How to plan and implement the perfect interior design photoshoot.
We all look at beautiful photos of interiors of hotels and houses and they always look amazing don’t they?! But did you ever wonder if the house is really like that? Is it as tidy as it looks? Is it as perfectly designed as it seems or is it just staged?
Well I got to find out as I had a photo shoot in my house!
Our house renovation and photoshoot
Back in September, a team came into my house; an interior designer, two assistants and photographer, to shoot the house.
A few years ago we had the kitchen, bathroom, living room and office refurbished, and they wanted to take photos for their portfolio for their website and possibly to pitch it to some magazines.
I was really interested in this so i asked if I could stay around and they said sure no problem. I also wanted to ask for some tips from the photographer because I’m trying to improve my photography for the blog.
This is what I found out…
Interior design photoshoot: preparation is key
You might think that they just come in and take pictures. Actually there’s a lot of preparation beforehand. Here’s some of the prep that was involved
Prior to the shooting day, the interior designer’s team asked me to send them pictures of what the house looked like since they had done the work. This is because as you live in the house you add some more things or you may move things around from the initial setup that was agreed with the designer.
So based on that they look at the photos and try to figure out the right pattern, the right colour, the right texture possibly they need to bring, and then they come with all of that to the house.
You have to start thinking about textures! If you think that a room has got a lot of hard surfaces, you are going to want to try and bring in a lot of textiles and textures to try and break that up a little bit.
You might try and think about pops of colors if you think that one room is a little too calm, or bring it down if you think that the room is too bright. There’s a lot of thinking that goes into the color.
Props (and pans)
On the day of the shoot several of them arrived in advance and they came with bags of dried flowers, cushions, towels and pots and pans. They even brought books so that they would be the right color on the shelves!
Before they were taking a photo they would place those different props in the scene and it was very interesting to see how they were talking together about it, replacing something, trying to see whether that would work well, and asking the photographer in terms of the frame how it’s going to look. That was really interesting to observe.
The reality behind those glossy house pictures in magazines
What you see in the magazines may not be how people live in the house.
For instance, to make sure that the pictures in the living room were nice they moved the TV back in the alcove so it would be hidden from view, and they removed the table on which the TV sits. This made it look very nice and cozy, which it is, but that’s where we watch TV and yet you don’t see the TV at all in the pictures.
Sometimes they move chairs, remove furniture, and they can reuse the same stuff in different rooms which creates a sense of consistency, but that’s the clue that this is not exactly how the room is in real life.
The mechanics of the pictures
In regards to taking the photos, the equipment is quite interesting. The photographer had her DSLR and tripod and she had a suitcase with various different lenses and cables.
What was interesting to see was the approach they took. Instead of taking lots of different pictures, really they were trying to find ‘the shot’.
They placed things, then they would position the camera, then take the picture. Then it would be either “ok that looks like the story we wanted to say” or “ no it doesn’t, let’s move something, let’s add some accessories, let’s do a different angle” and so on.
For instance, when they were taking a picture of the side between the cabinets and the kitchen island which leads onto the garden, there were some pots of plants and they moved that away so that there was a cleaner picture.
A full day’s shoot
Magazines will want to see a full house so if you want to pitch to them, you need to be able to show the kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, a bathroom, a hallway, the front door, etc.
For that reason they spent the whole day shooting. They had planned beforehand the order of things, so they started with the downstairs (living room and kitchen), then they moved upstairs for the bathroom and the office.
They took pictures of two bedrooms including the bedroom they hadn’t designed, which is okay it’s just a bit plain and not really been thought through at the moment. So what they did is that they took some accessories from other rooms, put it in that bedroom and then styled and framed things so that it looked like it was designed.
The other step in the process is post-production editing.
My husband is quite minimalist and has been a bit reluctant for us to put things on the wall (iIt’s getting there now and we ordered a few). There was no photo or frame or painting above the sofa or bed, so they said they would add that and photoshopped it when they edit the photos.
In addition, there is a lot of editing of the photos after the shoot. The photographer edit them in their style to make sure it’s the same kind of filter, colour, pattern, light intensity or brightness etc.
Tips for taking interiors photos
It was really interesting to do this photoshoot because in a way it’s the conclusion of the project.
But I was also interested in this photoshoot because I like finding out ways to improve my photography for when I go and visit hotels.
I take photos for my blog, so I asked the photographer for a few tips which she gave me. I also asked her which tips she would want to share with you:
- Try to see the shot and then build it up
- Natural light is better – not too bright and not too dark, a nice diffused light
- Best to have a tripod. For one of the shots in our bathroom for instance, there was no light so she used long exposure, which cannot be done without a tripod.
Tips on how to pitch your renovated house to a magazine
The photos were published on the designer’s Instagram and website – I was told it’s mostly for brand awareness and promotion.
They also try to pitch them to magazines.
I was given some interesting tips on how to pitch a magazine or how you can find some magazine opportunities. You can approach a magazine directly although it usually doesn’t go very far because a lot of people do the same and so it’s hard to be picked up.
You need to send them just a few shots that you think are the most representative of the house or the strongest in the hope it’ll spark their interest and they’ll ask for more.
The designer sometimes collaborates with a stylist who works with those magazines so she’s a way in. She knows which magazines to approach, because they’ll all have a different angle and they will be looking at different things.
It worked as the house ended up being published in a French interiors magazine!