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Advice for DesignersPhoto shoot styling

Vancouver Interior Stylist; What every Designer should know about Photography

By 10/20/2009January 27th, 201730 Comments


Yaletown loft patio by Maria Killam Colour & Design for BC Home, photographed by Anna Beaudry

From the beginning stages of designing my website I decided not to show ‘before’ photographs because I noticed that established designers on the internet rarely show images of their interiors before they were decorated.

Photo with the angle I chose

This is also why, if you (as a designer) are going to have a website, professional photography is not optional. Consider it an investment in your business. A return that will come back much faster in new clients than your own ‘point and shoot’ efforts.

One year ago last spring, I took a course from a New York designer on “How to be your own photographer” because I was getting ready to get my website designed and thought this would be a good way to learn to do it myself.

Interior by Maria Killam, Photographed by Anna Beaudry
Here are 4 tips from the professionals photographing interiors:
My angle of the photo (see how the corner of the next room is in my shot—not good)

1) Turn off the flash when taking photos of interiors. Otherwise it just washes out all colour and kills the atmospheric quality of the lighting in the room.

2) Taking a photo of an entire room is okay, but even better when you do close-ups of vignettes [below].

Photographed by Anna Beaudry

3) When taking photos of tile in a bathroom (for example) go right inside the shower to get a close-up of the tile (instead of just snapping a photo of the shower doors, etc).

4) When shooting a room, line your camera up with something vertical. And don’t include the corner of another space in the room (above), it looks better without that vertical angle.

This was my photograph earlier in the day.

So, good tips right? I should be an expert now? Wrong.

When Anna came to take photos of the spaces I had decorated, she never ONCE took a picture from the same angle that I did. The angle she chose was always so much better than mine. (see above & below)

Interior by Maria Killam, photographed by Anna Beaudry
A photographer will usually scout the space before to find out which time of day the light is the best for the photograph. See the photo below where the afternoon sun was already starting to come through the windows? It’s too hard to control the light at that point (for this space anyway), so the professional photo was taken late morning before the sun came around the corner of the building!
My photograph

Hire a professional for everything you can’t do professionally yourself. It’s my mantra for this week 🙂

Related posts:
How to Style a kitchen for a Photo Shoot – 3 rules to Follow
Styling for Photo Shoots

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  • Rachel H says:

    Wow…I am amazed how every time I stop in here to read…I am totally inspired with amazing information! Great! Thanks so much! I agree…photography can make or break the sell of a space..especially when that portfolio is your only window into a designer's style.

  • Erin says:

    Super tips! I'm always looking for ways to improve my photography skills, so I greatly appreciate them!

  • urbansardines says:

    Maria, what a great post! I love interior design, but I am also an amateur photographer, and I haven't ventured into to figuring out how to photograph interiors, so this post REALLY spoke to me!!! Thank you! BTW, I linked to a few of your lovely interiors in a recent post on styling with books!
    thank you for the inspiration!

  • Soma Pradhan says:

    You are such a great resource. I feel like in the little time I've been reading you that I've become a better designer! Thank you for being my online mentor!

  • guylaine rondeau says:

    i wish everyone was as enlightened as you! really, if everyone actually got that being able to do something does not make us experts, and certainly does not get us the quality we need to achieve great success, it would allow much more appreciation for one’s talent and expertise.

    as i often explain, we all went to school and we all know to write, and that doesn’t make us writers. we all own a camera, and that doesn’t make us photographers. we all know our favorite colours, yet that doesn’t make us colour experts. we even know how to buy furniture, but we are no interior designers for it. most people that truly succeed understand their limitations, and they get the importance of quality in hiring those that complement them.

    so thanks for reminding people!
    you will go far thinking the way you do. 🙂

  • Sarah Klassen says:

    As a Graphic Designer, I couldn't agree more. There have been a few times that clients have asked me to use unprofessional photography, and I have refused. The difference in quality is in the details, and I strongly believe in paying attention to these details. Great post!

  • Marina says:

    I have been following your blog for a while… but have never left a comment … so today i though i should!

    The photos are absolutely wonderful, as well as the styling!
    I am so blown away at your willingness to share all your knowledge and advice … and I just love your mantra this week. You are so right!!
    You are an inspiration ;-))
    Thank you…

  • Linda at Lime in the Coconut! says:

    Great tips!

    They always make it LOOK so easy. But it's not!

  • Red Door Home says:

    Being new to the blog world, I have (like everyone else) tried to take my own pictures. This really made me realize what a difference a professional photographer makes. Thanks for the tips! They are great for those of us who can't afford to hire a professional.

