What is my life even??!?!
I could try and play it cool for y’all, as if this were a normal happenstance to just casually have Better Homes and Gardens come by the house, NBD, just take a few shots for their special edition Christmas Ideas issue…WHAT?!? You guyssssss, I barely kept my chill in place, and I tried my best to seem normal and not make this face the whole time: 😃 It was so much fun! While I can’t show the final shoot images quite yet (Christmas 2018, baby!!!), I can show ya some behind the scenes! I’ll also share some tips from the pros throughout this post, so get ready to take some notes!!
The first day was spent walking through the house to check out things like lighting and room placement. The art director, Nicole, worked with me to make small adjustments and tweaks in preparation for the shoot the next day. When I decorate the house, I don’t have to consider spaces to be left purposefully blank for magazine copy to be inserted, you know? So we had to move things, clear spaces, and then adjust placement to create concise shots for the shoot photo order. She was so so sweet, fell in love with my three fluffy kitties (Tilly, Faye and June), and she put me at ease for the rest of the shoot!
Sometimes decor reads one way in person and another on camera. For instance, from the angle the photographer chose, the dining table decor sort of bled into the Christmas tree in the background, creating a messy, cluttered feel. One small tweak and everything read crisp and clear! While you and I know what things look like in person because we see it every day, sometimes a few tweaks might be needed in order to capture a crisp image of your home to share with others!
(Nicole loving on Faye…who constantly got in the shot. More about that later on…)
(Final tweaks before capturing the shot!)
Day Two started around 8:30am with more camera equipment I’ve ever seen! Who knew it took so much equipment to get a few shots, but, as I watched the photographer Adam and his assistant Jason work, it became clear that when you have quality tools and equipment, the job goes pretty quickly! They would spend 20-30 minutes setting up the shot: checking lighting, positioning screens and tripods and all kinds of gear that I have no idea it’s name. And then they’d take a couple shots, make a few tweaks with decor positioning or lighting, and then SNAP! Done!
I was so bummed on the first day of actual shooting, because we woke up to a thick blanket of fog and clouds, but I quickly learned that with all that camera equipment, it doesn’t really matter what’s going on outside. They can basically create any mood, any lighting, anything at all! I was secretly studying all their set up and choices throughout the shoot to try and hone my own skills (albeit with QUITE a bit less awesome equipment. 😉) They also said that they’d pick cloudy and overcast over direct bright sunlight any day! Easier to control and images don’t get blown out by the sun.
Rather than quickly snapping 20 pictures of the same space and then wishing I’d stopped to make tweaks to lighting and positioning beforehand, I learned that it’s best to do the work upfront and snap at the very end. Less wasted pictures, less wasted time trying to “fix” them!
(All. The. Equipment. 😳 Good tools make for great product, I’ll tell ya!)
(Portable photo monitor station. The pics were directly uploaded in real time to the large screen so we could check all the things full scale as we went!)
One of my favorite moments from the shoot was when the kitties decided to join in the fun! They strutted their stuff right into the shot and literally seemed to pose for all they were worth. So funny! We all stood behind the camera clicking our tongues, banging on the counter, doing whatever we could to get them to look at the camera just right. They were divas! Who knows if those shots will make it into the magazine, but I secretly hope so. 😉 #CrazyCatLady
During the shoot, we had the tunes going, doughnuts, snacks and coffee flowing and it was just so dang chill. Nothing like what I expected, and I was glad to be wrong! They were so good to accommodate our home, our kids’ schedules, and they even loved on our kitties, too. They even let the girls “help” edit and choose final shots! Such a nice group!
Don’t be afraid to add a little real life to styled images. I thought for sure the crew would rather me put the kitties up during the shoot, but actually, they all flipped out when the movie star cats began to strut their stuff through the frame! They said adding even imperfect glimpses of “real life” adds depth and character to precisely styled images.
(All of us clicking and tapping and cooing to get the kitties to look that way – hilarious!)
(“Helping” Mr. Adam with a few things…😉)
As each shot from the photo order was being completed, I got to check it out on their computers and see how things would be positioned and laid out. They would shoot a few options too, like all Christmas lights on, half on, all off, etc. It was crazy to watch how big of a change that could make on that high quality photograph. I got to help make small adjustments as needed, and they cracked me up after noting how great it was shooting at home decor bloggers’ homes when it came to needing extra props….they said bloggers’ homes are like one giant prop closet, and they are RIGHT!!! 😂
Obviously don’t become a full-blown hoarder, but…you just never know when that three year old bunch of red holiday berries gathering dust in your attic might just be the perfect final touch you didn’t know you (or BHG….) needed. 😉
(The life of a home decor blogger/Christmas addict. 😬 Don’t judge. 😉 Three cheers for a big attic and cheap trees from Walmart!!)
All in all, this was such a wonderfully surreal experience that I’ll not soon forget, and I honestly wish I hadn’t wasted so much time being nervous beforehand. I mean, how would I know what to expect, but…in the end, it was so chill, so fun, and I learned SO MUCH! Big thanks to Nicole, Adam and Jason for capturing our home and the love of our cats 😉, and I can’t wait to see the whole spread in Better Homes and Gardens: Christmas Ideas 2018!!!