Interior Photography and Styling: 15 Things to Never Do


As you design the space, pay attention to how the light looks at different times of day and file that info away for future photo shoots, advises photographer Alanna Hale. “Capturing something in its best light is more than just a metaphor,” she says. “Slowing down and observing and watching the light is also a really big component of interior photography.”

Don’t expect your photographer to also be a stylist.

Designers should let their photographer focus on getting the shot, not styling the space, notes photographer Genevieve Garruppo. “I need you to own most of the styling,” she says. “If I think that something should move for the composition, that’s one thing, but I’m not designing the room for you.”

Don’t count on your stylist to be a personal shopper or finish the project.

Shorthouse has encountered jobs where designers want her to style the space and add the finishing touches to the project. “That can really make it difficult because then you’re shopping for a photo shoot, but also shopping for a real space,” she explains. “Sometimes it can be very different in terms of how things read on camera versus how they read in real life.”

Don’t wait until the last minute to clean.

There’s lots to do on shoot days, so make sure the space is cleaned and ready to go before the photographer arrives, advises Neustadt. That includes vacuuming, steaming curtains, cleaning windows, and if the clients are living there, making sure that personal items like remotes, baby gear, and tissue boxes are all out of sight. “Otherwise, I get there and absolutely nothing’s ready for me to shoot,” she says. “Then the whole day we’re kind of playing catch-up.”

Don’t neglect the small moments.

It’s understandable that you want an image to capture every aspect of the room, but make sure you capture some intimate vignettes as well. “A lot of designers are looking at the bigger-picture elements of the room, and they want to get it all,” says King. “But I think there’s an intimacy created in the smaller moments that a lot of times will be overlooked. Those are really important to capture on set as well.”

A beach bungalow by Green River Project received the Colin King styling treatment.

Photo: Victoria Hely-Hutchinson

Don’t leave the lights on.

You may want to illuminate that eye-catching light fixture, but Shorthouse says to leave it off. When turned on, “it tends to read more real estate photography than it does editorial, and magazines will want to reshoot it,” she says. “Turning on the lights can also kind of distract from fixtures.”

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