  • Annie@A View On Design says:

    thanks for those tips, I'm doing a little photog course online at the mom, but with my house build and everything… I'm a bit behind!

  • Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    I'm absolutely in agreement with you on this! I stink at taking photographs, especially of interiors, and I started using a professional photographer last year. It was surprisingly affordable and good pictures are going to make me look good. For my blog pics though, I think I need to figure out how to turn my flash off. I've already apologized twice this week for my bad pictures.

  • Ruthies Renewed Treasured says:

    Maria – You have a God given gift! I can hear your speaking as you write and I haven't even met you! Thanks for the tips, they will be a great help.

  • Marty J says:

    One of the most interesting things I noticed was the angles. Too many people forget that their knees bend – in other words most of us tend to shoot from a standing position shooting down on or up at something while Anna shot from the focal point level.

    Although I am not an interior designer, I learn a lot about the rooms in my home from photos. By the way, thank you for sharing your amazing knowledge!

  • Karena says:

    I still love the art from above in the last images. I do most of my own photography…and I can see exactly what you mean.

  • A Gift Wrapped Life says:

    You are absolutely right! I spent a fortune on a professional photographer for various projects and there is no comparison to do-it-yourself photos. They are worth every penny and a must for serious designers.

  • Arte Styling says:

    you are so right on, Maria! Anna's photos are beautiful (yours aren't so bad, though!) Thanks for reminding me of one more thing to put on my to-do list. Sigh…

  • Rachel says:

    i'm so torn about photographers. While I totally agree that they will produce -far- superior shots to those that we amateurs take, their costs are prohibitive. If I make X dollars on a consultation for an entire house, I often find that is the same amount a photographer will charge per shot! unfortunately,there's just not enough $ in the bank for that! 🙁

  • Centsational Girl says:

    Wow, Maria, great article. Thanks so much for featuring such important tips !


  • Bethany Christensen says:

    You are so right! Why Why Why don't I remember this and trust the experts more? (as I try to design my own blog header yikees). Who designed your blog header? I remember the post about it but I cant find it. AND I think it is one of the best I have ever seen.


  • Anna Beaudry Photographic Design says:

    Thanks Maria, I am thankful for your no-nonsense appreciation of Professional Photography. And thanks everyone for your feedback. For those of you who posted comments about the cost, you could consider building it in to your budget/quote for the job. I realize this may not always be practical at the onset but in the long run is an excellent practice. When clients see your design work published somewhere that is value added in their opinion and they are much more willing to pay accordingly! Anyone with photography questions is welcome to contact me directly.

  • Slices of Beauty... says:

    Such a dynamic duo!
    Want to be in the first image, lovely.

  • Eliana Tomás says:

    the first shot is just perfect. everything, absolutely everything is perfect. well done to you Maria, Anna and to the client.

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    What a difference in the pro shots and your own. I know I'm stating the obvious . . her angle at the dining room table is striking compared to the point and shoot.

  • Jane Hall The Voice of Style says:

    Hi Maria,
    You are so right. A picture is worth a thousand words! I invested in a SLR camera and learned how to use it. Taking a great picture is all about composition. When I take pictures of my projects, new product or changes in the displays in my store, its not unusual to see me on the floor,on a ladder, taking the shot from as many angles as possible. Another tip if you want to do your own photography is using a tripod and trying to use natural light as much as possible for the best colour representation. I find photography my new art form!

  • Velvet and Linen says:

    When I visited your website the first thing I said to myself was "Wow that is a beautiful image". It was the image of your client's two story townhouse by Anna.
    You have certainly found yourself a talented team!


  • Windlost says:

    Great tips Maria – Anna is a talented photographer who really has a great eye and gets the best out of a room. Wow! Nice decor too!

    xo Terri

  • Lauren says:

    beautiful photography! i can't agree with you more on the value of professional photography… i'm gathering up the will to go for it (again, on my latest bath of work) but might need to wait till spring..

    it makes SUCH a difference!!!

  • Cote de Texas says:

    amazing. just amazing. i actually like your shot from upstairs, but that is only one! so sorry!!!! omg, that's so awful to say, but the professional is always so better – i've learned the hard way too!

  • DesignTies says:

    That green & purple living room is one of my most favourite rooms EVER!! I just love it, regardless of who took the photos!!

    I just took a whole bunch of photos of my office on the weekend. Too bad this post was one day too late for me!! But that's OK, I'll remember all these great tips for next time 🙂

    Love all of Anna's photos — professionals really do get all the nuances of a photo just right 🙂


  • The Fine Life says:

    This was a very helpful reference, Maria. I'm glad you linked back to it from today's post!

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