You’ve spent months (if not years) sourcing for the perfect pieces, curating just the right fabrics and paints, and working alongside your preferred workrooms to bring to life custom finishings. The only thing left to do is share your project with your clients…and hopefully the world! Placing your project into the capable hands of an interior photographer is the final step in your project’s journey and one of the most important to garner future clients. We tapped three top interior photographers and Circaphiles directory members to share their philosophy on design, their creative approach, and what they wish interior designers knew for best possible results. Meet them below and hear their take!
A Florida native, photographer Elizabeth Nielsen grew up in the sun at the beach…and not much has changed! Now based in Los Angeles, Elizabeth photographs interior and architectural projects from the exteriors to the interiors, down to the furnishing, accessories, and design details. With both parents as architects and growing up in design firms, the passion for design has been engrained in Elizabeth from a very young age. She also draws influence from her grandmother, an established abstract painter from the 1960s. Elizabeth’s immersive experience attending Savannah College of Art and Design and graduating with a BFA in interior design was the foundation for her love of emotive imagery of architecture and interior photography.
Ever since her days as a young girl exploring picturesque Charleston, SC, and the wild, rough aesthetic of the South, Margaret Wright has been drawn to beauty in all things. As an interior and architectural photographer, Margaret is passionate about capturing great design and the heart of a space. She first fell in love with design and the art of communicating a brand’s identity through images when she was working as the lead photographer and stylist for a home decor and furniture company. Today, Margaret is taking those skills into spaces to tell the stories of designers, architects, and builders, and the beauty they create.
Sara essex Bradley
Sara Essex Bradley has been a professional photographer since 1999 shooting for local and national magazines, as well as design professionals. Sara received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of Georgia. For her continued education, she assisted in New York for 4 years. Sara started her business in her hometown of New Orleans and now travels all around the world photographing residential and commercial interior projects. In July 2015 Sara was awarded the New Orleans Press Club Award for Still Photography Feature.
Q. What is one thing you wish interior designers knew about working with an interior photographer?
SARA essex BRADLEY: One thing designers should know is that every angle they had imagined may not be viable, and they should trust their photographer to show the space off in the most sophisticated way. What they see on their phone snap may not be the best final shot to attempt. That being said, absolutely do point out the special details so we don’t overlook them. Also, a one-day photoshoot is two days: one for shooting and one for editing and retouching. That part takes just as long and requires just as much skill and equipment. Sorry, that’s two things!
Q. How can designers better prepare for photo shoots with a photographer?
Margaret wright: Always bring more than you think you need. More accessories, more books, more foliage. And scope out the house before, especially if it’s been a while since the install. Set expectations with the homeowner, there’s nothing worse than walking into a surprise on shoot day. You should also consider capturing some lifestyle imagery of you and your team in the space! These images are great for marketing and social, but you definitely want to knock them out at the beginning as shoot days tend to be long and involve a lot of heavy lifting.
Q. How do you approach a shoot to ensure you capture the space in the best possible way?
elizabeth nielsen. I like to do a few laps of the project (ideally before a shoot) to get a sense of the scope myself so certain moments can start to be visualized; along with observing what times of day the light is best to fully enhance a space.
Q. What are some misconceptions about design project professional photography?
elizabeth nielsen: That it’s unnecessary; the thing is, you’ve worked hard to “birth” your project, and it should be presented as such — it’s a memory in time worth preserving at the highest quality.
Q. What is one timeless moment you like to capture in a project photo shoot?
sara essex bradley: I like to find one space in the house where the light is doing something interesting and dramatic, or I can relate two spaces to each other, like looking through a door from room to room, or down the stairs. I know it when I see it.
If I am capturing lifestyle/people moments in the space, I like to wait until the homeowners are relaxed and interacting with each other. They’ll usually do something a lot more interesting than when I try to pose them.
Q. What are the top three must-haves at a photoshoot?
-Flowers + houseplants
-Lunch! We all like to power through like we don’t need it, but I find the best work happens when everyone is fueled.
Q. Is there one thing editors are always looking for when you pitch your projects?
sara essex bradley: That’s the elusive question, isn’t it? I think they are all different, but I think most just want to see something original and fresh, regardless of the style. I think the best way to pitch a project is to study the look of the magazines you are pitching, and find where your project would fit in. Also, even if it’s a magazine that sends their own art directors and photographers to shoot for their pages, it’s always better to send professional photos for them to consider, and not phone snaps.