Roseville Civic Center
Roseville, CA
Williams + Paddon Architects + Planners
Today's “Trick of the Trade” is foreground elements. One of the most common challenges we face when photographing architecture and interior design is dealing with negative space. Don’t get me wrong negative space has a purpose and can be used to great effect, but that is a talk for another day.

Whether you’re photographing interiors or exteriors we have the challenge of large areas of empty space, functionally this space is intended for use by “pedestrian traffic.” The common use of wide angle lenses enhance this empty space and what we experience as enough room to conveniently navigate a space is distorted in the photograph to appear to be a vast open space. Real estate photographers will use this feature to great effect to make small spaces seem much larger, but for most of us this is not what we want.

As you can see in the photograph above the easiest way to hide a large empty floor is to introduce an foreground element to fill part of the space. The balance of how much of this empty space to show or hide all depends on the intent of the photographer. I wanted just enough foreground to control the perception of the size of the room, but I didn’t want so much that I made the room seem small. To do this I positioned my camera to show the critical elements of the room repositioned to provide a good foreground and then raised and lowered the height of the camera to get the effect that I wanted. I had the advantage of the counter along the right hand side of the space to help realize the purpose of the foreground element, I also wanted to draw attention to that part of that of the design by placing the papers and pen on the desk.

Roseville Civic Center
Roseville, CA
Williams + Paddon Architects + Planners
This technique is equally effective when shooting exteriors. By placing a landscaping element in the lower foreground and or a branch in the upper corner we can fill the objectionable empty space and help make the image more aesthetically appealing. This does require scrambling around in the gardens or sometimes bringing a branch or bush with you to the shoot. I’ve had people ask me to do this in post production with photoshop but it never looks right and usually would cost about the same to reshoot.

In closing I want to reiterate past comments about styling in other tricks of the trade articles:
 Keep your styling and foreground elements appropriate to the space and purpose of the space or structure
 Less is more don’t add something just to add something there’s got to be a logical reason for it to be there.
 “Keep your eyes on the prize” always remember that you’re not photographing stuff you’re photographing design don’t let the stuff become a more important element in your composition than what you’re photographing, either in the picture or in your own mind.

Thanks,
Dean