Home interior photography no longer belongs to real estate companies and home designers. Discover the intricacies of shooting home interiors with tips from these six pros.

In the past decade, interior photography has taken on new life. While it was once the sole domain of traditional real estate companies or magazines, it’s fair to say the genre has now become more democratic. People from all walks of life turn to Pinterest boards for inspiration in creating the homes of their dreams, and Instagram has evolved into the new frontier, with up-and-coming designers racking up hundreds of thousands of followers.

With so much new talent arriving on the scene, the old rules of interior photography need not apply. We reached out to six innovative photographers to get their tips for shooting images that are fresh, exciting, or even quirky. You’ll see that their styles are all different—in some cases, they might disagree on the best lighting techniques—but they do share a taste for the adventurous and the unexpected. Read on to learn how you too can create unique interiors that stand out from the crowd. And for even more tips? Download the Shutterstock Contributor Success Guide in your language.

1. “If the space has a unique layout, embrace it.”

Valerie Wilcox

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Embrace Unique Features

Image by Valerie Wilcox. Gear: Canon 5D Mark II, camera, 24-70mm lens. Settings: Exposure 0.5 sec; f6.3; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This space was designed by the artist Holly Wheatcroft to reflect her colorful and creative personality. Instead of splurging on expensive wall art or custom rugs, she used her talent and a couple buckets of paint to create the same feel.

I love this interior for the original and creative floor plan and the bold use of color. The white glossy kitchen juts out into the colorful dining room and living space. The kitchen’s bar counter allows you to look through to the living wall on the other side. The floor was painted pink to balance the bright blue wall.

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Make Colors Pop

Image by Valerie Wilcox.

Pro Tip

If the space has a unique layout, embrace it. Use picture windows and half walls to frame something on the other side. Capture parts of each room in the same image to create a story of the space. Layering will help create depth and spatial awareness. Wherever there’s color, make it pop against something neutral, and balance it in the photograph by adding accents and props with the same colors.

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2. “I always use natural light, never a flash.”

Rebecca Martyn

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Make Use of Natural Light

Image by Rebecca Martyn. Gear: Nikon D3s camera, Nikon 50mm 1,8 lens. Settings: Focal length 50mm; meter mode 5; f8; ISO 250.

What’s the story behind this photo?

My stylist Anna Bjelkholm and I went to Gotland in Sweden and visited this lovely renovated Swedish home. They had renovated an old assembly house with love, and most of the home was decorated in black and white. The house had a pleasant feeling with old furniture and lovely surroundings. This photograph is from the master bedroom. It’s calm, and it has the colors of nature. We feel that the photo stands out because it just gives you that feeling of perfection.

Pictured: [1] Rebecca Martyn [2] Rebecca Martyn

Pro Tip

I always use natural light, never a flash. It’s the best way to capture the feeling of the room. The colors and the light from the window will give the image the contrast that it needs. When I work with interiors, I always work with a stylist. We complement each other so we get it just right. We don’t refurnish; instead, we use the interior that’s in the image in front of us. Maybe we add something or remove something small, but we always let the style of the person who lives there shine through.

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3. “Step up on a high stool, or look from below to find different perspectives.”

Karen Culp

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Try New Perspectives

Image by Karen Culp. Gear: Canon EOS 6D camera, Canon 17mm Tilt Shift lens. Settings: Exposure 1/13 sec; f11; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

I was tasked with photographing a newly renovated penthouse condo for an architecture firm. Three condos were combined into one, and the original kitchen was expanded and got a dramatic upgrade. The idea was to capture the upscale look, clean modern lines, fine craftsmanship, and beautiful details. I love this shot because the angle emphasizes the warmth and openness of the space and makes it feel huge.

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Notice Small Details

Image by Karen Culp.

Pro Tip

Before your shoot, scout the entire space to see if anything unique catches your eye. Notice corners, textures, light, and shadows. Step up on a high stool, or look from below to find different perspectives. Sometimes the first thing that strikes you becomes your winning shot.

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4. “Creating that perfect picture or shot is decided in a split second.”

Marjon Hoogervorst

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Look for Possibilities

Image by Marjon Hoogervorst. Gear: PhaseOne P30+ camera, Schneider 35mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/80 sec; f5.6; ISO 400.

