by Christian Scully
There is a very basic law of photography that should be professed from the get-go: what appears in reality is not what appears in the camera, and vice versa. It has been said that the camera is the greatest liar of all (quote a photography history course, somewhere, sometime). While you could delve for days into the philosophical meaning of this statement, I'm just referring to the very literal ability of the camera to lie, or perhaps only slightly bend the truth, or light.
The fact is that our eyes and brain are very perceptive to our surroundings, able to recognize depth, size and proportion as we move about a room. But place a glass lens in at a single perspective and reality can start to morph. Pieces of furniture can change size, five feet of space could become one, a tiny room can even appear large. It comes down to how the photographer's lens choice translates the interior onto an image.
The real job of an interior photographer, after gaining technical camera skills and understanding light, is to become a mover, a stager, a set builder. I'm not the first in saying my job is ten percent photography and ninety percent moving furniture, and though exaggerated, the notion is correct. Once determining the best angle to capture an interior, to highlight whatever the designer chooses, I then need to adjust everything in the frame according to the camera, not the eye.
Often, when working with a new client, I see the looks of worry and panic on their face as I move a piece of furniture or prop. They are viewing the space from perhaps several feet above and to the side of the camera, viewing the reality, not the story that the camera is about to tell. After assurance and an explanation, I will take the image and reveal the results, followed by sighs of relief and couple laughs. They get it.
Representing interior design is definitely something that takes a lot of practice, trial and error, attention to even the most minute details, and still consistently presents new technical challenges. Most people can walk into a room and either take it for granted or acknowledge it, saying "nice room" and move on with their lives. Not a design photographer. It doesn't matter what space I am in, interior or exterior, small or large, historic or modern, I autonomously scan my surroundings to find the best image. Like most photographers, I see the world in cropped frames. I frame my vision with lines, textures, color, shape, depth and pattern, always looking for that one hero shot. It is this thought process, this visually addicted personality, that brings value to the title of professional photographer.
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by Christian Scully
We are half-way through 2014, half-way through this amazing Summer season, and half-way through year one of Design Imaging Studios! The time is flying by between marketing, shooting, editing, editing, editing, editing... and networking, and it is very exciting to see the progress we are making. As a photographer, there is no better feeling than seeing images that you created put to use, whether online or in print. And already in the six months since I announced the launch of Design Imaging Studios our images have been used on business and editorial websites and local, regional and national publications online and in print.
As a small business owner, I welcome any opportunity to be published, whether it's small or large. Any chance to spread my name, my work and my company is a chance to attract a new client or business acquaintance. This publishing potential is not only important for myself, but an added benefit for anyone that invests in professional photography.
A perfect example of this can be seen in the latest issue of Cape Cod Home Magazine, a magazine covering home and design stories and professionals in Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Back in the Spring, we were hired to photograph the interiors of The Captain David Kelley House in Centerville, MA. By creating those images, we were creating potential content. I wrote a story about the B & B and the lovely owners, and Cape Cod Home published a 10 page spread in the new Summer 2014 issue.
This took effort and time and some good fortune to make happen, but without the investment from the owners, I would have had nothing to submit. Between newsstand sales, app downloads, mailed subscriptions, and shared readership it is estimated that just under 100,000 people turn the pages of Cape Cod Home. Talk about great targeted publicity for a local business! I am immensely happy to have been able to make this happen for Rick and Tom at the B & B, they deserve it. And I owe a great deal of gratitude to Cape Cod Home for publishing the story.
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by Christian Scully
1. Increase the Quality of My Company's Image Through Marketing
Let's be honest. You may not have the opportunity to speak to every person that stumbles across your company website. In fact, you may only end up conversing with a very small percentage of your viewers. Maximize your potential to convert a visitor to a lead by displaying your best work, in the best possible light. Design Imaging Studios focuses solely on capturing high quality photographs of spaces, whether it is architectural, interior design, construction, hospitality or more broadly categorized. Whomever you choose to represent your business, no matter what service or product you are selling, make sure your imagery reflects the quality you offer.
2. Grow a Library of Marketable Imagery to Create a Diverse and Impressive Portfolio
This is what we love. So you haven't invested in professional photography yet? Think it's time to up your game? We will work with you to create a photography plan that will result in a complete portfolio. We don't want to shoot your next project. We want to shoot your next 10 projects, and provide you an amazing and professional portfolio.
