Tips on how to take good pictures of your natural home


Natural Homes wants to get as many people as possible excited about using natural materials to build sustainable, healthy, safe and beautiful homes. Part of the challenge of reaching a mainstream audience is having good quality pictures of the wonderful homes people build together. This article helps you understand what a good picture is and why it works well.




The Zen View

A Zen view, illustrated in the picture above, is when your view of something in the distance is framed and restricted by the foreground. It makes the distant object more intriguing, something to investigate, to be curious about. It makes the building more attractive than it might have been without the Zen framing. The Zen view works best if the foreground frame is natural like the branches of a tree. It can also be achieved by using objects in the foreground combined with the child's view (see below).

Find out about this straw bale building.






The Oblique View

The best angle to take on a building is a corner shot where you can see two walls of the building at the same time. If possible, as illustrated in the picture right, also try to get a view of the roof. For all the pictures you take it's a good idea to be aware of the various design patterns from A Pattern Language, a design book by Christopher Alexander. This picture captures the following patterns but the house could just have easily been photographed without them: No.111 Half-hidden garden, No.112 Entrance transition, No.117 Sheltering roof. Additionally the windows of this house shows pattern No.239 Small panes. It would have be difficult to avoid taking a picture of the house without showing this feature but this picture emphasises the pattern because of the strong reflected light in the attic window which also draws attention to pattern No.117 the sheltering aspect of the roof. All together these features make the building attractive and a share worthy picture in social media circles.

Find out about the thatched cottage right.









The Child's View

When you were a child everything was a mystery to you. You can take an onlooker back to those days by taking a picture of your home from knee height. This also helps to introduce foreground into the picture and can, if you're clever at using plants, offer partial Zen elements.

You can see another example of this at work in this picture of a jumbo straw bale guesthouse in Italy.

About this home: In the mid 1800s, when this Norwegian home was built, there was a strict tradition of inheritance where the 2nd child of a farmer may become landless, known as a Husmann (in English a Cotter). This cotter's farm is at the Norwegian Folk Museum in Oslo.









The Setting View

You can make the home attractive, not by taking a picture of the home directly but by using the home as a foreground to the environment around the building. Doing this implicitly lends the quality of the view to the building. Of course this can backfire if you are looking over a motorway, but most naturally built homes are placed sympathetically in their environment so it's likely there is a good angle you can take for your home.

Find out about the Italian Trulli.









The Tidy Natural View

Even though this house has just been built the grounds around it have been tidied up with some minimal landscaping but more importantly there are no tarpaulins, plastic chairs and buckets or ladders lying around.

This picture would have been improved with more light and shade contrast and some life in the building by leaving the door and one of the lower sash windows open with perhaps some flowers on the windowsill. More improvements by taking the child's view with some of the bushes on the left of this home in the foreground.

A pattern language trick would be to hide the line between the building and the ground with a stack of firewood and/or a garden bench. Dressing the building helps the building's connection to the earth, pattern No.168.

More about this straw bale house.









The Light & Shade View

Ideally the building should show some light and shade contrast as in the picture illustrating the oblique view above, but you can achieve the same balance by moving the camera into the shade and taking the picture of the house in full sunlight. This adds the element of mystery similar to the child's view.

More about this Celtic roundhouse.













The Close and Distant View

Finding a view of the home that includes foreground objects, in this case a garden bench and distant objects, here the trees in the background, helps to put the building in its environment. This picture also illustrates the oblique view and light and shade contrast. Note too that there are no unnatural materials cluttering the scene. The picture would be improved by some sign of life in the building like opening the window or door and maybe adding a basket of food to the seat of bench with a tablecloth hanging down.

Find out more about this straw bale cottage in Poland.