This old adage is true in many ways.. besides being one of the primary work spaces, it ends up being one of the primary gathering spaces in a home.  I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen everyone at a party packed tightly into the kitchen leaving the rest of the home virtually empty.  To take advantage of this tendency, modern homes are being designed with much more open floor plans to allow the kitchen to be included in the social space.  Often, only a bar or counter separates the kitchen from the dining or living areas.

When I photograph a kitchen, I want to be sure that the viewer gets a feel for what the space is like.  Is it cozy?  Roomy?  Warm?  Modern?  I also want to showcase the features.  A wide shot will show the general style of the room and the style of the appliances.  It will also give a feel about how traffic will flow through the room and how the workspace is situated.  I also tend to show more of the flooring in a kitchen shot than I normally do since many owners put more thought and detail into the kitchen flooring than in other rooms of the house.

Showing more detail in the cabinets and the appliances is important since the viewer will want to see the type, style, and condition of these key components.  Ironically, it’s not actually important to include all of the appliance in a photo.  Showing half of a stove tells the viewer many things about it: where it’s located, the style, the configuration, and the general condition.

I love the previous shot because it says a lot about that kitchen.  It shows off the style well and gives the viewer a strong feeling that it has a classic look.  The cabinet style is displayed as are the beautiful granite counter tops.  The high-end appliances can also be seen by the range top and by the reflection of the stoves in the mirror.  The best thing about the photo is that the client – who happens to be a staging company – has their work shown off well.

There are several unique challenges that I face when photographing a kitchen.  Because there are a lot of points of interest in a kitchen, it can be tough to have a picture that doesn’t have too much detail.  If too many things are brought into the picture, the net result is a cluttered image that makes it tough to focus on any one aspect of the room.

Another challenge unique to kitchens is the large number of highly reflective surfaces.  I take pride in not being in my own pictures – and in some kitchens that is nearly impossible.  Even if there aren’t any mirrors like in the image above – I am frequently surprised with how clearly a reflective microwave oven door shows off reflections.  That’s a challenge to Photoshop out if it’s a complex reflection.

I was originally in this picture.  I could see myself clearly in the reflections on the microwave door.  Fifteen minutes in Photoshop was required to make sure I wasn’t in the final picture.  I’m sure that’s not a completely accurate reflection shown in the picture now – but the reflection is believable and that’s what is important.

Color balance is more challenging in the kitchen than in other rooms – especially kitchens where there is a lot of woodwork.  The reflected light from the cabinets always has a strong color cast from being reflected off of the wood.  Care has to be taken to get a good white balance reading that has wall-to-wall cherry cupboards (everything gets very orange/red) or oak (yellow).  If everything is white – the camera metering is fooled into making everything very yellow and dark.

I always spend extra time in the kitchen making sure that I have the best pictures that I can because kitchens are often the signature room in the house.  If it doesn’t display well, the entire property won’t get the attention that it should.

Next week, I’ll be taking a look at the other big social space in a home – the living room.

Go Somewhere Special…

Mark Teskey

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