If you've ever taken your own photos after completing a design for a client, what I'm about to say won't come as any surprise: Photographing window treatments is difficult.
You're trying to work against one of the basic lighting rules in photography, which is to avoid backlight. Having the primary light source behind your subject means that all of the shadows are in front, throwing the subject into a dark silhouette with little detail. The light may also create a halo as it passes the subject, making edges appear out of focus.
The spectrum from the lightest lights to the darkest darks is called the "dynamic range." Our eyes are impressive in their ability to detect details within a wide dynamic range, as in the top gradient. The best camera sensors available can't yet achieve the same range that our eyes can — and, let's be honest, few of us amateurs have top-of-the-line cameras or would know how to use them to their best advantage.
The cameras that we as amateur photographers use — mobile devices, point‑and‑shoots, or DSLR cameras — are even more limited in their dynamic range, as in the bottom gradient. Notice how only the middle range is separated into smaller value differences. Our eyes can pick up on details that the camera doesn't see, which is most noticeable at the edges of the spectrum where the camera loses detail and instead gives us flat white and black. This adds a layer of complexity to photographing window treatments, but it doesn't make it impossible.
Hiring a professional photographer with experience shooting interiors will likely yield the best and most consistent results. Unfortunately, that's not always possible due to budgets, schedules and other obstacles. Read on for some tips that may improve your window treatment photographs the next time you find yourself behind the camera.
By adding light within the room, you achieve better balance with the light outside and narrow the dynamic range that the camera needs to capture by removing some of the extreme lights and darks.
Again, the goal here is to produce a better balance of light to minimize the dynamic range that the camera needs to capture.
When you aim your camera at a subject, it's programmed to consider that the most important part of the photo. Unless you change the settings, the camera sensors will prioritize the lighting for the area of focus.
I know, you already have a lot on your plate, but the best way to improve your photography skills is through research and practice. By preparing yourself ahead of time, you'll not only take better photos but you'll also take up less of your client's time in the process.
George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, is quoted as saying, "Light makes photography. Embrace it. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography."
It's a tall order, but I believe that as designers you're already halfway there. Tag your photography successes on social media with #carolefabrics and we'll share as many as we can!
Christine has been working in marketing and creating with textiles for more than 25 years, giving her a distinctive approach to the industry.