My name is Jeeheon Cho and I'm a San Diego based photographer and videographer specializing in architecture, residential interiors, commercial interiors, and real estate.
I'm originally from the Boston area and studied at Bowdoin College in Maine. After college, I moved to Boulder, Colorado to climb and be a ski bum. I then spent the next few years traveling and exploring photography whilst living abroad in various countries including Nepal, Thailand, and Japan.
I'm known for my crisp and vibrant photographs created by balancing a space's ambient light with off-camera flashes. Preserving the ambient light maintains the space's ambiance and mood, while the off-camera lights make the space and objects within pop and come alive with vibrancy.
When I'm not spending time with my lovely wife and dogs, I love to travel, play guitar, ski Colorado's backcountry, eat Korean beef barbecue, shoot film, discover new sour beers, and brew craft coffee.
1. Less is more when it comes to kitchen and table surfaces. Simplicity and clear surfaces with few decorative pieces capture better on camera. For homes that are currently lived in, there's of course only so much you can do! The main purpose is to clearly show the space and how it can be occupied. Furniture is the context for the size of the space and can actually make small spaces feel larger by showing what can fit in it. Furniture can also make a room feel cramped if they block potential walking routes. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Please put down the toilet seat lid and dry the floor of the bathtub/shower if recently used (I may need to stand in the bathtub to get tight shots of the bathroom).
2. Please turn on all lights including outdoor lights and kitchen lights such as the stove light. I'll be relying on my own lighting equipment for light, but your lights should be on to show off all the sconces and fixtures. A small glow from your lights will serve as adornments in the photo.
3. Check for burnt out bulbs and replace all bulbs with the same light temperature (color). For example, please do not pair together tungsten and LED bulbs in a single ceiling fan. Make sure the light temperature for the LED and CFL bulbs are the same (please call if you have questions about this). Check for any burnt out bulbs in sets of lights such as the bathroom mirror, ceiling fans, or embedded ceiling lights.
4. If you have plastic shutters, please slide them all the way up. If you have wooden/faux wood/plantation shutters, please keep the lowered, but open. If you have drapes, please open them. Please close all windows and sliding doors.
5. Declutter as much as possible. While furniture and adornments should be in the photograph to make the spaces look more alive and vibrant, clutter and small details tend to distract the eye. Please place all clutter in smaller closets and cabinets but not in your walk-in closets. You'll want to show off your larger walk-in closets and pantries so please keep them organized (although there's no expectation that they not be full). If your basement is unfinished and used for storage, some light organization of items can make a big difference in removing a dingy feel to dark spaces. Once I arrive I will start photographing and my pace varies from slowly in one part of the house to very quickly in another, so please have all rooms prepared and ready to go with clutter already stowed away before my arrival.
Technique and Process
My method of balancing light sources and framing the composition results in the crisp and vibrant interiors you can find in my gallery. I make sure to preserve the ambiance of a space while using my own lighting to make the room pop and come alive. If you're curious about the technical details, I break it down in a more concrete manner below...
There are three sources of light when photographing an interior space: (1) Window light, (2) light from fixtures and lamps, and (3) my own flashes:
(1) I set my camera settings so that the window light isn't so overpowering that the windows appear as a washed-out pure white. I make sure that the green trees and blue skies are visible through the windows.
(2) The light bulbs from fixtures and lamps usually stain the walls and furniture with a particular color temperature. This color casting occurs because the camera "perceives" and records the color temperature that different bulbs emit as different colors. For example, tungsten bulbs stain orange, fluorescent bulbs will stain green, and CFLs vary by type. For that reason, I make sure the camera settings are set so that the light from fixtures and lamps is bright enough to show off that they're there, but not enough to color cast the space around them.
(3) At this point, the camera can see detail out the windows and the fixtures and lamps are a minor source of light indoors. The interior is still dark so I light it up with my flashes. The flashes are a daylight balanced color temperature which preserve the true colors of a space's walls and furniture. They also cause colors to pop and details to be crisp. The flashes appear natural and won't have that harsh "flashy" look.
The balance of the three aforementioned sources of light can be adjusted to suit your brand. For example, some interior design companies prefer the "washed-out window with contrasting shadows look" which can feel cozier or more rustic.
The appearance of a space completely changes with the angle of view, so I carefully consider and choose the angles that complement the room. Without going too deeply into an abstract explanation, I look for a certain flow in the room formed by the room's shape and furniture/structures within. I use wide-angle lenses that can capture small bathrooms and walk-in closets. I usually shoot as wide as I can to embellish, but not so wide that it misrepresents.
Exteriors can be photographed at the same time as the interiors, or I can come back later in the day during sunset. Photographing exteriors during or right after a sunset results in the most spectacular shots of a home or building. I use my lights to light up the exterior of the home to give it clarity and pop. Relying only on natural light for an exterior leads to a flat and uninspired image. The combination of a vibrantly lit-up home with the backdrop of a colorful sky from a setting sun results in absolutely stunning imagery.