

The first kitchen has everything I told you to avoid in your photos. The refrigerator is filled with magnets and pictures. The counter is terribly cluttered, the trash can is in view just beyond the low counter, the bag hanging on the tall pantry. While this kitchen may actually be clean, it gives the appearance that it isn’t. This is just not an inviting kitchen.

The next photo is what we want to see. There is no clutter on the counters. The photo is also a good example of a one-point perspective, which we talked about in the bedroom article. Galley kitchens lend themselves well for a one-point perspective. The last photo is from a different angle showing the cooktop and oven. Kitchens frequently need several angles photographed to properly feature all the amenities.

You will also notice the refrigerator and oven both look wider than normal. That is because of the wide-angle lens and their proximity to the camera. That is unavoidable in some situations. A wide-angle lens naturally causes some distortion of items that are close to the camera.

These are the last two photos we will be looking at regarding kitchens. In the first photo, the camera is raised enough to look over the high bar and see the table beyond in the nook. The last photo is from the view of the nook, looking back into the kitchen. From here we can, by the presence of the barstool, see that it is an eat-up bar, we can also see the laundry room in the back left and the dining room on the right. These two photos provide a lot of information to the viewer.

Living Rooms / Family Rooms

We’re moving right along. This next section on living rooms also applies to other common areas such as game rooms, home theatres, and dining rooms. The concepts might also apply to a home office, but I would typically treat that more like a bedroom.

The photos above were both taken from the entry of the house. The first one shows the office on the left side and the fireplace, however, the column blocks any view of the breakfast nook and we have no idea there is a dining room on the right. The next image was taken from the same general location, I just move the camera left a couple of feet. It shows the dining room, kitchen, and breakfast nook and the column is only blocking a bare wall. This is a much better composition.

For this next shot, I moved into the dining room and aimed back into the living room. In this picture you can see the office and tile floor of the entry. You can see where the entrance to the master suite is located in relation to the room. You also have a nice view of the fireplace and built-in shelving around it. With the view over the sofa, you can imagine yourself sitting in this room with a roaring fire and a good book. The reverse angle shot doesn’t give us any new information other than a little better view of the breakfast nook. If we didn’t have the picture from the entry this one would be of more value.

From Slider
Look at the size of those candles

This photo was taken from in front of the sliding glass door. It shows the relation of the room to the entry and dining room, which is good. The bad though is the candles on the table take up the center of the image and look out of place. This would have been a much better shot if I would have moved the armchair and taken it from the corner of the room. That would have still shown the entry and dining room in relation to the living room and by being in the corner I could have panned left, showing the breakfast nook and the eat-up bar in the kitchen all in one shot. Unfortunately, I didn’t take that shot, so I can’t show how it would look.

One of the tricks to getting good composition is to look through the eyes of the camera rather than relying on how you view the room. When you walk into a room your eyes naturally shift from side to side scanning the whole area. The camera cannot do that. It only shows what it can see from it’s position, so look at what it sees and decide if you need to reposition it before taking the photo. You can see in the examples above that shifting the composition just a little bit can give you a much better photo. Take your time and think about what information can be gathered from each photo.

Next time we will be moving onto exterior photos.

If you decide that taking your own Real Estate Photos is not for you, and you’re in the Hernando, Citrus or N. Pasco County area, contact me and we can discuss your needs.