As a photographer, you have probably prepared for every setting when photographing people. Lighting, sets, attractive outdoor settings, groupings, all work together for successful portraits. You’ve mastered the ability of getting a restless toddler to look at the camera long enough for you to click the shutter. You may have even found yourself in the scary world of photographing pets. But, what about furniture? There is an entire market out there in furniture photography, and you could create your own niche. For your next photography project, think about creating a furniture photography portfolio with whatever you feel will work, that could even be hallway console tables!
If you are a photographer, you already have the equipment you need for successful furniture shoots. You’ll need a sturdy, easily adjusted tripod to remove any wobble from the shot. This also gives you the chance to take longer exposures. You will actually spend quite a bit of time on these shots, so a sturdy tripod is a necessity.
Lighting does not have to be elaborate. Yes, you’ll need special lighting, but you can use what you already have in your studio. There is no need to go out and buy expensive Italian lighting system. A 3-light setup is fine, with some reflectors. Use an umbrella on 2 of the lights as a diffuser to keep the light flat, and use the 3rd light to highlight part of the shot, or to create shadows where you want them. However, that being said, if you want to go really big time, get some of the hot tungsten lights with barndoors on them so that you can aim the light better and prevent spill.
Most cameras have a self-timer. If yours doesn’t, get an inexpensive cable release. Set the timer or use the release so that you don’t have any camera shake. Again, you’ll be doing some long exposures, so this is crucial.
The camera itself should be able to photograph in RAW files. This gives you more control of every aspect of the photo, from color to sharpness. It also needs to allow you to shoot in full manual mode. Auto focus will keep you from doing what you need in your photography, and get in the way of your creativity. Most of the rest of the work will be done with the lens you use. In fact, some photographers don’t even worry about the body of the camera. They use an inexpensive body, and buy really nice lenses that they can use for years.
Backdrops can make a big difference, too. They will reflect color onto the shot as well as providing a controlled background. The right backdrop can bring out details in the furniture that would otherwise be lost.
Why Photograph Furniture?
Just as an artist paints still-lifes, a photographer can shoot still-lifes. Not only is it a work of art and a great study, it can record special sentiments. That beautifully turned leg on a Duncan-Fife end table, or the worn hand-tools of a master carpenter can be immortalized in a well-done photo.