A picture is worth a thousand words, and potentially a lot more than that. When you’re trying to convey a message about your work or your brand, great marketing photos can translate to tangible wins, including more media coverage, valuable visibility and yes, dollars in your pocket! For interior design firms, great photographs should tell the story of the space, the ones who live there, and offer a point of view. Perhaps most importantly, they should evoke an emotional response. So, how do you do that? Read on for our top tips.
1. YES, SIZE MATTERS!
Have you ever flipped through a magazine or scrolled online, and come across “fuzzy” photos? This usually means they were shot at an insufficient size and quality. In order to be usable, your photos need to be crisp and clear. Photos appearing in print should be 5000 pixels at a resolution of 300 dpi. For web publishing, they should be 2000 pixels at 72 dpi. When briefing your photographer, be sure to communicate the intended use of the photos and the size requirements. If you’re not yet sure how your photos will be used, get both. Editors won’t run blurry, pixelated photos, and contrary to popular belief, they can’t increase photo quality after the shoot. High-resolution photos can always be “saved down” for web use, but not the other way around. If you’re going to invest in the services of a professional photographer, get it right.
2. CONSIDER NEGATIVE SPACE.
As an interior designer, you’re probably used to factoring negative space into a room. This applies to your interior photos, too. Magazine editors need photos with clear space to add text overlays, and if you’re lucky enough to land a front cover, room for the masthead that’s typically laid out across the top. Above is an example of a photo, shot with strategic white space. If you’re having photos taken for a specific magazine, ask the editor for the cover and editorial photo specs. Then, communicate these to your photographer, to ensure your photos can accommodate text without impacting the photo composition. Living room photo by Stephani Buchman
3. IMAGE ORIENTATION.
Ask your photographer to frame the same shot in three different ways: vertical, horizontal and square.
Print editors generally need vertical orientation, as they work with 8.5-by-11-inch layouts. Web editors often use horizontal shots, while social media photos are optimized in a square format at 1080 by 1080 pixels. In fact, when sharing photos, it’s wise to provide these multiple formats, which gives the editor flexibility in where they can use them. Many publications have print, digital and social channels, so cover all your bases. This may mean repositioning some of the furniture and accessories, to ensure all the desired elements are framed correctly and in a visually pleasing way.
TIP: When photos are submitted at the correct size, orientation and composition, you have greater control over what appears in the photo, since it won’t have to be cropped.
4. PLAN YOUR SHOT LIST.
Having a pre-determined shot list will help save time (and money!) during your photo shoot, while planning ahead for how and where the photos may be used in the future. For example, if you’re engaging a photographer to shoot a new interior project for potential media coverage, you’ll definitely need full-room photos, but while you’re at it consider also getting some close-ups and product shots, which you can use on your website and social media, without compromising any opportunity to have the photos published in a national magazine.
Editors will generally want first run of your photos, and are unlikely to feature them if they’ve already appeared elsewhere. Contact us for more information about this!
Focus on the details, like the accessories displayed on the coffee table, the curve of an armchair, or the tile backsplash. Close-ups like these are a great opportunity to support your suppliers and promote their products, but they’re also a great way to tease your upcoming media coverage and build anticipation on your blog or social media channels! Of course, these types of images sometimes can be included in media if appropriate.
5. STYLE THE SHOTS.
As an interior design professional, you’re already used to styling spaces, but photos demand a slightly different approach. The space needs to look “lived in,” but in an elevated way. In relation to your photos, less is always more. Below are additional styling tips to consider:
– Accessorize with natural, organic items and earth tones – the ultimate neutral! The best accessories should complement the space, not detract from the design.
– Avoid elements that are too bold, too bright or high-contrast, which can upstage the space.
– Kitchens: Visit your local grocery store for fresh and vibrant pieces that will bring life to your photos – literally!
– Show off the best assets and any unique, creative elements. For example, throw open the doors of a custom pantry to show off the goods.
– If borrowing accessories, ensure tags turned down.
– Give your pillows a little squeeze from the sides. Consider the less-popular “pillow chop” for spaces with a more formal vibe.
– Turn off the lights to avoid distorted colour on the walls, and reduce shadows. Your photographer should be equipped with the right lighting to adequately illuminate the space. Discuss this with the photographer prior to the shoot.
– Always consider where is the sunlight is coming from, and plan accordingly to take advantage of the best natural light.
– A prop stylist who works with photographers is an expert at styling for the photograph and perhaps a consideration for important projects.
“When one is styling for a photograph, it’s not about arranging objects within the walls of the home but within the walls of the frame. The same design rules apply scale, balance, harmony, and pattern, but in a new context. In interior photography, those principles are within the composition of the photograph. You can be brilliant at adding accents and styling items to your room design, but styling for the composition of a photograph is an entirely different wheelhouse. The skills are related but with alternate applications.” –Stephani Buchman, Toronto Photographer
6. GET PUBLISHED. SHARE YOUR STORY.
Before your photo shoot, plan the story you want to communicate with your images. Then, communicate that to your photographer to ensure the photos reflect that narrative. Consider how the photos will speak to the your audience, and anticipate what they want to see: content for inspiration, education, or a source guide (including detail shots!) to get the look.
7. CHOOSE THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER.
Not all photographers are created equal, and not all are meant to be YOUR photographer. Do your due diligence before signing a contract. Review their photography style and the subjects that they focus on. Does the style of their work resonate with you and what you create? Do not judge a photographer – or base your decision – on their fees. This is a factor, but certainly not the whole picture (pun intended!). Be sure to check our blog for an upcoming article about how to find and choose the right photographer.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS…
One piece of advice that you likely give every one of your clients applies to you, too, when it comes to your photos: edit visual clutter. Magazine editors want clean, aspirational photos, where every element aligns with the story that will surround the image. Remove anything that’s non-essential to that story, and make room for the styling elements that will help convey a clear message aimed at the audience you’re trying to reach.
The best images tell the story of the people who lives there. They make the editor’s job that much easier, because truly great photos are worth much more than a thousand words, or what you’ll pay for the photography session. A little planning ahead of your photo shoot will go a long way.
Looking to tell your brand story? Click HERE to schedule your brand discovery call with us.