What’s the story behind this photo?

Anne de Jongh, the woman you see in this picture, is a great designer, currently working for one of the best designers from the Netherlands: Piet Boon. Together with her husband and two cats, she lives in the center of Amsterdam in a lovely, tiny, minimalistic apartment filled with treasures, designs, and cool fashion. The apartment really shows who they are, and I love all their designs and inspirations.

In this picture, she steps from the roof terrace into her cozy bedroom under the roof (you can see the old wooden beams). In the left-hand corner, you see her bed with its crisp white sheets. Amsterdam is quite expensive for young designers, so you choose relatively small living with creative solutions. I love the interaction and the space. The cat was looking at her like, “What is she doing?!”

Pictured: [1] Marjon Hoogervorst [2] Marjon Hoogervorst [3] Marjon Hoogervorst

Pro Tip

As a photographer, I prefer to stay as close as possible to the person whose interior I photograph—not literally, of course. The different elements of their lives, their characters, and their personalities are key for me, and I want to see that and to be able to translate it into a picture. Photography is all about energy and light, so I always try to find that particular energy and stay close to it.

In terms of styling, I only remove things that distract, or maybe I’ll move some pieces for better compositions. For bigger productions for brands, I mostly work with stylists. You have to train your eyes and mind to see all the possibilities you have to make that unique and original interior shot. Creating that perfect picture or shot is decided in a split second. Don’t only look, but also see things.

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5. “Look for what makes the space personal and focus on it.”

Malin Cropper

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Focus on the Personal

Image by Malin Cropper. Gear: Canon EOS-1D X camera, Canon EF24-70mm lens. Settings: Focal length 70mm; exposure 1 sec; f6.3; ISO 200.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This picture is from a photo shoot of my home that I did with one of my best friends Britta Henley, who is also a great stylist. We gathered a lot of odd things that I like, which I think makes the image personal. There are quite a lot of things in this image, and at the same time, the image is pretty tight. I wanted the things in the foreground to be sharp, so I chose a bit more depth of field than you might usually use for a still life.

Pictured: [1] Malin Cropper [2] Malin Cropper [3] Malin Cropper

Pro Tip:

Look for what makes the space personal and focus on it. Work with the composition of the image like a still life. Don’t forget the surfaces where there is nothing; they are also important for the composition of the image. Don’t think about how an interior image “should” look; instead, trust yourself and how you feel about the space. Try different camera angles. Sometimes, the angles that seem odd are the ones that make the image stand out. Experiment with depth of field, as it can change the feel of the image.

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6. “Choose your shooting angles well.”

Heitor Pergher

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Choose Your Angles Well

Image by Heitor Pergher. Gear: Nikon D600 camera, Nikkor 18.0-35.0mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Settings: Focal length 18mm; exposure 0.5 sec; f11; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This is a shot from a modern farm kitchen in Brazil. I wanted to show the beautiful stone sink and the rustic wooden cabinets. I also combined flash exposures with ambient light to be able to show the exteriors and not have color-casted walls inside.

Pro Tip

Get an ultra wide-angle lens. You will not be able to shoot a small room or bathroom with only an 18mm (for a cropped camera) or 24mm (for a full-frame camera). You will need something around 10mm for smaller sensors and at least 16mm for full-frame cameras. Get a good tripod as well. Preferably, buy one with a level so you can be sure that your camera is straight. This will help you to avoid crooked photos, which are especially terrible in interior photography.

Learn How to Shoot Unique Interiors with These Tips from 6 Pros — Choose Your Equipment Carefully

Image by Heitor Pergher.

Make multiple exposures. You will need ambient light exposures combined with flash-lit ones. This is a rather complex process that you can learn by researching good YouTube tutorials, like the ones you can find on my channel. You may be tempted not to use a flash; however, when only ambient light is used, sunshine can be reflected on the walls of the environment, giving the feeling that the room is multicolored. You don’t want that! Always have a flash with you for interior photography.

Choose your shooting angles well. You want to convey, in the best possible way, the experience someone will have when entering the environment. The natural tendency is to photograph from eye level to represent the vision that the person would have from inside the room; however, if you do this, you will create converging lines in your image. The ideal technique is to photograph, more or less, from the height of your waist.

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Top image by Karen Culp.