We all know the power of a first impression. Like it or not, we all (yes, even your potential clients!) make snap judgments immediately — and books are judged by their covers.
As a designer, the only first impression you get — call it your book cover — is through the images of your work. They broadcast your talent in two-dimensional form.
This is why good — GREAT — photography is such a crucial part of your business. But, it’s not only about having effective, stunning, and visually appealing photos. (Those qualities are a given, especially in the highly saturated, image-driven, Instagrammable world we live in.) It’s also about finding ways to really set your photos apart; to achieve that extra little edge — the wow factor — that stands out, makes a lasting impression, and maybe even just has your next client saying: “I need to work with this design master!”
So, in that spirit, here are four things to consider when thinking through your next photo shoot — whether it’s for a glossy magazine, online portfolio, or your own marketing purposes.
1. Leave a little to the imagination.
Yes, that space, architecture, room, and/or custom design of yours is a sight to behold. And, we know you want to show off every square inch.
But, remember, the romance — the magic — is in not showing everything. Make sure your photographs flirt with viewers, allowing them to use their imagination to fill in the gaps while leaving them wanting more. After all, it’s generally the finer, smaller details that make a big difference.
“It’s often best to skip the wide-angle shots because you start compromising on quality and effect; people get lost in a photo when it encompasses too many elements,” says Holger Obenaus, an award-winning commercial photographer who specializes in design and architectural photography. “The eye doesn’t know where to look or what to focus in on.”
2. Don’t be afraid to change a room for a shot.
Designers — this is your movie set, so to speak. You’re building a scene this time, not a room. And to set the right stage, you often have to “stage” the space for the most compelling photographic effect.
“Don’t be afraid to really get in there and move some things around!” says Holger. “This is where it is so helpful to work with a photographer who not only has a finely tuned eye to staging but who is also willing to collaborate with you and do the work to get the shot.”
In real life, that chair, that lamp, that credenza, that side table, that unsightly cord, that [you fill in the blank here] may all serve their functional duty in a room for livability and comfort, but that doesn’t mean they work in the composition of a photo. They could be a total buzzkill. So, edit them out of the frame for the shot (after speaking with the owner, of course!).
3. Remember Goldilocks.
As you well know, scale is one of the main elements that makes interior design great. It’s the Goldilocks effect — every piece, from rug to lighting to coffee table, cannot be too big or too small. It has to be juuuust right. But, sometimes, what works in real life gets magnified or minimized in all the wrong ways once the camera lens is turned on it.
“This is the mystery of the human eye and how we perceive a space versus how a camera captures it,” says Holger. “So, trust your photographer to point out what works and what might need to be adjusted to get the Goldilocks effect in the final photos.”
4. Think Outside The Box
Basic elements, such as natural light and straight walls, along with more advanced considerations like interesting angles and the right staging, all make a massive difference in a photo. But, to really achieve the knockout shot, you have to think outside the traditional four walls.
Ponder this: How can you make your interior design photography different from your competitors? Because, we all know, beautiful images are relatively ubiquitous. But, beautiful and memorable ones… less so.
This is where some research, preparation, and creative thinking can really go a long way, so your images stand out as unique. In other words, don’t do the same thing that you see everywhere else.
“I remember a designer who brought out rainbow chard for a kitchen shot… rainbow chard!” says Holger. “I had never seen that done before, but just that one tiny little switch — instead of the overused fruit bowl or wine bottle — really impacted the final photos.” He offers another kitchen example, too. “Maybe there’s a cookie baking with a mess on the counter and a cat beside it all. Not everything has to be ‘perfect.’ You want something that is visually stunning, but also gets people to take notice.”
Need a photographer who can help you achieve the perfect shots during your upcoming commercial photoshoot? Let’s set up a consult with Holger!
To see more of Holger’s work, visit his interior design and architecture portfolios.