The Internet and Google have introduced me to an endless supply of brilliant photographers who deserve recognition. Teagan Cunniffe, Photo Editor at Getaway, is one of them. She grew up in Durban, in a household with a steady diet of 4×4 adventures and camping trips. Both of which most definitely influenced her outlook on life and the importance travel has to play in it.
Traveler – Writer – Photographer
When Teagan was younger, she dreamt of being a travel photographer and saw Getaway magazine as the ultimate South African publication to work for. Life happened and she veered off course. Photography wasn’t part of the plan and she ended up with another degree. Photography just happened to be something she enjoyed doing and made money from.
Slowly, her original idea of having a career in travel and photography started taking shape. Now, one of the ways she funds her travel dreams is through her architectural photography work, stating that: “My 12-year old self would have been so chuffed.”
The best lens for interiors
I asked Teagan which lens she favours when shooting interiors and she said that while she likes her wide-angle, which comes in handy for getting the whole place into a shot, she also feels that it “distorts the impression of a venue”. The wide-angle lens can make a room appear wider that it actually is and may create a false perception of what they will see when they visit the place.
Therefore, Teagan prefers working with what she describes as, “ a somewhat zoomed in shot – around 40mm – using my 24-70mm”. She explains that using this technique you will most probably have to move furniture around and find the ideal composition to give enough description of the place. And though it might be a challenge, she feels that it gives the viewer an accurate and very often, a more attractive story about the venue’s character.
Teagan’s list of photographic equipment:
- Canon 5D Mark II
- Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L USM Lens
- Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens
- Canon Speedlite 580-EXII
- Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT
- Pocket Wizard Triggers
Teagan explains how to expose for both inside and outside
She says that there are a few ways you can go about doing this.
The first way will be by creating an HDR image. But with a large workload she finds this method to be very time-consuming and often somewhat unattractive.
2) External Flash
Use the external flashes to illuminate interiors and balance outside light.
3) Shoot at dawn or dusk
The most common technique of balancing internal and external exposure is to shoot when the ambient light outside is softer, around dawn or dusk. Then, switch on all the lights inside and maybe light some candles and fires to achieve a balance between the scenes.
4) Leave the outside overexposed
Sometimes Teagan leaves the outside overexposed to spread a beautiful glow of light into the room. This being her personal preference. “I love the cascade of clean light that floods in, giving the interior a bright, fresh feel.”
Tips for interior photography
If you don’t have a tilt-shift lens (Teagan’s next dream buy!) then getting angles straight can be a challenge. Use a tripod, switch on the live-view and angle your camera until all of the lines (walls, ceilings, desks etc.) are parallel or perpendicular to each other. This will save you time trying to straighten it in Photoshop later on.
Start off working with a clean scene and then slowly break down the scene by draping a throw across the bed, laying a book on the table, etc. This will give a room or venue a more live-in feel. Human or animal presence works well to make it personable and relatable.
Most importantly, try to get the interior atmosphere across in the images you capture. Show what is alluring about the place or landscape and convince the viewer why they should visit it themselves.
Can I become a paid-photographer, and how?
If you are interested in becoming a paid photographer, Teagan gives the following advice: Start by shooting venues nearby you. Photograph a commercial building, a friend’s house or (if you can get permission) a lodge. Develop your online portfolio and start networking with other photographers in the field. Once your website has a strong following, start approaching companies or lodges and show them how their venue can benefit from the improved marketing material you will capture. Soon enough, opportunities will start coming your way.
Teagan would love to photograph the underwater room at The Manta Resort on Pemba Island in Tanzania. “It looks incredibly beautiful and shooting there would fit both my architectural and travel aspirations.” She describes her work as colourful, balanced and light, and we couldn’t agree more.
Her images might inspire some of you to grab you camera and start taking photographs, and others might want to pack their bags and travel to the beautiful destinations’ she photographs. A sign of a job well done!