Photographing a Furniture Store


I was recently asked to photograph Traditions Fine Furniture and Design for their website and other publicity work. There were some interesting challenges. Normally when I shoot the interior of a house, I shoot strictly available light. There have only been a couple of times when I needed to put up additional lights, which almost always results in a huge amount of post processing. This store, however, has huge north-facing windows, and lots of interior lighting. To a great extent, displays were arranged as if they were rooms in a house, specifically to give prospective customers a real feel for what the furniture would look like in their homes.

Because there were so many of these vignettes scattered about the store, I decided the best approach to this assignment was to shoot it exactly the same way I do the interior of any house (a subject I'll address in another post soon): shoot available light, very low ISO 64 (the Nikon D810's dynamic range actually improves when the ISO is lowered to ISO 64), and an f/stop of around f/11, all mounted on my tripod. The vast majority of everything would be shot with my Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, while the smaller decor items would be shot with the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8.

There were also a number of smaller vignettes -- just a couple of pieces of furniture, often no walls or smaller sections. The challenge there was to try to capture the vignette in such a way that it at least kinda looked like it was in someone's house.

The store's owner and one of his assistants did what they could to make sure there were no price tags or electrical cables showing, but that's not always possible. Where they couldn't hide a price tag, the removed them. But there were so many that I felt it would be as easy for me to get rid of them in post. Likewise, in situations where it would have caused them a lot of extra work to move an electrical cord, or where doing so would have meant leaving a lamp or the like off (I prefer all the lights be on -- it just looks better to me), I told them to leave it, and I took it out in post.

They also asked that I do some product type shots for them of the smaller decoration items they had scattered about the store. Had I shot all of the available items, I would have been shooting for a week. And they'd be replacing price tags for longer than that. So we shot items were they were. This meant changing to the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8. The challenge now was to keep the viewer's eye on the piece the photo was about, and not wandering all over the store.

For some of them, it was easy -- they were on shelves that were all white and enclosed on three sides. Except that it sometime proved to be difficult to get the camera where I needed it to get a good head-on shot. Some of the shelves were just barely off the floor. Others were so high I had to put the camera into live-view mode, and hand hold it above me head. Of course, hand holding meant I had to up my ISO so I could up my shutter speed. So be it.

Other items were just out there. If I could get them in a small vignette setting, great. If not, I had to find a way to frame the shot to keep surrounding distractions to a minimum.

There were a few that were really wall decorations, and as such, were hung on "walls." Still others were meant to sit on tables. Or on top of another decorative item.