There are two questions that I get asked at nearly every real estate shoot I do:
- Why do you shoot interiors and not children, weddings and landscapes like everyone else?
- Are you spending the night?
In this two-part update I’m going to address both of these questions in detail!
To answer the first question we need to go back several years. In 2007 when my son was born I purchased my first DSLR – a Canon EOS Rebel XTi. This was a huge moment in my life. Being a new dad, and being able to capture photos of my son on a digital SLR was really awesome – I had previously been shooting with a small 3.2MP digital point and shoot.
Having a camera that I could look through the lens and see the results on the back of the camera was mind blowing. It made me want to shoot all the time! As any photographer knows, when you start shooting a lot, you start to get bored with subject matter very quickly. I would find myself walking around the house taking photos of random objects (PS3 controllers, flowers, teapots) and felt pretty uninspired by the results.
This lead me to exit my comfort zone and to start shooting something that I’d been fascinated with for as long as I could remember – abandoned buildings!
I’m quite certain that 98% of the people living on this planet have walked or driven past an old abandoned house or factory and wondered what it looks like inside.
In late March of 2010, a good friend and I made our way down the highway to an old abandoned foundry. We parked a few blocks away and walked towards the building. It was cold and grey outside, and you could hear the clanking and banging of loose sheet metal and steel blowing in the wind. As we approached we looked for a way in. After a quick survey to make sure the coast was clear we squeezed between a loosely chained gate and quickly shuffled inside.
As we entered my heart was beating loud and fast – it was pitch black and the smell of oil, mold and soil hung thick in the air and the clanking and banging seemed almost deafening.
I opened my camera bag and started to setup my gear…
After about 5 minutes my eyes had adjusted to the darkness and my heartbeat had slowed back to normal. I was in complete awe! It was better than anything that I had imagined. There was pink light over here, and yellow light over there. There were small pops of red, blue, and orange paint peeking out from under a thick layer of dirt and soot. There were smashed circuit boards, old tools, and a giant furnace looking thing bathed in the craziest green light I had ever seen.
We stayed and explored and took photos for a few hours. I was hooked!
Since then I’ve traveled to numerous abandoned locations throughout Canada and the USA. I’ve seen everything from abandoned candy factories, and farm houses, to sprawling multi-million square foot automobile assembly complexes, to churches, funeral chapels, high schools, youth prisons, hospitals and sanitariums…
So what does all this have to do with why I shoot interiors?
It’s simple. Shooting these buildings has taught me a lot about framing and composition. I’ve learned to keep my camera level and my vertical lines in check – all things that are essential for shooting interiors. I’ve learned to hunt for a composition that tells the ‘story’ of a room. My goal is to show not only how a room looks, but also how it feels.
Shooting interiors is one of the most technical forms of photography on earth and I love the challenge.
Below are some of my favorites from over the years.
Over and out.
P.S. Stay tuned for the answer to the second question.