Shooting at this time of year, it can be a challenge to get through a whole house in daylight hours, particularly a large family house like this one in Southwest London, designed by Brenda Gibson of Complete Interior Co. Having known and worked with Brenda for a long time, we have become quite efficient and methodical in the way we work. Apart from shortness of daylight, there are lots of other variables on a house shoot, so it pays to have a good plan in place at the start of the day. Even better is to do a site recce prior to the day of the shoot, but that’s not always possible. On the day, I normally walk through the entire house with the designer/client first, so as to plan the shoot order. One of the main considerations is the path of the sun, or daylight at least. It doesn’t help to get towards the end of the day, and find that you have lots of east facing rooms with little natural light, still to shoot.
While I often shoot just completed projects where nobody has actually moved in yet, or houses when the owners are away on holiday, it’s also worth remembering that in most homes,come mid-afternoon, the kids suddenly get home from school, so those rooms that they might use, need to be done by then. Sometimes there is even the cleaner or a builder to work round, which can put a spanner in the works. Patience is a necessity.
The designer, or stylist, if you are using one, should hopefully of course be one step, or one room ahead, getting everything ready, and depending on how you find the house, they may have their work cut out. Then of course, everything has to be restored to its former condition afterwards. Whatever state that was! Taking some quick digital snaps, of say, the owner’s desk, or a bathroom vanity unit, before it is styled, is a useful tip. Although if the owner happens to be there, they are often delighted by the impromptu reorganisation. Designers usually come laden with specially purchased or borrowed accessories, which, if they are lucky, the owners will decide are worth keeping.
Discussing the brief fully with the client is vital. It is likely that detail, or mood shots, as well as wide angles and mid shots will be required, in order to show off a design scheme fully, and best illustrate the designer’s skills and style.
And whether to shoot with lamps on or off, is something that people will have strong opinions on. I normally do both, so as to keep everyone happy.
Finally, it pays to have some interest in or knowledge of your subject matter. I’d never make a car or sports photographer for example. Those subjects just don’t excite me that much, but as a former Interior Designer, put me in a house, a hotel, and yes even a lap club, and I’m in my element.