Photographing home interiors is not something that we normally do, so when we were approached late last year for doing just that we were cautiously interested. We agreed with the client to go have a look at the property but were completely unprepared for what we found!…
The home was located in an upmarket neighbourhood, situated high up a hill with a beautiful view stretching from surrounding suburbia to the distant mountains east of Cape Town. The house was brand-new, double-storey, and big – really big! It was lovingly built with tremendous attention to detail and a lot of forethought – squarely aimed at technology-savvy and demanding owners that love space and clean, modern lines. It was enormously spacious, very stylish, and completely wired for computer networks, audio and visual entertainment throughout, central air conditioning, and even boasting it’s own movie theatre! I will not bore you with listing all the living spaces and features, just take my word that it had everything you could possibly want in a modern home – and a lovely place to take photographs of.
However there was a problem….. in fact, two problems….. two huge problems, at least from a photographic point of view.
The house was empty….. and unfinished.
The reason for being empty and unfinished was a simple and valid one – it has never been lived in before (brand new, remember) and the intention was that the new owner will want to select his/her own finishings such as cupboards, kitchen worktops and appliances, etc. All very valid and logical reasons, but definitely not a source of comfort for a photographer needing to creates images of a home for marketing purposes!
If you look at marketing material for homes you will see that these dwellings are normally fully furnished, beautifully decorated, spotless and complete, and surrounded by well-manicured gardens. Aside from having to consider lighting and other relatively minor considerations, these homes are normally quite ready for being photographed.
All of these were not options open to us, we were asked to prepare a photography proposal and quote for shooting the property as is. Our job was clearly cut out for us and presented a considerable challenge. How do you create images of an empty, unfinished home that will give some indication as to it’s size, purpose of the various spaces, and make it’s appeal apparent enough for a prospective buyer to want to go take a closer look?
After some vigorous head-scratching Jaunine was the first to come up with a possible solution. We took some time to fine-tune her idea and then proposed this concept to the client: Let’s use one or two models and some simple props to create the illusion of a relatively young couple that has just bought the property and are now planning on how to furnish it, complete the missing features, and tailor it to become their dream home in which they can start a family and build their future. Doing this should add some life to the images, create some indication of size and perspective, and add some interest to the images.
After seeing my initial proof shots of the property the client was enthusiastic for us to proceed, and what follows are some of the images that we came up with during two shooting sessions – the initial proof session during daytime, and the second during early and late evening, shot about a week ago.
Although this was a somewhat unusual assignment for us, we thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of solving the difficulties facing us. Our models for the shoot played along cheerfully and we had tremendous fun doing the shoot even though it took much longer than anticipated due to particularly difficult lighting conditions. Our respect for architectural and home interior photographers has grown by quite a margin!
The final product was delivered to the client earlier today and his response to it was a real pat on the back for us – he was over the moon and could not stop looking at the images, even asking “Is this really my house? Does it really look that good?” Well, what more can a photographer ask for – a happy client makes a happy photographer!
Finally, for the technically minded – all images were shot using a Nikon D700 body and a 16mm f/2.8 lens in raw, with the images processed using Lightroom and Photoshop.
As always – feel free to post your comments, thoughts, or suggestions below.