I need to know whether there are any techniques to make a building appear larger. I need to film a house; inside and outside.

For outside I've thought about positioning the camera low down on the ground, is this a technique that photographers use? I am wondering about wide angle lenses, wouldn't that make the house appear smaller? I reckon a wide angle lens inside is a must.

I'm also thinking about Depth of Field, and whether that would have any positive or negative effects?

Any tips and links to techniques or ideas, would be great! I will be taking video rather than still shots, but the same principles still apply

  • 1
    you wouldn't be trying to misrepresent anything, would you?
    – AJ Finch
    Feb 8 '12 at 16:43
  • 2
    @AJFinch, is it any different than a portrait/glamour photographer trying to make his subject look attractive? Real estate photographers try to make their subject look big, in the same way that fashion photographers don't.
    – coneslayer
    Feb 8 '12 at 17:14
  • The one difference is that (at least in the US), it can be problematic to knowingly misrepresent real estate that is for sale, as it can be considered a form of fraud.
    – chills42
    Feb 8 '12 at 19:01
  • 1
    @chills42 Do you have reason to believe that the routine photographic choices under discussion (choice of focal length, camera position, etc.) constitute fraud in that sense? It's not like he asked about photoshopping a swimming pool into the back yard.
    – coneslayer
    Feb 8 '12 at 19:31
  • No I don't think there is anything wrong here, just a friendly reminder and a clarification of one possible reason for AJ's question.
    – chills42
    Feb 8 '12 at 19:33

There are plenty of techniques to distort the size of objects in photographs or cinema that are as old as the hills. The best and most used is forced perspective.

The brain is hardwired to make scale conversions based on distance, so if you can place an object close to the camera but conceal it's actual distance then the brain will perceive the object as being much larger than it is as the increase is size due to perspective is mistaken for an increase in object's actual size:

Here a person is placed closer to the camera than the tower, by cropping the persons feet out of the shot the difference in distance is masked causing the person to appear much larger (ok maybe not ;)

Other than that there are POV (point of view) techniques that trick the brain as it will assume the footage is shot from head-height. Shooting up with a wide angle lens will invoke this effect:

Depth of field usually has the opposite effect, as in a very shallow depth of field tricks the brain into thinking something is very small:

  • 2
    Just out of curiosity...that last photo...that IS a miniature, right? The pose of the guy on the bridge is really unnatural (looks like a mini figurine)...and I think I see a few human hairs laying around... ;) The DOF helps enhance the effect, but its small to begin with, I believe.
    – jrista
    Feb 8 '12 at 18:34
  • jrista, I think that one was tilt-shifted, either using a software or using a tilt-shift lens :) Feb 8 '12 at 20:24
  • 1
    @jrista it's a photo of real life sized buildings made to look like a miniature, I photoshopped in the hairs and figures. See: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/15929/…
    – Matt Grum
    Feb 8 '12 at 22:37
  • @MattGrum: AH! Thanks for the reference photos. Makes a lot more sense now. :)
    – jrista
    Feb 8 '12 at 22:48

Other answers already covered the technical aspects of making things look bigger but there are also other non-photographic tricks:

  • More empty space makes things look bigger, so remove as much stuff/furniture as you can.
  • People judge size by proportions, so getting smaller furniture makes the space look bigger.
  • Brighter places look bigger, so you can add more light or increase exposure.

And, yes, definitely go wide-angle with a low shooting level. Keep things near the foreground and background, so that people get a better sense of depth.


Since it's video you could try a little trick to make the rooms feel a little larger inside. Whenever you pan the camera rather than just turning your body instead try to move yourself and the camera about a fixed point just in front of the camera. Using a wide lens this can make the room feel a little larger.

Watch out though, the further in front of the camera you make the fixed point the more you will be misrepresenting the space and the easier it will be for the viewer to notice something is off.

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