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Advice for DesignersPhoto shoot styling

The Best Inspiration for Styling a Room for a Photo

By 11/17/2012January 28th, 201710 Comments

On the third day of my True Colour Expert Workshops we talk about the business of colour. The best way to sell a colour consultation, etc. My advice to any designer setting up a website is NEVER use photos that are not professionally taken.

Jeffrey Bilhuber

I talked about this here, with some great visuals.

If you don’t have a clients home to photograph, spend the money to decorate your house. Five professionally taken photos are a 100 times better than 20 taken by you.

Jeffrey Bilhuber (love how the drapes go right to the ceiling)

When I’m looking for inspiration to style a clients home to be photographed, I always pull out Jeffrey Bilhubers books. I think his rooms are clearly styled down to the minutia and yet they have this ‘I don’t really care’ unstyled look at the same time. Totally Brilliant.


Love the pillows. My workroom calls me “the pillow lady” because I think toss pillows totally make a room and they always have a stack to sew for my clients.


If your kitchen cabinets don’t have any under counter lighting and seems dark at night, add a lamp. You’ll be delighted by the effect.


This ottoman is so much fun!

Jeffrey Bilhuber

When I decorated this dining room (below) I used this image (above) for inspiration.

A good photographer should charge a minimum of $1000 per day give or take.

And know that each photo should take you about one hour to shoot before you end up with the one that works.

Once you are looking through a lens at the room, you need to keep moving the furniture and vignettes until everything is spaced out properly and you don’t end up with items that are visually layered on top of each other.

Interior Design by Maria Killam

See the orange sitting all by itself towards the back of the table? That would look strange if you were just standing there looking at the table. Through a camera lens it creates another layer when it’s in exactly the right place.

Also the cloche with the grapes? It’s moved just slightly beside the base of the lamp because if it was any more to the right it would have visually covered up the lamp base and would have ruined the symmetrical look of the pair of lamps on the console table.

Who is your favourite designer for style inspiration?

Related posts:

How Important is Pretty?

Photo Shoot in Morgan Creek

What Every Designer Should Know about Photography

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones to learn how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • Tawna Allred says:

    I recently hired a professional photographer to come take pics for the offices. My husband is bugging me that it costs so much (because, there are a lot of photographers that cost a lot less or you could take a day and do it yourself). I’m glad you wrote this article, because while I’ve stayed firm with my decision, inside I’m freaking out a little bit. I know I’ll see the difference though, and I’ll also learn a lot in the process! Beautiful photos, BTW.

  • I’d love to hire a professional photographer. But since I do mostly very inexpensive redesign, at a $1000 a pop for a photographer, I would actually go in the hole! 😉 Of course I might have to search around and see what I could come up with in our local area for less 😉 Great inspiration pics BTW.

    • Anastacia says:

      Go to your local Photography Professor and ask which student they recommend. I bet it will be a lot less and still be pretty good!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Connie,
      Don’t think of it like you didn’t make enough to justify paying for the photographer, treat it as an expense to create your on-line ‘brochure’. It cost me $2000 to shoot 4 homes for my first website and I have booked a ridiculous amount of business from having professionally photographed pictures. It’s not just knowing how to shoot the pictures with a good camera, it’s understanding how to get the lighting just right so it looks like a fabulous room. That’s why you pay a professional photographer. I can see a professional picture from a mile away and so can you! Maria

  • I am with Connie, down hear in Windsor Ont, the price of $1000.00 per day is fair, however way over my budget as well. I have to stick with borrowing a very high end camera and my husband helping with me the shoot. I am about to post some to a Facebook account. Does anyone doing this have any tips for us?

  • tara dillard says:

    I make sure my designs CAN be shot without styling.

    Alexandra Stoddard, Living A Beautiful Life, is the inspiration for this.

    My goal is to look out every window at a beautiful garden & think, “Wow.” Look across every room & think, “Beautiful Still Life.” Both, no styling.

    Also became disgusted with overly styled magazine rooms in the late 80’s to present. Seems the early 80’s were my heyday for loving how professional pics were styled. David Hicks, Sister Parrish…..

    Love ALL you do!

    Congrats on your classes filling.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  • Janet says:

    Professional photos are also important when you’re selling your home. Do not use a realtor who just “points and shoots”. It makes a big difference to have the rooms & house you are selling, shown to best advantage in photos.

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    That’s so right. There should be an addendum onto the saying “The right tool for the right job”—
    It should say “The right tool Person for the right job!”
    We all think we are photo experts. We are NOT.
    Get the job done right, the first time. Save money by not buying things twice. Where have we heard (Mom/Dad) say this before?

  • Absolutely right. A few professional photos make the difference.

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