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  • Writer's pictureHolly Catherall

5 Differences between Property Photography and Interior Photography

You may be wondering, is there really a difference between property photography and interior photography, and how is that relevant to us? The short answer is yes, and let me tell you why. As with all niches of photography, the "why" of it informs every creative choice. Who are the photographs for? What is their purpose? What is the desired effect?

The answers to these questions will massively differ for a wedding photographer and a product photographer for example. Even within one niche, like property or interiors, if these answers differ, the creative choices will differ. And that brings us to the subject of this post: what are the differences between property (real estate for our American pals) photography and interior photography?

(Want to know why hiring a property photographer is worth its weight in gold? Click here to read the 5 benefits of hiring a professional property photographer!)

female figure shaped glass in interior design studio

1. Purpose

Within interior photography, there are many factors informing the way a photographer shoots. It is crucial to consider the purpose of the final images. Is the purpose to sell a home? To market a service/design/product? To form part of a portfolio? To advertise for small or commercial businesses? This is where the first major difference arises. The purpose of property photography is to sell or rent a home. The photographer's job is to accurately represent the space while showcasing the home in the best possible light. Among these wide-angle images, lifestyle shots may be included to capture unique features and evoke emotion in the potential buyer. The aim is to get potential buyers through the door for viewings. This generally (hopefully) means, the images will have a shorter lifespan. They may only be online for a few days or weeks.

In interior photography, the purpose depends on the client. For example, the purpose of the images may be to showcase the skill, creativity, and ingenuity of an interior designer for use across their website and other marketing channels. Commercial spaces such as bars or restaurants may want their images to represent their core values and to paint a picture of the experience of dining there. Product designers may want lifestyle product shots to show detail and craftsmanship and share ideas of how to style such items. The list goes on, but hopefully, you get the idea. Purpose informs style.

large open plan dining room with art above fireplace

2. Client

Closely linked to the purpose of the images is considering who are the images for. This covers both who the photographer's client is and who the client's client is. In property, generally, the photographer's client will be the estate agency or the developer and their client will be those interested in buying a property. This is pretty cut and dried. But there is nuance in the way an agent markets to buyers.

How agents market to first-time buyers, buy-to-let investors, HMO managers, etc. will differ and may inform the focus of the photos. For example, a family of 5 looking to buy their 'forever home' may be more interested in features such as an original fireplace, a big, open entranceway, bright bay windows, high ceilings, or original features whereas a HMO manager may be more concerned with the number of bedrooms and the overall condition of the property rather than any specific feature.

Interior photography generally offers more variety in clientele and can be used by a number of niches within interiors from interior designers and stylists, kitchen designers, architects, painters, influencers, etc. each with their own specific target audience.

small wood fire in old cottage house

3. Focus

Now, we've covered the purpose and the client, the next big difference between property and interior photography is the focus of the image. What is the viewer's attention being drawn to and what story is being told in an image?

In property photography, the focus is generally geared toward showcasing size, layout, condition, and features. You might not think there is a story being told in property photography but every image will communicate a story, even on a subconscious level. For example, a 4-bed family home in the country will have a very different audience and impact than a studio apartment in the middle of the city. Within the property itself, it is essential to make sure the focus is on the desirable aspects of the property. We don't want the overflowing laundry basket to pull focus, we want the beautiful bay window pouring glorious light into the spacious master bedroom to be the takeaway (if you want to know more about How to Prepare Your Home for a Photoshoot, read my tips here!)

In interior photography, the focus will be geared towards an idea or creativity rather than a physical space (even in architecture!). This might include the design, styling, craft, product, etc. These images can communicate the personal story of the creator, the brand values, or a desirable lifestyle.

coffee bar with lamp and plants

4. Detail

Attention to detail is crucial for both property and interior photography, but the type of detail being considered is different. The photographer needs to think about style, angle, lens, lighting, composition, colour, the list goes on.

In property, the answer to these questions is fairly consistent. A wide-angle lens, positioning the camera to maximize the space, and switching all lights on (agents usually prefer this) are musts. During a property shoot your photographer will immediately know the best angles, composition, and lighting for a given property. The photographer will have a mental list of the best angles and information they want to include in an image, and roughly how many images will be needed. That is not to say in property there is no care for the details, more that there is an efficient process to be followed.

As a general rule, interior (and architectural) photography tends to adopt more of an editorial style. Natural light wins out over artificial light (unless you're literally advertising lighting fixtures...) and there is more freedom to experiment creatively with composition, angles, and lenses. Interior photography tends to favour quality over quantity, perhaps spending more time dressing and setting the scene before shooting. Depending on how the images will be used, the actual quality and resolution will need to be considered. The images are often multifunctional, being used across websites, socials, print, and even billboards, and tend to have more longevity, so quality is key!

clock and candle holders in an interior design studio

5. Time

Finally, we come to the difference in time. Due to the fast-paced nature of the property market, efficiency is key. Property shoots tend to be shorter, ranging between 30 to 90 minutes depending on the size of the property. A photographer will have multiple shoots a day so doing the job well, and efficiently is the aim. This is why preparing your home before the shoot will make the photographer's life 1000x easier!

Interior photography will usually take much longer, ranging from a few hours to a whole day shoot. It takes longer to set up, and may require multiple scenes that need to be dressed. This also allows room for experimentation and trying different lighting set-ups too and is a great way to let the creativity flow for the photographer and the client.



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