Master Any Lighting Setup With The Help Of set.a.light 3D


5/16/2024 Matt 0 Comments

Interior photography is an art that demands a keen eye, precise composition, and a deep understanding of light and space. Steven Broke, a renowned architectural photographer, explores how interior photographers can draw inspiration from classical painters to enhance their craft. 

By studying the works of Caravaggio, Vermeer, Hopper, Mondrian, and Saenredam, photographers can adopt techniques that bring depth, drama, and structure to their images.

1. Caravaggio: Master of Light and Shadow

Caravaggio’s work is a testament to the power of controlled lighting. Known for his dramatic chiaroscuro technique, Caravaggio used a single light source to create deep shadows and striking highlights, guiding the viewer's eye through the composition.

In interior photography, this approach can be replicated by using strong, directional lighting to highlight key elements of a space. For example, in Broke’s project photographing a blacksmith’s shop, he employed 1000-watt lights to mimic Caravaggio’s dramatic effects, emphasizing the textures and details of the scene.

2. Vermeer: The Poet of Light

Johannes Vermeer’s meticulous use of soft, natural light and his rigorous compositional techniques provide a wealth of inspiration. Vermeer’s interiors often feature a single window as the light source, creating a gentle, diffuse illumination that adds a serene quality to his paintings.

In photography, this can be achieved by utilizing natural window light to create a calm and inviting atmosphere. Broke’s images, such as those shot at Gunston Hall and Belle Meade, capture this soft lighting to bring out the textures and subtleties of the interior spaces.

3. Edward Hopper: Off-Axis Views and Proportional Precision

Edward Hopper’s off-axis compositions and precise use of proportions can guide photographers in creating balanced and dynamic images. Hopper’s paintings often feature carefully placed vertical and horizontal elements that guide the viewer’s eye and add depth to the scene.

Broke applies these principles by using rectangular armatures and diagonal lines to position elements within the frame, ensuring that each part of the image contributes to the overall composition. This technique is evident in his library shots, where furniture and decor placement follow a calculated geometric pattern.

4. Piet Mondrian: Structural Clarity

Piet Mondrian’s abstract compositions, characterized by their rectilinear forms and bold use of color, offer a unique perspective on organizing complex spaces. Mondrian’s work demonstrates how to balance negative space with areas of activity, creating harmony within the composition.

In interior photography, this translates to thoughtfully arranging elements within a space to avoid clutter and maintain visual balance. Broke’s approach to photographing a boy’s bedroom by Suzanne Martinson involved selectively filling spaces and using darkened areas to create a Mondrian-like pattern, enhancing the room’s aesthetic appeal.

5. Pieter Saenredam: Low Eye Height for Perspective Control

Pieter Saenredam’s architectural paintings are known for their precise perspective and low eye height, which helps avoid foreground distortion. By positioning the camera close to the ground, Saenredam maintained the integrity of the architectural forms while allowing the structures to dominate the composition.

Broke employs this technique in various projects, such as his photographs of Miami International Airport and a Holly Hunt showroom. By keeping the camera low, he ensures that the ceilings soar overhead without the foreground appearing distorted, maintaining a natural and inviting perspective.


Studying the works of these five masters—Caravaggio, Vermeer, Hopper, Mondrian, and Saenredam—can significantly enhance an interior photographer’s skill set. Each artist offers unique insights into light, composition, and perspective, which can be applied to create compelling and visually striking photographs. By integrating these classical techniques, photographers can elevate their work, creating images that capture spaces and tell a story.

For those looking to delve deeper into these techniques and more, Steven Broke’s comprehensive resources, including his book "Architectural Photography and Composition" and his online course, provide invaluable guidance for mastering the art of interior design photography.

Image and video via steven brooke