how to take cozy photos on your smartphone

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The season for warm photos of its interior is open. An exercise that seems simple at first glance, but which requires a certain rigor in order to properly transcribe the atmosphere of winter by the fireside. Here are our tips.

Winter is here, the sun is setting early and Christmas is just around the corner. Nothing better to enjoy a hot chocolate, films under the duvet, decorations and beautiful garlands that brighten up our interiors. Even if it means staying warm and not going out, you might as well take the opportunity to also take beautiful interior photos to keep busy and continue to exercise. With a little technique and ideas, your smartphone will allow you great feats to take your pictures like the ones we see on Pinterest and Instagram during this time of year.

It all starts with the staging

Cozy interior photos are very often staged. Unless you live in a show apartment where everything is very carefully thought out and positioned in advance, it is not uncommon to have to do your own staging to take your interior photos. So, just like shooting still lifes or product photos, it’s important to think about the elements and their placement, colors, and light in your photo.

Feel free to add decorative elements that you don’t necessarily use every day. This can be wooden elements, for example, but also lights or different textures which give a visual impression of a “cozy” space. Rugs, throws, scarves, your pets, or even why not individuals participate in the good composition of your photo. You will understand, creating an atmosphere is essential for a beautiful interior photo with a comfortable, warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Source: Céline Nebor with the Samsung Galaxy S21

Source: Céline Nebor with the Samsung Galaxy S21

Favor close-ups and large openings

To add more character to your image, prefer close-ups or tight shots that accentuate this feeling of a cozy and reassuring place. You can better focus on the main elements of your image rather than the surrounding space which is not always of interest.

Here I got closer to simple elements that I focused on (via portrait mode) and used other decorative elements in the background like the fir tree and the faux fireplace to give consistency to my image.

Here I got closer to simple elements that I focused on (via portrait mode) and used other decorative elements in the background like the fir tree and the faux fireplace to give consistency to my image. // Source: Céline Nebor with the Samsung Galaxy S21

By choosing a large aperture, you can play on the depth of field. In practice, this will allow you to focus on a very distinct element. The rest of the image will be blurry. If you cannot select the aperture manually, be sure to focus on the item that interests you most. You can also try portrait mode (which we have done on most of the images, all captured on the Samsung Galaxy S21) which allows you to isolate a subject well by artificially creating blur around the main element.

You can also play on the different planes, to accentuate this notion of depth of field even more and to make your image appear blurry.

For this image, I approached very close to the tree that I placed on the right of my image to reveal this beautiful armchair occupied by Gibus, the cat on which I focused.  The different shots and the use of portrait mode thus accentuate the blur and give a nice visual impression for this cozy interior photo.

For this image, I approached very close to the tree that I placed on the right of my image to reveal this beautiful armchair occupied by Gibus, the cat on which I focused. The different shots and the use of portrait mode thus accentuate the blur and give a nice visual impression for this cozy interior photo. // Source: Céline Nebor with the Samsung Galaxy S21

In this period, it is also the perfect opportunity to place a light garland in the foreground or in the background. This accentuates the bokeh effect even more and brings a nice bright touch to your images. However, the light from a fairy lights alone is often insufficient. We therefore recommend using a complementary main light to best expose your image and optimize quality.

As in the previous images, the light garlands used in the foreground or in the background add a little cozy touch if you know how to control the depth of field and focus in the right place.  Portrait mode was used to accentuate the blur.

As in the previous images, the light garlands used in the foreground or in the background add a little cozy touch if you know how to control the depth of field and focus in the right place. Portrait mode was used to accentuate the blur. // Source: Céline Nebor with the Samsung Galaxy S21

Use natural light

If you have less control over artificial light with your smartphone, move closer to natural light. Large windows are obviously appreciated. You can thus carry out your staging nearby. Orient your scenography facing the window to take advantage of all the natural light and avoid backlighting to optimize your image as well as possible.

I positioned this tray facing the window to get as much light as possible and easily achieve my image (portrait mode enabled).

I positioned this tray facing the window to get as much light as possible and easily achieve my image (portrait mode enabled). // Source: Céline Nebor with the Samsung Galaxy S21

I photographed the cozy space near my window mainly made up of plants for a change of style and using only natural light.

I photographed the cozy space near my window mainly made up of plants for a change of style and using only natural light. // Source: Céline Nebor with the Samsung Galaxy S21

Use warming filters (yellow filter, etc.)

If you like the ambiance of your photo, but the final rendering is too cold for your liking, do not hesitate to add photo filters, preferring a yellow cast. You can also adjust the white balance if your editing applications allow it or vary the color temperature. The higher the temperature, the more yellow and warm the photo will be. Different options are available to you to warm up your image and accentuate this feeling of comfort for a particularly cozy image.

Here are several examples of rendering by applying different filters available in the Samsung Galaxy S21 photo application (Lolli, Fleur, Ivory, Sifted,):

Look for inspiration

To find new ideas, do not hesitate to browse the different sites or photo networks for inspiration. On Instagram or Pinterest, using the right hashtags and keywords, you’ll find plenty of ideas and resources to inspire you. Instagram’s hashtag #cosyhome, for example, includes very beautiful photos of warm interiors. The same term used on Pinterest is also full of inspiration. Watch the composition, the lights or the objects in the photos to breathe new life into your cozy shots.

Here are two examples of images obtained by typing “cozy photography”On Unsplash.

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