Maker Monday - Moving in Front of the Camera



Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy


It isn’t often that people turn the lens around and focus on me – I’m used to being behind the camera directing the action. So it was fun to be featured in Aspire Home & Design Magazine !

I like interviews that aren’t the same old boring questions – the Aspire reporter sent me some quirky ones to answer. They give you some interesting insights into things you may not have known about me. For example, most people may know that I have an architecture background, but not that my favorite board game is backgammon. Don’t know why you would need to know that, but hey, it makes us closer friends now, right? 

The regular Aspire feature focuses on “makers,” which may seem like an odd category for a photographer. But I see my role as crafting a message for designers and architects. You design rooms and homes, and I help create the best visual representation of that work. Basically it’s my job to make your work look as gorgeous as it can!

I’m a visual brand expert – someone who can take a designer’s work from good to FAB! With lighting, styling, and your designs…we make magic. My photos help tell your story. They elevate your brand and get you attention from press, clients, potential partners, and more. My work should help you get more work – that’s why I do what I do.

Well, I also do it for the endless supply of white linen shirts and fresh baguettes (see the article), but mostly I do it because I love my job behind the camera!

Okay, enough about me. Let’s turn that lens back around and focus on you!

What is the best bait for getting editors attention and new clients?
May 2019 Issue of Designers Today

May 2019 Issue of Designers Today

Indispensable imagery.

Designers Today delivers the tips and takeaways to make sure your interior design brand is as successful as your designs - including marketing tips, business strategies and more. In the May issue they focused on the importance of how gorgeously lit and professionally styled photography can be the best bait for getting editors attention as well as new clients.

Beautiful bathroom design by  Denise McGaha

Beautiful bathroom design by Denise McGaha

I was very flattered to be among the selected creatives sharing our expertise in regards to all that goes into making the magic happen in interior photography. It was a fun talk with editor Jane Dagmi about things that affect the shoot day in a positive and negative way. Our approach to the interior shoot with our clients from knowing the marketing direction and who they are targeting.  And of course my take on scouting and how beneficial the planning is to making it a very efficient shoot day. 

If you didn’t get a chance to pick up the May issue then you can read the digital version here. 

Podcast! Stephen shares his expertise about interior photography

Last February Kristen had the pleasure of attending the Design Influencers conference in Atlanta. A conference specifically focused on the design industry. Among the many design influencers she connected with she was very excited to meet Darla and Natalie from Wingnut Social and also Darla Powell Interiors. We are podcast addicts and love how they are sharing excellent marketing information specifically tailored to the design professional. Stephen shares his expert advice to designers (and photographers should listen too) about getting started working with photographers, lighting, secret tips for you taking your own photos and much more. We hope this podcast will not only bring you new insights but a few laughs as well. Click here to listen to a fun take two.

Natural Light Photography, or is it??

Ooooooh, look at that light, that awesome light, its ethereal, glowing, spectacular, it makes everything pop! You know what I’m talking about, you’ve seen it. That early morning on vacation in Rome when you see the rising sun make the street in front of you come to life, or that last bit of light after a sunset in Santa Fe, where the pink clouds above make the world look like you are in a candy jar. That is magical light, so good its nearly un-replicable. We see these magical moments inside as well. Everyone has that one room in their house where the sun bursts through the window at just the right angle that it makes the room come alive. And then, 15 min later its gone, the room is flat and dull looking.

(spoiler alert, all of the above images were made on rainy or cloudy days, no sun needed.)

As a photographer the first thing I look for in any shot, is the natural light. Is it awesome? Will it get better later, or did I miss the good light earlier, are those clouds rolling in? A pre-scout usually helps me determine when the light will be best in any room of the house, so I’m prepared going in to maximize the natural light as much as possible, but then sometimes things change on the shoot day. It could be raining and dreary(happens more than a lot), so how do I deal with that?

I use professional lighting! You know, all that gear you would expect me to have ready to go when the light is really bad.

