Leah Dean | Kitchen Designer | Dean Cabinetry

By Leah Dean

As a homeowner, you have a working understanding of your kitchen’s best features, and this will help you to create the best photos. The planning and preparation stage is always one of the most important steps in the process. Once you’ve done this, taking the photos is pretty simple and fun!

1. Do I need a special camera?

With many of today’s phones having high-quality cameras built into them, it’s not necessary to use a fancy camera. I have an iPhone XR, and I feel it takes excellent photos. It has an editing capability that is super simple and easy to use. From my phone, I can quickly adjust each photo’s exposure, shadows, and contrast, just to name a few. If you don’t like the changes you’ve made, you can start over. It might feel a bit intimidating at first, but once you’ve tried a few, you’ll realize how easy it is, and what a difference it can make.

Some may think it’s necessary to have a wide-angle lens in order to capture your entire kitchen. A wide-angle lens tends to create distortion and makes items close to the camera appear larger, and items far away appear smaller. This distortion often feels unnatural. Using a standard lens, you can just step away from your subject to get as much as you can into the shot. We may not see the whole room, but we do get a nice feeling of the space.

Kitchen Photo Showing the Farm Sink and Wood Hood

2. What kind of light should I use in my photos?

I find that it is best to time your photoshoot to occur during the daylight hours.  Taking photos at night is not optimal; I prefer the hours between 10am-3pm.

A bright day is much better than a rainy day. Allowing as much natural light into your kitchen as possible can help achieve the best photographs. Natural light is best, but try a few photos both with the lights on and with the lights off. Sometimes one way looks much better than the other.

Most of the time I prefer that under cabinet lighting is turned on, as well as having any lights over the range or cooktop turned on. Try a photo both ways, and see what looks better to you.

3. What should I have on my counters?

One of the first things I do when I approach a kitchen photoshoot, is to take a general look over the entire kitchen. Does it look open and spacious or cluttered and confusing? Are there too many tchotchkes on the counters? Are the counters overwhelmed with small appliances? 

I find that “less is more” when it comes to getting a kitchen photo that tells a great story. Items on the counters can be beautiful, but too many of them can be distracting. Rather than adding to the look, they can often take away from the features of the kitchen cabinets and countertops. 

Photo Showing Inside the Kitchen Cabinetry

For example, when it comes to small appliances, having a toaster, coffee maker, mixer, and pressure pot on the counters is just too much for a photo. Perhaps you use these items every day and like to have easy access to them. For photo purposes though, they can overwhelm the space. Runners and small carpets can be functional, but do they add to the look, or detract from the beauty of the kitchen?

I like to keep (or add) a few select items that contribute to the look and feel of the space. A bowl of brightly colored fruit; oranges, lemons, or green apples, looks beautiful in a kitchen. A pretty cutting board, leaning up against the backsplash, a nice coffee maker, a colorful Kitchen Aid mixer. Any of these might add to the look and feel….you get the idea!

Not only do we want an uncluttered kitchen, but we want it to be clean and tidy. I make sure that any carpets that remain line up properly and are not crooked. I’ll also check to ensure that all the stools and chairs are pushed in and evenly spaced. All cabinet doors and drawers should be closed, there should be no crumbs on the counters or debris on the floor. Often clients keep dish soap and/or sponges by the sink. Although an essential part of a kitchen sink area, they don’t add beauty to a kitchen photo. 

4. At what height should I hold my camera?

Another way to mix things up is to take photos at different heights, not just at eye level. Shoot slightly higher or lower than eye level to give a better perspective. I find that this one tip can make a huge difference in the feel of your photos. I like to shoot with my camera at about chest height, or at about 40 inches off the floor (which is about waist height for me). When your camera sits lower than eye level, your photos will look more like those you see in magazines. 

5. What is the best spot to stand and take my photos?

Walk around your kitchen and view the space from a few different perspectives. This will help you to determine the best angles to show off your space. When taking a photo, remind yourself to always have a subject in your photo. This will capture the attention of your viewer. 

Try to set your camera straight and don’t let it tilt up or down. When you tilt the camera, the vertical lines in the photo get distorted, which won’t look professional. It may even feel like it is falling over. Shoot straight onto an elevation of a room to provide a great composition, which results in a photo that is pleasing to the eye. I prefer photographing mostly vertical shots, but try shooting horizontally if you prefer.

One of my favorite spots to position myself is between the island and the opposing base cabinets, shooting straight on to the perpendicular wall of cabinetry. If there is an island, I love the look of this perspective! Below is an example of what I mean. 

Kitchen Photo Showing and Aesthetically Pleasing Perspective

See more photo examples on our completed kitchen projects page.

6. Should I take close-ups of special items in my kitchen?

You know your kitchen best. Feel free to get creative and take close-ups of interesting elements. Items such as your farmhouse sink or wood hood make wonderful photos. If you have an island, that is always a fun photo too. Open up your cabinetry and take photos of any interesting accessories or custom inserts (just make sure everything is somewhat organized). Friends and family are always curious about what’s “in” your cabinetry… I know I always am! Share photos of your spice pullout, lazy susan, rollouts, or double trash (tidy up the bins first). 

Bottom line is have fun during your photoshoot. With today’s built-in phone cameras there should be no pressure. Unlike years ago with cameras that used film, today you can take as many photos as you want, and it doesn’t cost a penny. So relax, have fun, and get creative! Feel free to download and share your photos with us. Send them to  Leah@deancabinetry.com. I anxiously await your beautiful creations!