Capturing the best design elements of your home, like this cabinet and wreath feature, is all about lighting and angles.

Have you ever noticed that when you take a photograph of your space… many times what your eye sees….

….doesn’t always translate?

(total aside: there’s a life lesson in there somewhere if we weren’t talking photography today).

When I first started taking pictures for the blog….I would style the room and be so all about it and think everything was perfect and grab the camera and take a picture and through the viewfinder…..

….it looked amazing.

Like Better Homes and Gardens should be knocking at the door.

But when I downloaded the photos and actually looked at the pictures….yikes….not so much.

It takes practice and learning how to think like a camera to get it right.

So 4754 pictures and hundreds of rooms later….here’s what I’ve learned from the picture-taking-school-of -hard-knocks.

Five tips for taking better photos of a room.

A well lit room like this dining room photographs beautifully.

1.  Lighting makes the difference

Just like a super model….each room has its “good side.”

For example, our dining room is at the very front of the house and gets bright morning sunlight because it faces east.

Ensure the sun is not too bright when photographing your home or else photos will look washed out.

But if you take the picture when the sunlight is too bright….the room can look a little washed out.

Like this.

The sunlight comes into the room and almost overpowers it and changes the color on the walls and the textiles in the space.

Too many shadows in a room will cause any photos taken to look dark.

If you wait too late in the day….the shadows are too much for the room.

It looks dark and mysterious which is fine if you are writing the next American suspense novel….but for a room photograph?  Not so much.

4:00 p.m. is the best time to photograph rooms in your home.

And here’s the supermodel at about 4:00 pm.

The beauty hour.

The wall color looks right and you can see glimpses of the outside because the sun is on the other side of the house.

Switching up the perspective of your camera angle is a great tip for taking awesome photos.

2.  Change your perspective

This shot of the dining room looks completely different from the image in the first tip.


It’s taken straight on instead of at an angle.

When photographing a room….think outside the box.  Take pictures and pictures and more pictures.  I’ve stood on a ladder in the corner of a room to photograph the room looking down at the space or put the tripod on top of the table and flipped it upside down to photograph the table top or stood in another room or outside the front door to take a full room picture.

A new perspective changes everything.

(total aside:  another life lesson). 🙂

Eye level photos are great for capturing tiny details in your home.


3.  Try to see eye-to-eye

When taking vignettes in your space remember to take the pictures at eye level.  This can be challenging sometimes, especially if you don’t use a tripod.

I’m short.  As in 5 foot on a really good day.

And because my vantage point is a lot closer to the ground….many times I’m aiming the camera up when I’m holding it.


Adjusting the camera angle so your vignette is at eye level makes such a difference.

Here’s a photograph taken at eye level.

Taking a photo from an angle that's too high will create unnecessary dark shadows and distorted objects.

And here’s the same photograph taking looking down.

See the difference?

The camera distorts the images and adds shadows.

You can easily change the eye level perspective of an image by using a tripod and lowering and raising the camera.

Choosing a focal point in your photos will add drama to your pictures.

4.  The focal point is your friend

This is a subtle change….but it can add drama and personality to your room images.

Here’s the exact same picture, except I changed the focal point.

Note:  this is much easier to do if you are manually focusing.  Just change the lens to manual focus and move the square around on the screen to change your focal point.  Then focus with the dial on the very end of the lens.

In this photograph I focused on the wreath in the center of the picture.

Choosing a focal point is great way to draw attention to certain objects.

Here the focus is on the hydrangea in the front of the picture.

Notice how the curtains and the vase on the other side of the gate are blurry and out of focus.

Focal points in photos draw attention to what is most important.

And here’s the opposite effect.

I focused on the far vase instead.

Notice how the hydrangea in the front are blurry and out of focus now.

By changing the focal point… can focus on what’s really important.

Close up images are great for featuring texture and design.

5.  Sometimes you don’t need to see the whole picture to get the idea

Every room has hidden textures and patterns and visual stories to tell….that you might miss with a wide shot.

Take time to showcase the small details.

Like the tips of the feathers on this wreath against a garden gate.

This chippy iron cloche outlined against the brilliant green from outside makes for a beautiful photo.

Or the patina of this chippy iron cloche outlined against the brilliant green from outside.

This vase of hydrangeas on the table beautifully echo the hydrangeas on the hutch in the back.

Or the vase of hydrangea on the table that echoes the hydrangea on the hutch in the back ground.

Take pictures of a part instead of the whole.

Take pictures of simply fabric.

Take pictures of a pattern or texture found on a piece of furniture in the room.

It’s as if the overall room shot is the headline in the book….

…..and these detail shots are the chapters in the story.

An 188 to 135 mm flexible lens is ideal for photographing rooms.


All the pictures in this post (well….except this one) were taken with this lens.

It’s an 18 to 135 mm which is a really flexible lens for photographing a room.

