Posts in tips & tricks
Art Directing Your Projects

It’s interesting to me that some designers think they will hire a photographer and stylist for a shoot, tell him/her what shots they’re looking for, and then have the shots delivered exactly as they want with no more work involved. I always want to remind interior designers that this is your photo shoot, and that you need to art direct the day – exactly the same way that a shelter publication will when they shoot a project.

Why? Because it’s your brand, and you need it to be visually represented in the best way possible. A good photographer and stylist are going to make the rooms look good, but they may not understand your brand and what you really need from the shots

I like to work in a partnership with my clients where we’re both fully committed to getting the best visual representation of the project. And it always works best if the designer is fully engaged in the process from the minute we sign an agreement. So what does that mean?

First, you need to think about who you’re going to pitch the project to, or how the images are going to be used. Discussing this plan with your photographer will impact how the project will be styled and shot. You should also think about what the takeaways will be for the person reading the article or viewing the project.

You want to scout the project again, preferably with the photographer and a stylist. It’s a great time to think about how many shots you’ll need, how many horizontals vs. verticals, what accessories and florals you want, what the light looks like, and so much more.

Be realistic about the shoot and the amount of time it will take! Especially if there’s a room that needs the daylight and it’s going to start getting dark at 6pm. It’s so important to have a shot list ready to go. It will speed up everything and you can be sure that we don’t miss a crucial angle or room. 

So the number-one question I get from a designer is if they really need a stylist for the shoot. My answer is always yes! First, you’re too close to the project and may not be able to visualize how it needs to look for publication. Things look very different on camera.  A stylist can help move the shoot along, styling the next room while the designer and I are shooting the current space. It’s more efficient and more effective. Plus a good stylist will know what trends magazines are looking for regarding props, floral, etc.

And if you still need to be convinced – my styling team and I have a very HIGH publish rate when we work together and then pitch a project. Yep, VERY, VERY, HIGH. 

Finally, remember that you want to look at each shot as it comes up on the computer. We can make adjustments and changes then and there so we get the perfect photo. This is the time for you to make sure the shots are going in the right direction. 

If you are an involved art director in your own photo shoot, you’ll walk away knowing you got the shots you wanted, and they match your brand aesthetic.

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.

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’!