'Smaller spaces', Interior Photography

Showing how 'good images' make all the difference


I was asked if I could create some new images for a holiday let in Norfolk England. It was already being advertised and had images online, so perfect opportunity to go and take a peek and see whats what, and what I might be facing. I knew it was called Elf Cottage, and I also know elves aren't very big, so had an idea it might be a play on words for a smaller space. Maybe Elves live underground! Maybe there is a labyrinth of tunnels lit up with fireflies in jam jars, a tiny sunken swimming pool .....must stop over thinking it. My Elf knowledge really isn't that great and I'm probably getting mixed up with hobbits and Lord Of The Rings, or something similar. So I went and had a look, flipped through the existing images, it definitely wasn't underground. Maybe one day I'll get an underground hobbit hole to photograph, that would be fun.


The images confirmed it, it did look small, I couldn't really tell how small or if the images were just not doing the property justice. Living in the UK, generally speaking our properties aren't big anyway, compared to some other places, like America or Canada. To be honest I think most Americans that come over here think we all live in 'tiny cute houses'.


Back to the images, now, no disrespect to the person who took the original photos, because they wern't a photographer, and happily admitted so. Apart from a feeling of tightness, the images looked a bit 'depressing'. Its a strong word and never a word I would want to feel when looking for a place to spend my precious holiday time. The colours were washed out and muted. The exposure wasn't great with blown highlights and a loss of detail in the shadows. This isn't surprising and not unusual when a non photographer creates the images. Partly down to the equipment, a phone camera, as good as it is, is going to have its limitations compared to professional kit. Even a half decent camera is not great, unless you know what to do with it. Its also partly down to the skill of post processing, which is editing the images after the shoot. Even great cameras and lenses are no match (in lots of situations) for our eyes. Our eyes are amazing at controlling light, focusing, and have a great angle of view. So post processing is needed to make the images 'look' more like how we would actually see it, if we were there. Post processing or 'editing' can get a bad name because some people (sometimes rightly intentionally) go waaaayy to far and edit the image to death, and it doesn't look real, it looks fake. There's nothing wrong with fake and surreal in the right place, but it shouldn't be used when you are trying to pass something off as genuine, ie holiday let or real estate images.


Lastly its also down to the photographer, their skills in operating the equipment, editing, and the 'photographers eye'. Even smaller spaces can usually be shot in different ways, different things included in the picture, different angles and details. Trying to get key features shown, features that draw in potential holiday makers or buyers. Making a scene feel more welcoming, or cosy, or luxurious, are all down to the photographers eye AND how the owner has staged (dressed) the property. Staging makes a big difference, but it's down to the owner or agent to create a 'look' they want. Saying all that, sometimes, there just aren't that many options and you have to just do the best you can. A good example of that is a small cloakroom, it just needs a functional (correct) image to prove it exists, if it even needs an image at all. Heres ones example from a different shoot, where I didn't have many options, but I'm sure the image does what its supposed to.


Interior real estate photography bathroom
Interior real estate photography bathroom cloakroom

Back to Elf Cottage. When I arrived I was pleasantly surprise how much nicer the place was than its pictures, OK it wasn't underground, but then I wasn't holding out much hope for that. I didn't have a sense of being hemmed in, it certainly wasn't depressing, and had lots of lovely little homely touches, it was cosy and cute, for a smaller home.


Let's do some image comparisons and see if you notice much of a difference.


New image gives a sense of the actual space that was there, you see extra seating, and a warm cosy fire with rug. Seeing though the doorway shows you how the property flows and links. It feels lighter and more airy. The bookshelf and table items show there might be something to do when you get there, without being cluttered. The table lamp isn't creating unrealistic lighting.


Another angle of the sitting room


And one from one of the bedrooms



The new image captures more, with warmer tones, properly lit. You can get a glimpse out the window and although its not a big bedroom, it looks more inviting and now properly represents how the space feels.


Add in a few detail shots, I think, makes it feel really personable and highlights the fact the owners have really cared that their guests enjoy the space.

Elf cottage in Heacham, Norfolk, UK can be found here https://www.cottages.com/cottages/elf-cottage-uk33151


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