It allows you to take wide shots by zooming out and close shots by zooming in.

And all the extra paint?

I think it helps it fit in with all the super models. 🙂


PS  I’d love to hear your room photography tips, too.  It takes a village to write a really good photography post. 🙂

PPS  Here’s a few other photography posts that might be helpful like this tip on how to get sharper images and simple tips for better photos.

5 tips for taking better pictures

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  1. Image for Sue Sue

    Hi KariAnne. Thanks so much for sharing these tips. I'm learning so much on this blogging journey and photography is way up there on my list. Lighting is also my number 1 and most of the time, it's my enemy (boo!). When I was photographing my master bedroom makeover, I was all like "la de da, these are fab", until I pulled them up on the computer. Ouch! I'll be sure to start looking at the room throughout the day, to see when is the best time to capture it! Sue

  2. Image for Robin Robin

    Oh honey ...thank you for these invaluable tips! I adore your photos and will take your tips to heart! My FAVORITE thing is your lens...I will absolutely be showing this to Mike because my camera & lens work hard and wear paint and and sawdust and frosting - these things Mike doesn't completely understand... :) sending love my friend xo

  3. Image for Anne@DesignDreams Anne@DesignDreams

    Great tips Kari! One of the best things about blogging is how much my photography has improved (new camera notwithstanding...). ps I love your home no matter what the lighting looks like in photos! xox

  4. Image for Tara Lehman Tara Lehman

    Hi KariAnne! Thank you so much for your photography tips! I am really new to this blogging and taking pictures world and have a long, long:) way to go to get my pictures looking the way my eye sees the room. I went out and bought a tripod after your reading one of your last posts and it really helped! Next step figuring out what the best time to photograph my rooms is:)! Best wishes for your blog! I think it's wonderful and always makes me smile:) Thanks again, Tara

  5. Image for Lynn Lynn

    Truly great tips!! My living/dining room area is the hardest for me to photograph. We have giant windows and the sun is so different in each of the windows since one side is partially covered by the overhang on the deck which creates darkness and then the window right next to it brings in full sun. It is the main focus of the room.

  6. Image for Gina Gina

    Great tips! This is certainly the area where I need to hone my craft. Food & tighter shots are more my stronger point right now & I need to broaden my horizons a bit & learn to capture my space more beautifully. Hope you have had a great weeks so far KariAnne! Love & hugs!

  7. Image for Jen Jen

    Beautiful photos and excellent tips. Lighting is my worst enemy but I've found that nothing helps improve my photography more than simply practicing. Thanks for giving me some more skills to practice!

  8. Image for Peggy Zortman Peggy Zortman

    Great post! Photography is not my forte! You definitely have a talent! I am going to try these pointers out and then I will have my daughter-in-love come take the shot. :) She like you is gifted!

  9. Image for Regina Regina

    You came along with this post JUST WHEN I NEEDED IT! :) We're STILL trying to see our beautiful house (so we can buy another beautiful house, but about 8 miles out of town!), and I want to get some better pictures on Zillow! The ones I have on there now are very, VERY, basic, and I honestly think lighting was the main culprit! Thank you, thank you, thank you! We'll latch on to those life-lessons, later . . . ;)

  10. Image for Thrift My House Thrift My House

    You actually talked me into using my tripod. You told me what a huge difference it would make... you said I was a rock star and I could do anything so I tried it and I'll never take room shots without it again! Thank you so much for all the great tips! I need lots of help! Hope you've had a good week KariAnne!

  11. Image for Cheryl Ann Cheryl Ann

    Thanks for your generosity in sharing (again) your "tricks" are talented and I love your blog! Cheryl Ann

  12. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    You always have my undivided attention -- your tips rock!! I have a tripod -- it's using it and the M mode that is keeping me from going ahead. I'll just have to practice some more. I would have loved seeing you on your table with the tripod taking pictures :-) I think I am signed up for 50 different photography classes -- I haven't had time to listen to them. And the challenge for my lighting is that by the time I make the dish for the blog it's night time and my Honey is READY to eat!! Thank you for your advice and tips -- it's the GREAT bloggers that are generous with their wisdom. Thank you oh great one. Hugs!!

  13. Image for Betsy@coastal-colors Betsy@coastal-colors

    Thank you for these tips! Your photos are always stunning! You're so thoughtful to share your tips with us! You know I adore your home; it's beautiful! You left me with a smile with paint on your lens body! :)

  14. Image for Bluwatergal Bluwatergal

    Wonderful tips as always KariAnne! I was in photo gear today. I waited for the right light to shoot & then kept thinking "did I cover the angles, focal options, details & big picture view?" And get all the shots BEFORE I LOSE THE LIGHT!! Yikes! Oh yeah and be sure the styling flotsam hasn't crept in to ruin the shot. It was a busy afternoon. Your photos are always beautiful!! I'll keep learning! Bwg ~~~

  15. Image for Patty Patty

    Don't you know good things come in small packages? My Mom used to yell at me that my things were hung too high and not at eye leve.. She was barely 5'3" and I am over 5'9". I used to tell here they were at my eye level. Now my "kids" are all over 6' and they tell me my things are too low - you can't win. LOVE your new picture!

