Photoshoot Tips From and For Designers

March 25, 2024

In the world of interior design, capturing the essence of a space through photography is an indispensable skill both for the designer and the homeowner. Over time, we’ve honed our relationships with photographers to help us optimize the way our work is documented, showcasing the most beautiful and important aspects from a design perspective and the client perspective. Taking the time to scout the space, plan ahead and work with a trusted photographer on the photoshoot results in a successful collaboration and beautiful imagery.

A crucial aspect of this process involves taking scouting shots and utilizing them as a canvas to sketch in accessories and styling ideas before we look for other accessories and materials to incorporate in the photos. Examining a space through the lens of a camera provides us with a clearer vision of what the final shots will look like and helps us showcase the space at its best. Invariably, we’ve learned to embrace abundance, ensuring we bring an ample supply of everything, with a particular emphasis on greens and florals. The nature of the styling process often leads us to swap out items or incorporate more elements than initially anticipated. In this regard, similar to much of the design process, flexibility is essential, and not getting tied to one vision helps to broaden the possibilities within the space. While we always consider the client’s preferences in terms of styling, our ultimate focus is on creating a visually compelling narrative for the photoshoot. Surprisingly, our styled pieces often catch the client’s eye, leading to potential purchases. Even if they don’t make a purchase, the styling process sparks their imagination, helping them envision alternative possibilities for their space.

An interesting, and sometimes challenging, facet of our work is that the majority of photoshoots are conducted with residents still occupying the home. Prior to the shoot, we make a record of how the space was set up before we came in, enabling us to recreate the original setting after the shoot. This meticulous approach ensures that the photoshoot experience remains seamless for the client, with minimal disruption to their daily routine. To express gratitude for our clients’ patience during the process, we leave behind tokens of appreciation such as food, drinks and floral arrangements for them to enjoy once we’ve completed our work. We believe in making the photoshoot experience a positive one for our clients, and these gestures go a long way in achieving that.

In the realm of commercial spaces, the focus shifts towards creating an environment that appeals to a diverse audience, rather than catering to the client’s personal tastes. These preferences take a back seat as these spaces will be enjoyed by a variety of people, and our hope is to make as many of them feel as comfortable and welcomed as possible. We return to the original goals and inspiration behind the project, and the atmosphere we wanted to create in the space to add those finishing touches for the shoot. These images will be used in marketing and social platforms, therefore we want to help in accurately conveying the experience guests will have when they are there. Ideally, you will find a way to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the space without minimizing the functionality of the room with your selections.

A key tip we have taken with us from our experiences is to utilize the time leading up to the photoshoot to prepare the space to best suit what needs to be accomplished during the shoot. Going in a day prior to clean and stylize the space not only saves time and energy but also ensures a smooth and efficient photoshoot. This approach benefits everyone involved, particularly the photographer, who can focus on capturing the final product without the hassle of setup. As the photographer is shooting in one space, we also like to move ahead and make sure the subsequent spaces are ready for him or her, creating a more efficient flow for the day.

Ultimately, the most important tip for successfully styling and shooting space is to work with a photographer you trust and whose work is compatible with yours. If you come prepared to a clean space with the appropriate accessories and decor, and can easily communicate with the photographer what it is you want done, it will come across in the images. The opportunity to collaborate and share ideas with other professionals on a project is immensely valuable and goes a long way in creating beautiful spaces that you and the client are happy with.

—By Susan Hayward and Jillian Hayward Schaible, Susan Hayward Interiors

Photo credit: Courtesy of Jared Kuzia