How to Make Sellable Interior Design Photos Using Retouching Techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop

In this article we talk about taking your interior design photos to the next level with Lightroom and Photoshop so that they will sell!

Bonjour bonjour bonjour! Hello fellow photo enthusiasts and lovers of fine pixels! So today you were probably thinking, hmmm how can I take better interior design photos and your search led you to here!

So I want to show you how to make your interior design photos pop using Lightroom and Photoshop so you can get a before and after like this:

As usual, if you want the RAW files for this tutorial and all my other free presets and goodies, just subscribe to my newsletter here. You can also follow along on my video tutorial for this lesson here.

Okay so let’s get into it. Interior Design and Architectural photos can be a great source of income for photographers because people always need them for hotels, real estate and even fine art magazines amongst others. But the competition can be fierce so you have to be really good.

For this photo of a hotel called the Regent in Paris, several photographers tried to take photo of this space but the owner never liked it and so I tried to find the perfect composition to make the room look the nicest, but I knew that wouldn’t be enough. I knew that I had to use some secret sauce and secret formula to sell the job.

If you want a full walkthrough on composition, you can get the Interior Design course but for retouching, unlike certain unnamed soda companies, I will give you the secrets!!!! Of the universe!!!! Well at least for Interior Design retouching. Ok? So this is the first photo:

Step 1. Adjust White Balance. On this photo you can see that the white balance is off, it is really warm and the room is totally white. It hurts my eyes to see it this bad! But it warms my heart knowing I can show YOU how to fix it. (And in case I forgot to say it: always shoot with the RAW format so you can change color balance!)

So I usually try different White Balance modes until I find right one for the photo. On this photo I am not going to use the preset white balance, I am going to use the white balance tool which is the one next to the colored sliders. I take the tool and click on something white. It is going to take any colorcast out.

My eyes feel better with a proper white balance:

Step 2. Adjust the Highlights and Shadow. I open up the shadows to +100 and the highlights to -100 as usual. (If you have read my tutorials or watched my videos, you know this is part of my workflow. You can get a more complete statement on why I do this in almost all my photographs by reading this how to article here. )

Step 3. Adjust the exposure. I think that the photo is a bit dark so I boost the exposure a little bit:

Step 4. Adjust the Whites and the Blacks. Next I will increase my whites to +30 and my blacks to -27. On this photo I don’t care that the light are burn because I am going for an ultra-white look. (If you’ve read my tutorials or watched my videos, you know this is part of my workflow. You can get a more complete statement on why I do this in almost all my photographs by reading this how to article here.)

Step 5. Create radial filters to complexify the light. To make the lighting more interesting I usually use a Lightroom Local Adjustment filter like the Radial filter. I create a circle and invert the mask to have the effect applied inside the circle, I feather it at 77 and I boost the exposure:

To copy the radial filter, I press the alt and command key and I keep lighting some spot on the photo to make the light more interesting. I put them randomly:

This is the before the radial filter:

And this is the after radial filter:

Now that I look at the photo I want to boost even more the exposure, this is just my taste:

Step 6: Noise reduction. When I took this photo, it was a bit underexposed and this is something to be careful of. Why you ask? Well let me tell you: when you have an underexposed photo and then you bring back the exposure it will create noise. The good news is that Lightroom can really help correct that. So let’s go to the Lightroom Detail panel to correct that. Go ahead and set the noise reduction at around 40 and the sharpening at around 60:


Step 7. Lens Correction. Inside this panel go ahead and select Enable Profile Correction, Remove Chromatic Aberration and Auto Upright to make sure that any distortion, or defects created by the lens are removed. Also watch how the Lightroom Auto Upright function straightens up the vertical lines. Pretty cool right? No? Just useful you say??? Well okay. Pretty useful right? Ahem, moving on.

Step 8. Crop the photo. The crop tool is really useful to crop things that you don’t want in your photo or just to make your photo more panoramic. On this photo I want to crop out the blue coming from the windows at the top right:

This is the before photo:

And this is the after photo:

Step 9. Erase distractions: It’s the rare occasion in Interior Design photos that the room is perfectly set-up for you to photo, so you have to be cautious to look for things that someone subconsciously might be distracted by. Like those wrinkles on the bed, it could trigger all sorts of sub-conscious turmoil!!! Just kidding, but they don’t look good. So let’s go to Photoshop to fix this. I right click on the Photo> Edit In> Edit in Photoshop CC:

I duplicate the background in dragging it down:

My tip to remove those wrinkles is to blur them so it look smooth so I go to filter > blur > Gaussian blur:

16 radius is good:

I want to hide the first layer so I press the alt key and I click on the mask tool at the bottom of the layers section:

Make sure that white is the foreground color, and I take a brush and I just brush the white over the wrinkles, I make sure that opacity is at around 80:

I brush over the pillows because there are wrinkled a little bit:

That really makes the fabric very smooth and nicer looking. So the eyes are not distracted by details like that. If you do a mistake just press x and it will undo what you have done with the brush.

This is before the brush:

And this is after the brush:

Once I am happy with the result I save it and go back to Lightroom.

Here is the before photo:

And this is the after photo:

There you go!!! And for those of you who want more on Interior Design Photography including composition techniques, check out the course shown alongside this article. I also have other videos on youtube and will have even more blog articles shortly!

Remember, you always want to put your best foot forward on your photos. Take the time to retouch them and make them pop. I got so much work from that one photo and a lot of money, so trust me my friends, take the time to make them great!

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and learned the basic retouch of interior design with this article! If you liked it please share it and remember to subscribe to the newsletter to get all the updates and new tutorials as they come along.

Thank you for your support and Au revoir!

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