Doors are having an Instagram moment. There are more than 1.3 million photos tagged #doors on the photo-sharing platform, and there are dozen of accounts dedicated to the doortrait around the globe. San Francisco-based photographer Julie Gebhardt is among the doortrait experts, so we turned to her for advice on how to turn the most utilitarian of building features into the perfect ‘gram.
Choose your door wisely
When it comes to picking the perfect door, it’s all about what grabs your attention. It could be a small detail, a pop of color, or an elaborate decorative accessory. “Doors are as unique as people, and what draws you to a door is a very personal attraction,” says Gebhardt. “It may be a handsome ornate door, or a stark minimal door that catches your eye. Slowing down to take a walk and beginning to notice doors is the first step.”
Consider the composition
“Decide if you want to isolate the door in your shot or include its surroundings. Take several photos from varying distances to give yourself different cropping options,” says Gebhardt. “You can take a minimal approach to emphasize a solitary door, which is especially successful if the surrounding wall is a vibrant color. Or the composition can include the context of surrounding details that creates a larger scene of interest.”
Choosing the proper composition doesn’t only matter while you’re framing the shot—the crop you make in editing software or on Instagram can make or break your image. “When cropping the photograph, be sure to look at the entire frame and remove any extraneous details like the edge of a car or an unwanted shadow that will distract the viewer’s eye,” Gebhardt says.
Lighting is key
No matter how much you filter an image, it’s hard to post a pretty picture if the lighting is all wrong. Time of day is important if you’re trying to nab the perfect shot. “Strong mid-day sunlight generates shadows that can add interest or be problematic, depending on your inclination. Morning or evening light is softer. Experiment to discover your own particular lighting preferences,” Gebhardt says.
Posture is important
Practicing good posture applies as much here as it does, well, anywhere. “Position your body straight and hold your camera or cell phone parallel to the wall you are photographing. If your device is tilted, the door will have a convergence distortion that is less than pleasing. A door that is plumb, level, and square is the goal,” says Gebhardt. “Taking a moment to organize your positioning will yield a better result.”
Don’t ignore the details
“Door knobs, hinges, doorbells, mail slots, keyholes, and house numbers are visually striking when photographed well,” says Gebhardt. “Hold your device very steady to achieve a crisp image when shooting up close. Consider using the macro feature to get a lot of detail and texture.”
Create a narrative
The best photography tells a story without a single word. “Finding doors with a quirky detail that tells a story about the resident will make your door photograph unique,” says Gebhardt. “A half-finished paint job, odd combination of house numbers, a handwritten note stuck to the door frame—these details add personality to your shot. The best compliment is when the viewer says, ‘I would never have noticed that!’”
Published on April 22, 2017