3. Develop High Quality Content to Operate My Blog of Social Media Pages (and stop just stealing images I find online)
Yes. Agreed. Just grabbing images from some unnamed source and posting a couple one or two word phrases each week to your social media outlets.... well, its a waste of your time. Not only will most people ignore that kind of content (because its a transparent attempt to hastily create content from nothing), but the fact is Facebook probably won't even show it to people. The algorithm that Facebook uses to broadcast News Feeds is becoming more and more sophisticated. Facebook now can judge the quality of the content being published, and as a way to create a better experience for users, they will not display your posts.
But, if we were to create some awesome images of your work, studio, process, clients, testimonials... audio, visual, motion, stills... you name it! Now that is quality content with a high production value. That is worth sharing. Design Imaging Studios can help.
4. Create a Visual Marketing Strategy That Works For My Budget, Schedule and Goals
Budget, schedule, and goals are three components that don't play well together. Don't let your goals burn through your budget and schedule. Don't let your budget hold back your goals. And don't let your schedule burn through your energy and drive to reach your goals. These components need to be balanced, carefully. There is most likely a way to make it all work, and we'll happily sit down and chat about ways to make it all happen. We are pretty creative, understanding, and supportive.
5. Attract Higher Budget Projects
Simple concept, but not easy by any means. Do great work. Show off said great work. Market. Market. Market. Network. Network. Network. Be patient.
Step 2: Show off said great work. Give us a call, and we can make that happen.
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by Christian Scully
The concept of services like Instagram is nothing new. The value and production of photography changed in 1900, when Kodak introduced the Brownie camera, saying “You push the button, we do the rest.” The reduced cost and increased simplicity of creating an image enabled millions of amateurs and hobbyists to click away and deliver the quickly-named “snapshot” to the modern world. Polaroid, “one-time-use”, instant, digital cameras, “point-and-shoot”, cellphone cameras and now even Google Glass… the technology changes and might improve, but the concept is hammered deeper and deeper into the minds of photo-viewers all over the world: anyone can take a picture, everyone is a photographer. This faulty idea misleads many businesses into believing that they can and should take their own photographs, but it also blurs another line.
If everyone is a photographer, than a PROFESSIONAL photographer must certainly be able to shoot anything.
Well, unfortunately, that is not always the case.
While there are talented photographers in the industry that could easily tackle most subjects because of their complete understanding of the camera, light and composition, the fact remains that there are too many genres of photography for one to devote enough time and become an expert in all. As with any skill, a photographer must practice and improve over the course of many years. I will not be spending every day for the next ten years photographing surfing, weddings, food, babies, celebrities, wild animals, AND interior design. I don’t have the time, money or even the desire to do that, and thus I won’t be deemed in expert in all of those fields. I won’t know how to time the wave in order to capture the best shot of the surfer in the tube. I won’t know how to connect with Jack Nicholson and capture the best photo for an editorial piece. Don’t ask me how to get a baby to relax and curl into some cute jelly-bean pose. And that turkey on the cover of the November issue? Mine might look very different.
You get the point. Just as a disclaimer, this is not to say a photographer can't have more than one specialty. They absolutely can. But each specialty does require different knowledge and experience specific to each photography subject.
With interior design photography, so many factors come into play that are different than in a portrait studio. We are working with space, with furniture, with windows, with light fixtures, with color, lines, textures, and telling a story through a photograph that accurately depicts the quality delivered by the designer. Through years of experience, lessons are learned, styles are created and skills are honed.
Yes, a trained photographer will hopefully take a higher quality image than your handy iPhone. But, if your goal is to create the best possible photos of your best work, to impress and earn the best potential clients, then your best answer is a specialized photographer, with passion, experience and skills specific to your needs.
Below are some images we captured for Selma Hammer, a talented interior designer in Rochester, NY. Contact Design Imaging Studios with any questions, or to chat about how we can help showcase your design projects. And please join us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr to stay tuned!
