At the 1WorldSync Chicago Studio, we see furniture come in and out of our facility often — whether its refrigerators, patio sets, or cabinets — we’ve pretty much seen it all. We often receive questions about our photography processes for different pieces of furniture. Therefore, we sat down with our expert photographers to learn their best tips and tricks for capturing the best quality furniture photos. Here’s what they had to say.
What stations do you use to photograph furniture in 360 degrees?
This depends on the size of the furniture piece. The large platform will accommodate everything from a chair to a small sofa. The arm combined with the large platform allows for over-the-top views which gives the customer a 3D look at the piece. For larger furniture pieces such as sectionals or dining room sets, the carousel 5000 is the way to go.
When getting into specific furniture pieces, the large platform is great for single items like dressers, chairs, small couches, recliners, tables, etc. The carousel would be best for bigger pieces or full living room sets, full dining room sets, and bed sets.
Can you photograph sets of furniture or are you limited to just one piece of furniture at a time?
We can do both, because of the variety of options with the carousel and the large platform. We have photographed numerous sets of furniture in 360 degrees, such as outdoor patio sets and dining room sets. It’s a really neat concept that not a lot of customers realize we can do, and we recommend it as it shows the entirety of the product group.
On the other hand, seeing multiple furniture pieces in a single view can be confusing for the online shopper. There might be too much going on visually. Breaking groups up into individual pieces is a great way to highlight the specific details. For instance, a 360 degree spin of this bed frame from Leggett & Platt allows the customer to focus on certain design features that may get lost in a group setting. Ideally, we would do a simple spin of the group for reference, and a more complex 360 degree spin of the individual pieces.
Are there size limits for furniture?
The large platform has a 9.2 foot usable rotating plate, and the carousel has a 16.5 foot plate, which basically leaves us with no size restrictions! We’ve photographed everything from a rooftop commercial AC unit to a large truck on our carousel platform.
When it comes to animated 360 degree spins, which types of furniture typically work best?
When we say “animation”, we are basically talking stop-motion photography within a 360 degree image. We will stop the machines at a certain point, and move parts of the product. A great example would be this dresser, we are opening up the drawers and at different points in the spin. As the customer moves the dresser in the online viewer, they will experience exactly how it looks and the amount of available storage. Animation is a great way to demonstrate the features and functions of many types of furniture, and works well for products that have custom or mobile features.
Can you provide any best practices for lighting when it comes to photographing furniture in 360?
Large soft light sources are used to evenly illuminate products. This allows the online customer to see every detail of the furniture. “Moody” or hard lighting may work in certain environments to create shape in the furniture piece, but we efficiently show the shape through spinning the object. Again, we are trying to give the customer as much detailed visual information about the furniture piece as possible. We also hold to commercial studio industry standards such as color calibrated monitors and white balancing the cameras against our strobes.
What is the biggest challenge when photographing furniture?
Reflections for 360 degree photography are always a challenge, and larger scale products like furniture will only compound those issues. Photographers always do their best to minimize this as much as physically possible. For example, a chrome vase or chair will literally reflect every nook and cranny of the studio. However, solid photography techniques and expertise allow us to block out the reflection and ensure that it appears in the best way possible.
What is the biggest consideration when photographing furniture?
Styling is always important to take into consideration — the time needed to steam wrinkles, clean fabric, straighten fabric or shine wood can take a great deal of time. Assembly is also a very time consuming portion of production. Unfortunately not everything goes together as easy as an Ikea cabinet. Making sure you know how to put an item together properly, with no missing pieces when received, is a skill and uses manpower to assemble.
Traditionally furniture items were built “photo ready” — meaning they only had to look good from the front. However, in 360 degree photography there is no place to hide. We are showing the customer an entire view of the furniture, which will also show any subtle differences between similar pieces. One last, but very important thing to consider is the logistics around a 360 degree photography project. Large items require adequate space for storage, and proper tools and skills to move them to and from set.
Do you have more questions about photographing furniture in 360 degrees? Contact us today, and we’ll put you in touch with our experts here at 1WorldSync!