Some stuff I didn’t know about this facet of the process of having your house photographed:
1. The photo shoot crew works their asses off. They showed up bright and early, and worked until after 7pm the first day, and until about 4 the next day. And they are never still. They’re always running around accessorizing everything and composing shots, tweaking the least little thing and even editing a shot on screen.
(above: Emily Henderson, David Tsay, Coy Gutierrez)
2. They like to eat. I was glad I’d thought to put out muffins and fruit and drinks in the morning. After the first day, I treated them to dinner at my favorite restaurant, The Four Swallows.
3. They do not travel light. They showed up with tons of gear–camera and computer equipment, plus everything Emily thought she might need to accessorize my house and make it look like a magazine house. This includes stuff like shawls and throw pillows, glassware, even food items in interesting packages. She shopped at Restoration Hardware, Kennedy&Kate. When I created the character Olivia Bellamy in the firstLakeshore Chronicles book, I think I was channeling Emily before we’d even met.
4. God is in the details. A shot is composed like any other creative work, whether it’s a painting or a story on paper. There is nothing randomly placed within the frame. The curve of a horsetail fern (aka weed in my garden) in a vase echos the shape of an arc lamp, or a handbag is placed on the floor just so. One of the most eye-opening things for me was to see the way my own stuff was used–moved from room to room or just rearranged to look more artful. For example, the arrangement on the shelf below is all my stuff, but it’s been moved and made prettier.
5. The house in the picture is not your house. The stuff in the picture is not your stuff, or if it is, it’s probably been moved to a more picturesque location. Emily totally restyled my lounge room shelves and I kept them that way, because they looked a lot better. I had a bunch of random collected things, and she pointed out that it’s more restful to the eye to see the uniformity of books. I just happened to have a few books on hand. Same goes for the kitchen wall. I had retro fish market posters there, but I prefer the vintage map Emily found in the guest house, and my friend Joan’s bread tag collage.
6. If you’re a traveling stylist and photo crew, you are resourceful. Don’t like the bedspread? Flip it over and use the reverse side. Whatever you do, let no cord show. Luckily, Emily and I both love the color blue, so the bedroom turned out great. Even before I upgraded my nightstands.
7. If you have to be in the shot, you’re supposed to look oblivious to the camera and pleasantly happy. I know, it’s completely awkward, especially if you’re a geeky writer with equally geeky writer friends. Hint: To look as if you’re making conversation, say “Watermelon cantaloupe” over and over with different inflections. It will make you laugh and doesn’t weirdly contort your mouth.
Okay, that’s just seven. Ask me anything you’re curious about it. If I don’t know they answer, I’ll ask the crew, or just make it up. I’m a fiction writer, after all.
Tomorrow: Some very cool things about what made the cut and what didn’t.