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How to select the ideal place to record an interior interview

Finding a location where your subject has lots of space behind is the easiest way to get the look that you are after. This is because it's not always easy to set the camera a long distance from the subject.

The best way to achieve this look is to set a good distance from the subject. Here are some things to keep in mind.

If the best place is the lounge room, use a sofa or lounge chair; it’s a natural place to sit and tend to make it look a little less staged.

If the sofa is positioned against a wall, slide it out and ask them to sit at one end turned, with their back facing more towards the background rather than the back of the sofa.

A high back on a chair can also be unfortunate so in this case, position the camera so that you’re shooting along the length and looking into the background. A cushion placed into the corner will make them more comfortable and less likely to slump.

If it’s an office situation and there’s only office chairs in abundance, then preferably use one that has arm rests, doesn’t swivel and doesn’t have a high back – again, you need to see as much as you can into the background.

Place the chair about three meters from your camera position, turn it so that it’s orientated at around 30 degrees to the camera. When your subject is seated, this easily turns the shoulders so that they’re not square on in the frame, looking a bit like the coat hanger. There’s a few other reasons why this orientation works.

The subject is now able to look comfortably to the interviewer without having to turn their head; they’re already facing them. Your interviewer must be positioned in a similar chair around the same height and be close to the camera. It’s critical that you see both eyes of your subject, so an eye-line just off the camera-line is perfect. This makes an engaging interview.

Look for a place in a room where there’s space and depth behind. Sliding a sofa to a position where you can see deep into the rest of the room is the best idea. One reason for doing this is to take advantage of this distance behind by framing your subject on a longer lens. This will give you a beautifully defocused background. This approach will also give you the space to hide a kick-light and a background light.

As part of your background choice, look for an area of the room that reveals to your audience some clues about your subject. A bookcase full of books or sideboard displaying photographs is good value, and you’ll be able to use them as a way to balance the overall composition. An interview has to be well framed – you can spend a lot of time look at them.

Don’t ever be happy to settle for a position where your subject is seated with a wall immediately behind.

© 2013 Pieter de Vries ACS