As inspiration for decorating your home can be found anywhere, but is most often ignored from art history references, we’ve compiled a list of the best interior design photographers from the past century to take note of when looking to design your space, and have it photograph well.
From Julius Shulman’s mid-century marvels to Arnold Newman’s candid portraits, using your home as a backdrop for capturing moments in your life can be more colorful and expressive than you may have thought when you study masters of the craft.
A recent exhibition of Slim Aaron’s oversized, hyper-colored images of socialites, jet-setters and celebrities chronicled at their vacation getaways and summer party homes had us mining endless design inspiration.
Not only is there a sense of joy in every photograph of his, but each interior and exterior’s lush setting gloriously epitomized his summary of his work as “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places,” with superior skill at bringing primarily architectural photography to life in bold technicolor hues.
Image via 1st Dibs
A multi-hyphenated English photographer, diarist, painter, interior designer and an Oscar-winning costume designer, Beaton’s privileged upbringing and serious talent also made him a darling of aristocratic society where unlike Aaron’s, Beaton predominantly placed notable figures inside their old family estates for portraits.
Known for his rich fashion photographs and intimate society portraits, his most famous and enduring images illustrate the way old-money once lived. Set amongst grand gilded halls and sheer opulence, it was one of the first times in history that the ultra-wealthy publicly displayed their conspicuous consumption while inserting themselves in the mix – cementing his positioning as one of the best interior design photographers when looking for old-school inspiration or for adding vintage decadence in your home.
Image via Ok!
Although primarily an accomplished fashion and still life photographer, Tim Walker’s haunting yet decadent editorial contributions often utilize sumptuous, dreamlike interiors as a setting that goes beyond the pages of a glossy when looking for inspiration.
A one time assistant for legendary photographer Richard Avedon, Walker channels the photographer’s maximalist approach with romantic interiors that lend his images a childlike sense of play with a serious dose of fantasy and strength.
Image via Vogue Italia
Noted for his interesting portraits of celebrities, artists, and politicians, Arnold Newman found inspiration in exaggerating the personality of subjects and their spaces together to create environmental portraiture – a genre he is routinely credited for perfecting.
By capturing people in their spaces amongst elements that represented their personae’s, Newman was able to carefully highlight their life and work with captivating humor and an understanding of what made the individual a unique, one-of-a-kind subject.
Image via Photoprenuer
A genius at manipulating banal, everyday scenes with an amusing off-kilter yet natural approach, Stephen Shore was one of the youngest photographers to have work included in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection by the age of 17.
Considered a pioneer for his use of color in art photography, Shore is also recognized for his often humorous images depicting neglected scenes of small-town life over the course of several cross-country road trips.
Image via Another Mag
Best known for his symmetrical documentations of museum and gallery patrons perusing exhibitions, Thomas Struth remains one of the best interior design photographers to date with simple, unstaged compositions that illustrate the relationship people have with their environments in a frank, and often arresting manner.
By utilizing grayish or ultra-bright early morning daylight, he manages to make both people and the buildings they occupy have a distinct, parallel exchange that unexpectedly feels harmonious.
Image via Iso 1200
Celebrated for capturing the brilliant simplicity of buildings created by iconic architects Charles Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Richard Neutra, Julius Shulman is credited for ushering in an appreciation for California mid-century modern around the world through his timeless photographs. The brilliant simplicity of iconic structures like Los Angeles’ Case Study House #22 was first brought to light by Shulman, who had a personal affinity for the style.
The easy appeal of his images forever altered people’s perception of the importance of architectural photography as it’s own medium by highlighting buildings and their surroundings, along with the era’s lifestyle aspirations – even when inhabitants are absent from his images.
Image via Arquitecturay Empresa
Not only was Lucien Hervé one of the best interior photographers of his generation, he was also noted as being one of the singular talents to combine a human touch with an architect’s eye through his minimal compositions with an abstracted bent. Early on in his career, his forward-thinking approach of bringing his era’s stark architecture to life caught the eye of game-changing master architect Le Crobusier, one of the pioneers of modern architecture.
Dedicated to upgrading the living conditions of residents in crowded urban areas the world over, Corbusier brought Hervé on as one of his principal photographers to punctuate the architect’s masculine creations with a humanist approach, often creating an inimitable marriage of form, function and play that continues to feel contemporary in spirit to this day.
Image via Pinterest
Lead Image via 1st Dibs