Single Point vs Two Point Perspectives for Interior Photography

Just like any other genre of photography, when photographing interiors, composition is king.  A good composition can save an otherwise technically mediocre photograph.  Most people will look for what's in a photograph first and then make any judgements about how well lit or exposed it is after they've evaluated the content.

Of course nailing the composition and the technical aspects of the photo are the goal :)

With real estate and architectural interior photography there are typically two choices for how to frame any given composition.  One point or two point perspectives.

One point perspective of a TV room

One point perspective of a TV room

It has been said that the most powerful way to frame a composition is by using the one point perspective.  The photo above, from a recent real estate photo shoot, is a great example of this.  The viewer is drawn to the windows at the far end of this room and is taken there by the lines of the TV and furniture on the left, and the couch and wall art on the right.

By getting all of the leading lines straight and well balanced, a striking composition is possible.

Two point perspective of a TV Room

Two point perspective of a TV Room

Here is the exact same room framed with a two point perspective.  This simply means that there are two areas that the viewer will be drawn to when first looking at the photo.  In this case those two areas are the windows on the left wall, and the couch and art on the right wall.

This works well for documenting the space, but in the case of real estate photography, where shooting very wide is required, there can be some distortion of how things are actually arranged in the room.  For instance, notice the portion of the TV and associated furniture shown in the left most side of the composition.  It appears to be running at a different angle than the couch on the other side of the room.  And we know from the one point photo of this same room that this is not the case.

One point perspective of the bag drop area

One point perspective of the bag drop area

This is a more dramatic example of how to control the motion in the photo using a single point perspective.  Here the viewer is drawn through the bag drop area, with the bench and coat/bag hooks on the left, into the bedroom at the far end of the photograph.

Personally I think a photo like this is far more interesting.  It not only creates motion, by giving the viewer a clear path through the photo, it creates anticipation of what lies ahead in the other room.  And by making the light a little brighter in the far room, it accentuates the effect of moving through the image.

If the purpose of the photos is to either get the viewer to visit the space to explore more of it (think real estate marketing) or to continue looking at the article, advertisement, or other marketing use of the photo, then the single point can be of great value.

Two point perspective of the bag drop area

Two point perspective of the bag drop area

Here you can see how much less impactful a two point perspective can be.  In the case of the bag drop area the space looks small and cramped because it is narrow to begin with and trying to show two points (or walls) adds to this idea that the space is quite small.

Single point perspective of the main living area

Single point perspective of the main living area

Here we have the windows at the far end of the room as the single point of focus in the photograph.  It is framed nicely by the leading lines of the TV and fireplace on the left and the couch on the right with a peek into the breakfast area as well.  The viewer of this photo discovers plenty about the living area, as well as gains an idea that there is a porch through the windows and begins to want to see more of that and the breakfast area.  This again creates motion as the viewer "travels" to these other areas.

Two point perspective of the main living area

Two point perspective of the main living area

And finally we take a look at the two point perspective of the main living area.  It has the same characteristics as the other two point images.  Notice the distorted proportions of the couch on the right.  This just cannot be avoided with camera lens optics being what they are.  The couch is the object closest to the camera, so it appears to be larger, especially with a wide angle lens.

I shoot both compositions as part of my offering.  Especially when it come to real estate photography.  But I must say that in general, I am quite a bit more partial to the single point perspective.

 
Bob Fortner