How to Prep and Style for an Interiors Photo Shoot to Get the Best Results

A beautifully propped shot with just the right amount of staging by interior designer Grant K Gibson.

A beautifully propped shot with just the right amount of staging by interior designer Grant K Gibson.

I often work with interior designers, photographing their design projects for their websites, for magazine publication, and for their company marketing. Depending on where they are in their career, they may not have had a design project professionally shot so I get asked how to best prepare for a successful and productive shoot. I share here my recommendations on things to consider before and the day of an interiors shoot.

Prepping before the shoot:

1. It is best to schedule the shoot on a day when the client will not be home. Doing this allows everyone involved to focus on the project and not be distracted by client questions, children running through the set etc. It keeps everything moving and allows me to get more shots done in a day and collaborate with you on each shot.

2. Create a shot list of which rooms will be shot and how many images you hope to get of each room. Are they overview, vignettes or detail shots? What angles appeal to you? Depending on many variables, including wall colors, lighting in the room and the color temperatures, window light and more, determines how quickly we can move through the spaces. I can take anywhere from 6-12 shots in half a day and 20-30 in a full day shoot.

3. How will the rooms be styled? Think about how you want to style the rooms. I suggest you consider the following as props:  fresh flowers, plants, artwork, accessories, books, and food. You may not want the clients artwork in the shots if it is something you did not select so consider renting artwork for the shoot. Bring a variety of flowers so that there are a selection to choose from and that the flowers in the shots change from set up to set up. If you don't bring enough, it can look odd to keep moving the same arrangement from room to room. Consider cupcakes, a fun pastry or cake, stylish packaging for kitchen food items, and elegant soap, sea sponges etc. for bathroom shots.

4. Consider doing a walk through with the photographer prior to the shoot day. This will allow you to decide on the order the rooms will be shot in and allow me, as the photographer, to consider the lighting conditions, tight angles etc. It will also allow you to consider if there are heavy items that will need to be moved. This will allow you time to hire help to move these items, if necessary.

5. Property Releases - Get one signed before the shoot day! To protect your business from future liability issues I always advise my clients to be sure their clients understand that the images we are taking are for both the designers and my portfolio. In addition, the images created could be published in a magazine or elsewhere. I always reassure them that the client's name and address will not be used, unless they want them to be, so their privacy is respected. Be sure to have this important conversation with your client before the shoot.

The day of the shoot

1. Get your props to the location early. Consider dropping them off the afternoon before or getting to the shoot before I arrive and figure out where to place them so they won't interfere with the rooms we are shooting. It will be a hassle for you and your assistant to have to keep moving the items if they are in a shot and you don't want them there.

2. Work one room ahead of the photographer. Ideally, if you get to the shoot a bit early, you can style the first shot and remove any clutter or items you don't want in the shot. This allows you to start working on the next room while I am shooting the first one.

3. We all need to eat! Everything goes better when you, your assistant and the crew are not hungry so allow time to order food and stop to eat lunch.

4. Leave some of the flowers for the client. This nice gesture always builds goodwill for the inconvenience of having us there and thanks them for allowing us to shoot!

I am sure I will have other ideas to share with you in a future post as they come up. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section!


Explore my interiors photography portfolio to see more examples of well propped and styled interiors.