Expert Advice for Styling Beautiful Home Photography


Expert Advice for Styling Beautiful Home Photography

Annette Joseph shares her tips for styling beautiful home photography and finding the soul of a room.

Atlanta-based photostylist/producer Annette Joseph possesses an intangible skill that keeps us hooked on our favorite shelter magazine publications: the ability to breathe life into interior spaces. My first encounter with Joseph was at a private mock photo styling session where I watched her artistry in action. It was at that moment I realized how much I took for granted the effort that goes into making an interior space magazine-ready.

I often look for her name in the styling credits as I read some of my favorite shelter magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens, Atlanta Magazine, and Renovation Style Magazine, and appreciate the pages so much more now that I’m privy to what goes on behind the scenes. In this interview, Joseph educates us on her craft and shares tips and tricks for styling your own home photographs.

Erika Ward: How do people and pets effect the overall mood conveyed in a styled photograph?

Annette Joseph: Interior shots that include people (in this case, the homeowner) and pets truly speak to me; they are the key elements that essentially bring the photo to life.

Each shelter magazine has its preference regarding the use of lifestyle shots, and if you read a variety of them you will see which ones prefer people walking through a room and which ones do not. There are differing opinions on whether or not lifestyle shots add or distract from the room’s focus.

I will say that once you introduce life into the shot it complicates the process and becomes more time consuming. Nevertheless, people and pets are my preference, and they add an element of fun.

EW: How does styling a photo for a magazine differ from staging a home for sale?

AJ: I have styled model homes but never staged homes for sale. So I can only speak to designing a model home versus photostyling. Working on designs for models is very much like producing a styling job, except that the room is photographed at the end of the process. Since I am a stylist I only think in terms of designing a home or room to the last detail. Regardless of it being photographed or not, my rooms are always photo-ready. I cannot do it any other way.

EW: What are some of the key elements that make a space feel welcoming in photographs?

AJ: A sense of order is very important in a photograph; great composition, balance, and warmth are a key factors. But that is not all – it’s not that simple. When I work with talented photographers to make a beautiful image, it is collaborative and artistic. A photo needs a soul, and finding that soul in the home is what I do. It is not a tangible thing.

EW: Give an example where you styled a photo to disguise a flaw in the space.

AJ: There are times when the flow of a space is not ideal, but most of the spaces we photograph are beautiful to start. When the flow is not ideal the camera angle is actually more important than the styling.

It is very difficult to style a shot to distract, after all you see everything in a photograph. I style shots to enhance the beauty of a space, not distract from something unappealing.

EW: Why should an interior designer consider using a stylist when shooting photographs for a portfolio?

AJ: When a potential client sees your portfolio, they should want to live in a space that you designed. This feeling should resonate through every photo in your portfolio no matter the room.

A stylist can help your client to translate comfort, function, and great design without them having to physically visit the space.

Simply put, designers and stylist work hand in hand to tell a story and evoke feelings through interior photography.

Interested in styling your home? Start with a small vignette to gain confidence. Many of the items pictured above are pieces you may already own.

With a wall mirror, stylish lamp, books, vases, and flowers you can create a gorgeous feature in any room of your home.

Annette Joseph’s photostyling tips and tricks:

1. Photograph your rooms in slices. Looking at your room from a photograph gives you an objective view of the space.

2. When photographing multiple rooms, use a color thread throughout each room to make the photo story come together.

3. Less is more.

4. If you like tchotchkes, corral them in a tray for a cleaner look.

5. When making a space look lived-in, pull the chair out just a little from the dining room table. When shooting a bed ruffle the sheets a bit.

6. Instead of purchasing flowers from a prepackaged bouquet, buy a mass of the same flower.

7. Continue to examine each photo for equal weight and balance.