  16. Image for Sheila@mykentuckyliving Sheila@mykentuckyliving

    Good ideas....and, we have one more thing in common. I too am a solid 5ft 0 inch girl! Two short bloggers from Ky! Love it. Now, if only I can get my pics to look as great as yours. I need a tripod. Tell us what you suggest. I do not want my camera to fall off of one. Sheila

  17. Image for Kerry Kerry

    KariAnne, First of all, your dining room is a super, supermodel. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Timeless. Amazing! Your tips are super duper helpful. Thanks for being you!

  18. Image for karen karen

    I am devouring each of these photography posts! Oh my goodness, the trick about the timer and being able to move the focus in manual mode? I was just about to fork over some money to get even some basic help. I have the same camera and on a lucky day, my pictures are amazing. Lately, not so much. Timer, timer, timer. You are my new best friend.

  19. Image for Deb Deb

    Such great tips...Thanks for sharing! I think lighting is always my biggest problem. Sometimes with two kids, a job, husband, projects, and a blog taking a photo of a room I get that one opening during the day and I take that chance to capture matter what the lighting may be or else I have to wait. What are your tips for taking a photo of a window? Such as a window treatment? I feel it is always so bright and my photos never come out the way I want if it is of a window.

  20. Image for Jonni Jonni

    Love your photos, but had to laugh at being short, I'm 5 ft. on a good day. It does make it easier to take those close-ups that are down around my knees though.

  21. Image for Patricia Patricia

    Huh? There's a good and bad time to take photos of rooms? Just walking in and pointing and shooting doesn't work? And fifteen tries later it STILL isn't getting any better? I just thought I had ugly rooms... I will try some of your tips because I want to document how AWESOME my laundry / craft room project turned out and all the photos so far just look like a basement with washer and dryer. Any special tips on photography in your basement?

  22. Image for Donna O. Donna O.

    Your talent as a photographer also helps! You have the "eye". Your dining room curtains are wonderful. Wondering if they come in a neutral linen color? Can you disclose your source? Thank you for opening up your lovely home to us.

  23. Image for BrocanteuseRose BrocanteuseRose

    Great tips! Perspective is tricky. I can often be found laying on my stomach in the yard to get the best angle when photographing my flower gardens. Not that my pictures from that angle are anything to brag about - but that is more because our 100 lb St. Bernard puppy thinks this is play time aka use me as a trampoline time. So my only tip to add would be use a tripod when there is a Saint Bernard bouncing around the area. :)

  24. Image for Sharon Sharon

    I am so glad my camera is not the only one with paint on it! I dropped and broke my 18 - 55 lens a few months ago. So, I've been using my 55 - 200 but I sure could use that 18 - 55 range sometimes. I need to bite the bullet and have that lens fixed. I absolutely love photography and feel so legit when I'm standing on stools or laying on the floor to get a good shot. Sometimes I amaze myself with the results and sometimes I am so disappointed by the photos I see on my computer screen. I do have my focus in manual, but I have not yet learned how to move the focus box around. It seems to have a mind of its own. I'm SO glad that you are sharing your photography tips because I really appreciate your photos and how you capture a scene. My photography has come a long way, baby. A lot of that has to do with camera upgrades. I feel like my camera and my abilities have finally found a match.

  25. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    Oh, I need to re-visit your archives and my saved e's of your posts to see what camera you use! I know I should get a tripod and use a timer ~ thanks for those tips! ~ but first I want to upgrade our camera. We *may* put our home on the market and will need smashing pix, if so! But that's only one reason: hubby is a really natural talent, and I want him to have much better equipment to use! Oh, yes ~ also, I have acquired some great lenses through the years that I'd hope to be able to use on this new camera ... (that could be difficult, right?!). Your photography is wonderful, and I am thrilled with the way you are so open and willing to advise just how to go about getting the great shots you achieve: You make it SEEM so simple! You make it seem so SIMPLE! YOU make it seem so simple! It's all in the way you look at it, right? And when you tell the story, with your photo illustrations, you do make it simple ~ thank you. To close, you have the most clever Followers ever, KariAnne ~ it's always a treat to read all the comments! And it's obvious that everyone loves you and appreciates all the information you so generously share with us!

  26. Image for karen karen

    I just got an 18-135 lens in the mail today. I have been wanting one for some time and I decided to spend my money. Your tips are so amazing! I have been photographing all kinds of things in my office, playing with shifting the focus and the timer. I never knew light bulbs and scissors could be so fascinating in a photo! I cannot wait to start shooting some furniture!

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