The key to using artificial lighting in my shots is to make you think its all natural light, and that has been something I’ve been trying to perfect in over 20 years of shooting. There are so many tricks we can use now with photoshop, but call me old school, I still like to get it looking nearly 95% perfect at the point of capture, thats how we had to do it shooting with film. No photoshop needed. Knowing how and when to add supplemental lighting is from years and years of observing what natural light actually looks like and does to a room, in all types of situations. It helps me get to control exactly how the final image will look, and I can adjust it to taste, like a chef. Some like a little more spice, do you?


Stephen Karlisch
From Scout to Finish, The Reason I Always Scout (and so should you!)

Scouting is one of the most important aspects of any of my shoots. I try to scout every single shoot now, its that important to me and for my clients. For years I would sometimes scout, or not worry about it for a home interior shoot, thinking I could show up first thing in the morning on a shoot day and figure it all out. I think many photographers that shoot for interior designers fall into this category, and they are missing a huge opportunity to make the shoot a success before it even happens. From a scout I’m able to determine the angles that work best, which shots should not even be attempted (huge time saver), and a schedule of how I want to shoot the house based on the lighting throughout the day. But probably the main reason I scout every shoot is to inform the styling of the final shots. For example, you will see in some of these examples several things were changed, and some only floral was added.

before

after

after

As you can see from this shoot with Allison Seidler Interiors, we decided to move furniture around, swap out a couple of lamps, side tables, and restyle the coffee table. Everything was shifted quite a bit towards the camera to allow for separation with the white chair and table, and sofa on right was moved into the space.

before

before

after

after

This kitchen shoot with Staci Steadley really benefited from the scouting shots. The florist, Haile Wossen, was able to determine the scale of floral to bring to fill in the window on the right, and the new barstools brought in by Staci changed the entire feel of the room. Removing homeowner clutter and knowing how much work will be needed ahead of time are huge time savers. Bring extra help!

before

before

after

after

And lastly, this living room by SBLong Interiors needed a lot of minor adjustments that we were able to decide before starting our shoot that day. Walking into this room knowing what was needed to happen made this transformation last about 30 min from start to finish.

So, you can see how and why I scout all my shoots. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of what can feel like a stressful day if you aren’t prepared. Do yourself a favor and scout!

"Doin' It For the Gram" - Pro Tips For Better Instagram Shots
Stephen Karlisch

Ever wondered how some feeds are so gorgeous and appealing to look at on Instagram? Having a good eye for a great shot is part of the magic of that appeal, but there are specific strategies you can leverage to ensure your pix get likes & your ‘gram following grows. Follow these tips I shared with DMC Designers Guide from Dallas Market Center for their January issue.

Tip 1:

Use an app like Snapseed (free) or VSCO to edit your images before posting.  Its really important that you find a look that you love to apply to all of your images, and these apps are the best.  Every image, iphone or not, will need some editing.  I like to brighten my images, add a little contrast and saturation(be careful not to go crazy here!), and straighten my shots.  

Tip 2: 

Cropping for Instagram.  Keep in mind the best crop for Instagram is a 4x5 proportion.  Crop images before posting, and stay consistent in this area as well.  Maybe you want all verticals, or square, or mix in horizontal shots, but when viewing your grid it should have a meaningful pattern. 

Tip 3: 

Details are best.  Tight cropped images of details get better results, because people can see them better.  If you post a huge room shot as a horizontal shot you will not get much impact, but it may work well on your website(horizontals always work better on websites).  Think vertical, and tight. 

Tip 4: 

Down shots of details to tell a story.  Think mood board, or swatches for a project, or a coffee table....  Again, stay level, tight and vertical.

Tip 5: 

Color!  Try to group images in your grid with a color element.  Think in groups of 9, or multiples of 9.  If you can, keep objects in mind to place in shots to pull in that color, just 'do it for the gram!'  

Bonus tips...   

When shooting detail shots, try to shoot them straight on, and from a lower position than shooting standing up.  Get low, and level!  In Snapseed there is a tool for automatically straightening your images, learn how to use it! 

Now, go out there & get snappin’!