How to Photograph Rooms and Projects

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There are so many different types of photography that it takes a whole different skill set than just knowing how to use your camera. I’m going to share some tips on how to photograph rooms and projects, as this is something that bloggers deal with quite a bit! If you’ve got a home decor blog or want to share a project that will WOW on Pinterest with just a glance of one image, you must have fabulous photography, or a great project might often get overlooked.
How to Photograph Rooms and Projects
When photographing your home and projects, the most favorable light is the natural light shining through the window. I often hear frustrations from people during the long winter months about the lack of sunlight. There is still light coming through the windows, it’s just cloudy and drab. Sometimes you’ll need a little a help from an inexpensive external flash, bouncing it off of the ceiling. What’s great about photographing projects and rooms is that there are generally not people in the shot, so you don’t have to worry about movement. When you can’t control the darkness, using a tripod with your photography will allow you to have a very slow shutter speed which will bring in more light. This way, you can take a picture in natural light on a dreary day and it doesn’t look that way.


* Shoot in the middle of the day, or early afternoon when the light is at its best and brightest

* Position your projects close to a window or large opening. My kitchen window has great light, so it’s where I set up most of my shots.


*Open your front door, use ladder or table or chair to display items. Below are two examples where I places objects in front of my open front door, to capture them in great light.

Here is a pull back shot of a project on a chair. I made it for my Master Bedroom Makeover .

*Shoot in a garage, and just open the garage door. I like to capture step by step shots of working on projects, and conveniently I’m often in the garage working on them, and the open garage doors brings in GREAT light! It’s also an option to do a table top set up in the event that you aren’t getting great light in your home for project shots.

{Working on my tin foil table}

{revealing glitter frames to my girls for their fancy room gallery wall}

Above, the garage table top set up, below, the un-cropped shot.


* Avoid harsh light. Bright early afternoon sun is great, but it can also be extremely strong – and lead to very large strong highlights, and very harsh shadows.

*If in direct sunlight window, have a sheer sheet to diffuse or push table back. Make your own shade.


Most DIY home bloggers are showing off rooms they’ve redone or projects in a room. This can be frustrating because you can’t bring the room to a well lit spot by a big window, you have to work with what you have. The best advice I can give is to use a slow shutter on a tripod and it will brighten up your room immediately. The reason you need a tripod is because you will get camera shake if your shutter is too slow being handheld. Sometimes setting the timer and setting it down works, but that can be limiting. Here is an example in my Boys Room Makeover:

Above: picture example of a dark room Without tripod; high ISO; grainy image

Settings without tripod: 35mm lens/ ISO 1250/ aperture 4.0/shutter speed 1/160


Below: Same room, on tripod with lower ISO and slower shutter speed to allow more light

room on tripod photography

I moved the shutter down to .6 shutter speed and place it on a tripod for more light. ISO was 100.

The only time I will use artificial light during the day when I have available natural light is when I’m shooting into a window. The bright light coming through often fizzes out the details with a smoky halo around the window. Here are images from my Citrus Kitchen Makeover. You can see the light fixture has too much light on it, therefore dimming it’s beauty. The window itself is also quite cloudy.

By popping on my flash in the below shot, I am able to see the details around the window better. I recommend bouncing or tilting the flash upward. I wanted to see more of the detail of the orange colander chandelier, and it got lost in the window light above. As you can see, it also reduced the shadows on the chairs and wall as well. It showcases the room nicely, and makes for a crisper, cleaner look.

In most cases, I still prefer the look of the natural light in the image below, I just stood at a different angle (not directly shooting into the window light) and the details were more clear.

I hope this helps give you more ideas when photographing your home and projects. If you’d like more technical tips on how to use your camera, check out other photo tips, as well as my beginner and intermediate photography books: Say NO to Auto and Get Focused

Join The Discussion



  1. Alison says:

    Thanks for all the great info! I really hope that 2014 is the year I can really improve my photography skills!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      It’s just the beginning of the year, go for it!!

  2. Alayna says:

    Ry probably told you, but someone in our ward (a guy) got say no to auto for christmas!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I did not hear that, that’s awesome!

  3. Crystal says:

    Thanks for the great information!! I’m trying to focus on using my camera more this year and learning about it all. Thanks so much 🙂

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Great, glad this is helpful!!

  4. DUDE!!!! I swear I searched for a post just like this on your blog a few weeks ago. Maybe I was reading your mind that you were dreaming up such a post. I am soooo glad I have it now. I could read your blog for hours and hours girl. Seriously!! You are crazy talented and have such a cute family!!!

    Are you going to Alt or Snap?? I love to meet you!!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Yay, so glad it’s helpful!!! Dang, I’m not going to Snap or ALT this year–going to BYB, but wishing I was going to ALT! I did SNAP twice and just couldn’t swing it this year, but you’ll love it!!

  5. Cyndee says:

    Kristen, Thanks for the tips! I have been placing items in front of my window but struggling with shadows. Can’t wait to try it with a sheer. 🙂 Blessings, Cyndee

    • Kristen Duke says:

      The foam boards help a lot with the shadows!

  6. Irving says:

    Again, another great post with very valuable tips! I especially love the tips on photographing a room and using a slow shutter speed and a tripod. What great information. Thanks again for another valuable and informative post!

  7. Natural light is rather limited here in the NW in the winter! I love the tip on shooting in the garage – definitely going to try that one.

  8. Ronda says:

    Thank you so much for this super helpful info! I just did a bedroom post for my blog and had all the problems you talk about here. Excited to try and try again! 🙂

  9. Kristen I just want to say thank you! Your photography tips are so helpful! I read your post about starting your own photography business and there are so many great tips! I am just starting out myself and man Photoshop is like an alien language!! I do plan on taking a few classes this summer but in the meantime I will be returning to your blog for all of the helpful tips you have!!

    Thanks again!!!!


  10. Regina says:


    This information is very helpful. I just bought a new camera and will definitely play around with him. I’m hoping I can take beautiful pictures likes yours. Thanks for sharing!

    • Regina says:

      Hi Kristen,

      Thanks for the tips Kristen! As you can see, I’m still learning. I also have these blurry pictures I took from my iphone and I’m trying to edit it. No success :(.

  11. Great tips! Thanks!

  12. Finja says:

    Thanks for these tips!:)
    xx finja |