Design and Styling by Selma Hammer
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by Christian Scully
Whether I am on a shoot, in a meeting or portfolio showing, at a design show or making cold calls to potential clients, I try and always find out if a designer has worked with a professional photographer in the past, and if so, what went wrong. As I meet more and more talented designers letting their projects go un-photographed, I find I receive the same answers. Here are the top 5 reasons I have been given for not hiring a professional architectural or interiors photographer, and my response to how Design Imaging Studios can help:
1. "The cost of professional photography is just too high."
It's not surprising that this is the number one reason designers don't hire a professional photographer. And I completely understand why. The way most professional commercial photographers price their service makes it very difficult for a small design firm to take advantage of that resource. Let's face it, most interior designers are not working with million dollar budgets. So how can a one or two person firm afford to spend $1500 or more up front every time they finish a project? Most projects might only be a one room remodel, not an entire home. But if a project does not get photographed, a designer might miss out on so much more in potential business that those images could have attracted. Now that $1500 doesn't seem so high, but it doesn't change the fact that it is difficult to afford in the short term.
At Design Imaging Studios, we are changing the way interior designers are able to pay for and invest in professional interior photography, by seeking to grow a designer's portfolio over a career, not just photograph one project. We create custom packages that make our photography affordable in the short term, not just the long term, and give designers the freedom to schedule a shoot when they need it, without the pressure of cost distracting them from the long term benefits of professional photography.
2. "I don't have the energy to make sure the photographer capture's my designs correctly."
Negotiating the cost and parameters of shoot, scheduling between the homeowner and photographer, purchasing accessories, and then the shoot itself... Professional interior photography can be a lot of work. The more effort you put in, the better the resulting images are. But you shouldn't have to worry about choosing which angle of a kitchen works best for the camera. You shouldn't have to worry about making sure there is no glare on the counter you spent months searching for and having shipped in from Italy. You shouldn't be thinking about how the paint colors are going to translate on a computer screen. I have heard countless stories about designers hiring a photographer, then also being responsible for making sure the right photo is taken, just to be disappointed by the poor results.
There are definitely certain types of people that aren't able to work together. Some personalities just don't mix. Your relationship with a photographer should be one of positive collaboration. But a photographer should not be hired just to press the camera shutter. You should be hiring a photographer for their talent, for their creative eye for composition, for their ability to display colors accurately. I want a designer to make a space that they are proud of and excited about. Then I take that space and translate it into a photograph that I feel will capture the attention of viewers and potential customers. Both the designer and I have skills and creative vision, and together we can create something wonderful. It takes team work.
3. "Professional photography takes too long, I simply don't have the time."
This one I have some difficulty understanding. I photograph interior projects that have taken anywhere from two months to two years to design and build. That is two months or more of time and energy, effort and care, pressure and production. We can then photograph it in one day...
I understand that we live in a very fast paced society, and things are constantly moving. But if you don't take one day out of your schedule to document the last two months of your hard work, you have nothing to show for it, and you miss out of the opportunity to show that off to the world. You won't get business from impressive images on your website or marketing materials. You won't be published in any quality magazine. Now all you are relying on for marketing is word-of-mouth, customer referrals. Don't get me wrong, that is very important. But there is so much more you can do! The potential is so great! If you just take one day...
4. "I don't need to. I have a friend or family member that enjoys taking pictures."
Well this post is not going to be about hiring a professional over an amateur, we'll save that discussion for another time. But the bottom line is you are a talented professional running a business with your heart and soul. You might have one chance to get into a home after you complete a project. Do you want someone who has experience, talent, knows what to do and will create the best possible images of your work? Or do you want your friend or family member just to take a few snapshots and go out for lunch after. What do you you want to achieve with the images, what are your goals? Make the best decision for your business.
5. "I haven't hired a photographer in the past, why start now?"
You might have been working 10 years, 15 years, even 20 years or more and never have professionally photographed a project. So why do you need to do it now? I believe growth is important in business, learning new things, adapting to change and a more competitive industry and finding ways to stay current. Try photographing one of your newest favorite projects and see how much you love showing those images off. Then look back at your years of completed work, and the quick snapshots you took of them. It's never too late to make a change, especially when it can become such an asset to your business.
To learn more about how Design Imaging Studios can help grow your interior design business, and make professional photography a more affordable investment, send us an email or give us a call.
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