Quick tips: Photographing doors

November 2, 2016

Whether single, double, sliding or folding, doors create entrances and exits. They mark boundaries between spaces, protect our valuables and help keep our loved ones safe. We use doors in our everyday language to describe periods of transition – ‘when one door closes, another one opens’ – and to suggest possibilities – ‘when opportunity knocks, open the door’. Doors represent beginnings, endings and the movement from one state to another. As such, they make fascinating subjects for photography.

When we look at the front of a house we assume a lot about its occupants, and the front door plays a huge part in this. We can study the paintwork, look at the knocker or bell, or observe the tidiness of the surrounding foliage. All this tells a story.

  1. Many people hang wreaths or decorations on their front door. Take a series of pictures featuring these elements and turn them into a collage. Do the same for door knockers, letterboxes and house numbers.
  2. Doorways create wonderful framing devices, so wait for someone to enter or walk past. Keep an eye out for pets, particularly cats, that may settle on a doorstep, providing a sense of scale.
  3. To avoid converging verticals, shoot from a distance with a lens with a longish focal length. Use your camera’s electronic level/guides to keep things straight. Pick a bright, but overcast, day to minimise shadows.
  4. Move in close to create abstract shots of peeling paintwork. Unless it’s your front door, it’s a good idea to knock first to ask for permission. Look for textured wood, rusty nails and polished keyholes.
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