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Shooting Before and After Images

With interior photography shooting before and after images can be really useful for companies that fit out interiors or architects who do a lot of structural remodelling. Putting them on a web page with a slider is a great way of showing off the space before and after and these sliders are commonly understood throughout the web.

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Shooting before and after images presents a few problems and the purpose of this blog is to run over the biggest problems and how to get it right. As an example I’m using a shoot from a few years back for D-tales a Dubai based furniture shop.

To line up two images you need to be shooting from the same camera position, with the same lens focal length. For any client the ‘after’ picture is going to be the most important image but as the interior has yet to be built this obviously presents a small problem.

Sometimes architects will produce renderings of the space which they have used to present to their own clients. These can be invaluable but a word of caution, they sometimes vary considerably from the finished interior. A much better way is to start with the actual plans themselves.

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One tip is to sit down with the plans and a protractor because as this will allow you to estimate your lens angles for the lenses you use. Draw out the camera positions, angles and fields of view on the plans and now for the most important part of the entire shoot… get the client to sign off the angles.

This is not to protect yourself but more importantly because so much can change in a refit that you need as much information as possible to make the most educated decisions. Having to move the camera by half a meter will mess up that perfectly overplayed image. There are a lot of people involved in designing and building an interior space, with all the politics involved as well as a lot creative decisions still possibly in limbo. You might actually find yourself in a conversation such as ‘don’t tell the architect but i’m planning on putting a tree in that corner’.

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Now it actually comes to shooting the project. Place the tripod according to your plan and then measure everything. This is so important because you need to remind the position when the build has been finished. Look for distances to points that will not change such as walls, or any transits that will allow you to position the camera. Make sure you are thinking about the height of the camera allowing for any changes to the depth of the floor, note down focal length and also the focal distance of the camera. The more detail you record now the more accurate the two images will be when they line up. What you are trying to achieve is to find the same camera position for the after image to within a couple of inches. Take more measurements than you think you will need, time here is time saved in post production where the last thing you want to be doing is warping your images to adjust for parallax errors

The one thing that is difficult to measure is the lateral angle of the camera so I would recommend bracketing this. For example, shoot 5-10 degrees left and 5-10 degrees right as well as your anticipated angle. Its also a really good idea to shoot slightly wider than you need so you have a bit of flexibility to crop in.

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