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15 Never Do's in Interior Photography and Styling

Photograph is said to be the only prove of a project's existence preserving its value over time. Therefore it is one of the most important investments an architect or designer can make for their business. Undeniably, as an architect or designer, you would want those images to be the best they can as they represent your brand and portfolio to show off your talent and attract the attention of editors and potential clients. Question arises when you are trying to translate your architecture language into visual form and seems to never achieve the utmost potential through your photoshoot.


In this article, we share a breakdown list of 15 "Never Do's" you should avoid at all cost in your next photoshoot and tips on how to successful collaborate with your photographer and stylist to produce a set of quality images for your next project portfolio. You may also checkout our previous previous related article on importance of creative brief (free template available), transforming space with creative direction, benefits & advice on getting started with creative directions, and guidelines on hiring your next professional photographer.


1) Cover everything in one shoot.

Work closely with your photographer and stylist on the goal of the photoshoot in advance. Do not expect to cover all types of usage in one photoshoot. Doing so might just damage your brand reputation and appear looking amateurish to your potential clients or editors. This is because set styling and photoshoot for editorial usage is way different with the set done for commercial usage. There is a clear distinction between cataloging a space and capturing the essence of a space. Simply said, commercial images are commonly great, impactful and perfectly polished while editorial images focuses more on the mood of a space and can afford to be flawed to show the sense of life. That being said, setting the initial goal is essential to achieve the goal for a specific curation.


2) Assume your photographer or stylist knows what you want.

Every client and project has different goal to be accomplished. By making this simple assumption might be similar to be playing with fire. Unless you are looking for the same 'template' look across all your projects and competitors. We truly believe every project should stand uniquely on its own leveraging their advantageous features. Our tips: Make sure everyone is on the same page through prior discussions, utilise and share on site or scout images to set a distinctive creative directions. Well, the easiest would be referencing to a specific project that has the style of photography that speaks to you.


3) Insist on a style of photography that does not match the space.

This is where the purpose of a prior discussion come into place before shooting a space. As the golden saying goes by, "Tell your team what you want, but also trust them to know what will work best for the space". You should convey your thoughts on the style based on your understanding of the space, however do open up for the advice of the professionals that you hire. Only through proper discussions, will there be an optimum result. At least that is what we always believe in, a proper bespoke set curation for every project.


4) Overplanning.

Planning is good, but always leave space for spontaneity to happen. We always leave ample amount of room in our schedule for surprises to happen. Often times, these spontaneous shot are the ones that we love the most.


5) Expecting your photographer to be a stylist.

This is a very common mistake. Photographers are specialised in crafting perfectly curated images and not styling. Yes, in most cases they might tell you something does not look right and need adjusting but most of the time they are not skilled to stylised an entire space yet alone having all the appropriate props. The best outcome is to leave this part to the professional stylist and let the photographer focus on getting the decisive shot.


6) Relying on your set stylist to add finishing touches to complete your project.

Props for photoshooting might appear to be great but 9 out of 10 times they aren't suitable for practical usage. The same applies to furniture arrangements. This is because it can be very different on how things are shown in the camera versus how it is in real life.


7) Do not forget the reason you hire the professional team.

Everyone that you have gathered for the project has a stake on this project. Every party involved wants this project to turn out looking good as much as you do. Trust your team and let them do their work under the agreed parameters and creative directions. In most cases breathing down the neck of your professional team does not help contributing to the outcome of the project.


8) Underestimating the work before and after the shoot.

The most common misconception is that the work of a photo shoot only exist during a photo shoot and ends with the last shot of the day. There is a lot of arrangement and logistics that happen behind the scenes for prep days, production days and return days. Being aware of that and taking into account for the team's time when scheduling will ensure the success of the project.


9) Did not allocate cleaning time.

Time is precious during the shoot days. If the space isn't cleaned and ready to shoot before the photographer arrives it could be a tumbling dominos playing catch-up for the rest of the day causing compromises to be made sacrificing on the potential quality of the work. Cleaning usually includes vacuuming, steaming curtains & bedsheets, and removing personal items that are present in the space. Tips: It would be best if the space is already curated the way you want it to be shown at least the day before. That way the photographer can be efficient in image crafting and be ready for the little spontaneity surprises to happen.


10) Neglecting details.

We understand that you are trying to make every penny of yours worth when it comes to photographing the space by capturing everything. But trust us, the last thing you want is to rush through the shotlist and overlook all the little details and moments that will potentially add up to a wonderful vignettes of the space. Again, there is a clear distinction between cataloging a space and capturing the essence of a space. In short, details do matter and definitely worth the time to craft it.


11) Shooting too early.

Plan and schedule your shooting day appropriately. A completely finished project will look better than one that is still ongoing or missing furnitures and art. If you are shooting too early, the project are usually incomplete and empty. On the other hand if you are shooting too late, there will be way too many personal items or damages on the project. Hence, the photographs will look the way you want and will not feel right.


12) Not paying attention to position of the sun.

Similarly to architecture and interior design sun position is crucial up to the movement changes in every seconds for the right moment to happen. The look of a space can dramatically change at different times of the day. Be sure to note all that down and make plans before your shoot. To us light is one of the factor that make or breaks a space.

13) Leaving all the artificial lights on

This is considered a grey area in interior photography. Depending on preference and situation but most of the time leaving all the lights on might not be the best option. The thoughts behind your shot matters when deciding to switch it on or off. Weight your options, will switching on the lights add to the scene? If no, switch it off.


14) Not shooting tethered.

Trust us, the last thing you want when crafting a shot is to squint your eyes the whole time while trying to figure out anything that goes wrong in that small tiny thumbnail size camera screen. Any tether solution to a bigger screen is great, it enables you to glance at a bigger screen to figure out what works and doesn't work in the frame and fine tune the details to your liking.


15) Skewed and Crooked vertical lines.

Last point! Obvious but often neglected. Skewed and crooked vertical lines either shows the architect doesn't know how to draw a straight line or the builder doesnt know how to build a house. After spending so much time and money in a project, we wouldn't want our viewers to have this perception just because of a badly executed photograph.

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