One of the best parts of any interior design job is getting to photograph your work once it's finished.
It’s fun for all of us.
For my employees, my clients, and definitely for me.
It’s a huge feeling of accomplishment.
So, I thought I’d give you a little peek into how it works. If you’re thinking about calling me for a project, just know that I’ll probably want to do this at the end!
Once we’ve booked our day (or days), we ask our client to empty the room as much as possible.
It’s not that I don’t like their accessories or special personal items, it’s just that I want the image to tell a story: I want it to tell the story of the goals of our project.
I really enjoy working with my photographer, Miro Dvorscak.
He’s been photographing my projects for the last 5 years or so and we have a mutual respect for each other and enjoy the process together.
I try to do most of my photography in the early fall or after Christmas, as Miro is not quite as busy during that time. I don’t want him to feel stressed or pushed for time because I know he has some big clients and needs to put them first when they call.
- If the project is mostly architectural/construction, such as a bathroom or kitchen would be, I want a minimal approach to the styling. After all, it’s not really about the accessories here...it’s about the changes I’ve affected in the space. My accessories are there to enhance the room, not be the center of attention. If I wanted to shoot a bunch of accessories.......I could do that anywhere.
- With remodel projects, I always take before pics. As I’m starting a job, I snap these rather quickly with my phone, so sometimes they aren’t really that good, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this situation. :-)
My goal is to show the transformation of the space and to show off special features that were installed and designed to answer the client’s needs and requests. I usually try to repeat the angle of my first set of images for a clear before and after comparison.
With styling, I want the space to feel homey, but not overwhelmed with stuff.
These are homes, not boutiques with stuff to buy sitting out artfully arranged. And we all know that look can go FAKE really fast. Really, less is best when shooting a project. And, although I say less is best, when you get all this in the SUV, it’s chock full! We’re loading and hauling it, and it becomes a long, tiring day!
For a kitchen remodel I have a few things I always take:
- I use three simple, clear glass canisters with natural fillers such as coffee beans, whole wheat flour, nuts, granola, etc. I have these in my kitchen. (If it’s good enough for Ina Garten, it’s good enough for me.)
- A stack of wooden and ceramic bowls and platters for fruit and veggies.
- Natural-colored (or a color that works with the space) fruits and veggies, usually all of the same type. For example, artichokes or lemons or pears.
- A couple of trays for oils, pepper mills, vinegars, etc.
- A few pitchers or crocks for wooden spoons or utensils.
- Maybe a stack of cookbooks or a grouping of glassware
- A few pretty dishtowels.
- Flowers - by the buckets: tall, short, branchy, usually white or cream.
- Some cutting boards to stack somewhere
- A few baskets are always good to have on hand too.
- Unless red is a purposeful color in the room somewhere, I try to stay away from red in any accessories. Red just screams at you visually.
You see how these things are pretty generic, textural, not too colorful, but provide a subtle softening of the space?
For a bathroom remodel I usually take the following:
- WHITE towels - I have a stack of them I keep for photo shoots only. They are nice and fluffy and provide a spa-like look in any bathroom. I don’t ever recommend a colored towel. I’ve occasionally used some cream ones or agreed that the homeowner could do a beige or taupe color themselves, but I like white for photo shoots. It gives a crispness and balances the white plumbing fixtures in the room.
- Flowers - again, by the bucket. I’ll do roses sometimes in bathrooms; never red, but white or cream, like my homeowner just received a dozen from her love and placed them on her vanity! :-)
- I have several silver and wood trays that are simple and not too decorative and make a nice platter for special creams, lotions, and pretty bottles.
- I have some wonderful large seashells I like to include in the shower sometimes. Showers can look so empty and having a seashell and a pretty back scrubber in there provides something personal and spa-like.
- I like to do nice soaps too, either in a bowl, on a tray, or in large glass apothecary jars. I have straight glass ones for contemporary bathrooms and more curvy ones for traditional baths.
- Extra baskets and maybe a stool if the homeowner doesn’t have one, helps fill the space.
Again, I don’t want to detract from the tile or the plumbing fixtures or the beautiful lighting, but want a soft, generic look.
It’s sort of like when you sell real estate. You take out all your personal momentoes and extra stuff for a cleaner, leaner look that showcases the home.
Quick tip: Try not to transfer something around the room as you’re taking photos. For example, if you have only one type of flower, don’t move the vase around the room as you’re taking photos. Editors of magazines don’t like that. It’s a sure sign of staging and a fake look.
With all my jobs I usually do some wide shots and then some close-ups; we try to get an assortment.
Lighting is really hard for me to judge. I really want to have the lights on to show off light fixtures, but I know that incandescent color can ruin an image. Miro usually does some with the lights on and some with them off, and then I can pick what I want.
During the process, Miro pulls his memory card out of the camera and we look at the images on his laptop. Invariably we tweak things. Until a space is in a flat image form, it’s really hard to see how that object in the foreground is going relate to the other objects behind it. When you see the final version in real life, it often looks completely unreal. Maybe we’ve had to tilt a stool or shift something so that it’s at the corner of the countertop in real life, but in the image it looks perfectly positioned. It can be strange...but it works!
I have several shoots scheduled for this fall and I’m really looking forward to sharing some more projects with you!
So please stay tuned ;-)
And if YOU have any great photography or styling tips to share, please do so below!