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How to Photograph Furniture

Furniture photography is an exercise in precision and technical skill. While working to highlight the craftsmanship of the piece, the photographer must minimize glare from the lights, shadows and distortion from the lens.

Learn to make sharp, well-lit pictures of furniture.

Furniture photography is an exercise in precision and technical skill. While working to highlight the craftsmanship of the piece, the photographer must minimize glare from the lights, shadows and distortion from the lens.

  1. Find a large space to shoot furniture. Try to find a space that is three times as wide as the furniture you're photographing. For example, the ideal space for photographing a 2 1/2-foot-wide armchair will have 7 1/2 feet of space on either side of the chair.

  2. Set up a studio backdrop. A white backdrop ensures that the furniture will blend with the background. A white background will make post production easier if the goal is highlight a single piece of furniture.

  3. Use with the longest lens that you can manage in your space—many furniture photographers use a 210 mm lens. Wide angle lenses distort the lines in the image. The goal is to photograph the furniture as it looks to your eye.

  4. Choose a lighting setup based on the furniture surface. Different surfaces require positioning the lights differently. Painted and upholstered furniture doesn't reflect much light and does well with broad, rather than focused, light sources. You can use a softbox or an umbrella to soften and increase the light source. Bounce light off of a white colored ceiling to achieve a similar effect. Use natural light if there is a window close by. Do not rely on artificial tungsten or fluorescent light inside the studio.

  5. Position the furniture in front of the lens in such a way that you capture the front, side and top in one image. You may need need to move the light source around the object and take multiple bracketed exposures to achieve the correct exposure. Compile the images in post production to achieve the correct lighting for each side. Make sure to keep the camera on the tripod and the furniture in the same place—only move the light source.

  6. Tip

    Rather than shoot in a wide space to incorporate a background, some product photographers use translucent tents to help produce even diffused lighting. The largest tents, however, are roughly big enough to only cover a dining room chair.

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