by Christian Scully
There is a very basic law of photography that should be professed from the get-go: what appears in reality is not what appears in the camera, and vice versa. It has been said that the camera is the greatest liar of all (quote a photography history course, somewhere, sometime). While you could delve for days into the philosophical meaning of this statement, I'm just referring to the very literal ability of the camera to lie, or perhaps only slightly bend the truth, or light.
The fact is that our eyes and brain are very perceptive to our surroundings, able to recognize depth, size and proportion as we move about a room. But place a glass lens in at a single perspective and reality can start to morph. Pieces of furniture can change size, five feet of space could become one, a tiny room can even appear large. It comes down to how the photographer's lens choice translates the interior onto an image.
The real job of an interior photographer, after gaining technical camera skills and understanding light, is to become a mover, a stager, a set builder. I'm not the first in saying my job is ten percent photography and ninety percent moving furniture, and though exaggerated, the notion is correct. Once determining the best angle to capture an interior, to highlight whatever the designer chooses, I then need to adjust everything in the frame according to the camera, not the eye.
Often, when working with a new client, I see the looks of worry and panic on their face as I move a piece of furniture or prop. They are viewing the space from perhaps several feet above and to the side of the camera, viewing the reality, not the story that the camera is about to tell. After assurance and an explanation, I will take the image and reveal the results, followed by sighs of relief and couple laughs. They get it.
Representing interior design is definitely something that takes a lot of practice, trial and error, attention to even the most minute details, and still consistently presents new technical challenges. Most people can walk into a room and either take it for granted or acknowledge it, saying "nice room" and move on with their lives. Not a design photographer. It doesn't matter what space I am in, interior or exterior, small or large, historic or modern, I autonomously scan my surroundings to find the best image. Like most photographers, I see the world in cropped frames. I frame my vision with lines, textures, color, shape, depth and pattern, always looking for that one hero shot. It is this thought process, this visually addicted personality, that brings value to the title of professional photographer.
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