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Style At Home Photo Shoot - The Photography

by - Sunday, October 30, 2011

When Style At Home comes to shoot your home, you can expect there to be a bit of temporary chaos. That chaos mostly comes in the form of the photographer, his assistant, the camera, the viewing monitor, the lighting, the power cords, and the rest of the gear that moves from room to room to room.

But as much as things are out of place in the background, things are pure magic in front of the lens. It was so inspiring to watch Angus Fergusson and his assistant Will Fournier do what they do. I have taken so many photos of my home that it was hard for me to imagine how differently Angus could photograph it. How would he compose his shots? Would they look anything like what I had photographed? What details of our home would he find interesting enough to focus his lens on?

Two things struck me about how Angus worked. The first is the range or how much of the room was in the photos. As bloggers, I think we tend to think "big picture" - show the whole room and all the details, the quintessential Before and After shot. Magazine photography is a bit different. Its about conveying the sense of a room in a few well-composed shots. Ann-Marie Favot (the Design Editor on the shoot) told me they typically end up with only 2-3 photos per room! And those photos can be a mix... a close-up of a singular detail; a broad room shot; a photo of a vignette. It was great to see Angus focus on details in my house that I found ordinary or not-so photoworthy, but with the right lighting and composition, they became lovely, ethereal, almost romantic.

The second thing I noticed was positioning. Up the stairs, standing in a closet - Angus would put himself and his camera where necessary to get the best shot. I can't say I put in that same amount of effort for the photos I put on the blog!

Which is how I sometimes end up with what Angus calls "blog style" photos - photos taken from a standing position, aimed downward. Take a look at your own blog - do you have many photos like that? Yeah, I'm guilty of it. See:

These photos would look much better if I had crouched down, positioned myself level with the object and focused in what was really interesting instead of just standing and 'taking the shot'. Change things up, put a little more effort into it. That's a tip for you!

And here are a few more of Angus' tips on how to take better photos for your blog:
  • Use daylight to your advantage. Shoot photos in early morning or early evening when the light is soft
  • If you HAVE to get the shot (like for a birthday cake blowing), use the flash!
  • Northern light is complementary. Southern light can be harsh and bright. Be aware of the shadows
Hard shadows - bad!
Soft shadows - better!
  • Use a tripod! A tripod helps you get in-focus, sharp photos but it also helps gets the camera into physically limiting spaces. For some of the photos, if Angus couldn't stand in the spot necessary to take the photo, he would use the tripod and trip the shutter remotely. You can do the same using the timer feature on your camera. 
  • If you don't have a tripod, minimize "shaking" and out of focus photos by tightening up your body  - bend your knees slightly and keep your elbows in to your body when holding the camera

I'm really excited to see the photos when the magazine comes out (no date set yet) - I didn't peek at all the shots so I could be surprised too :) It was such a fabulous and enlightening experience and I want to say thank you to the entire Style At Home team for making one of my dreams come true!

P.S. The fun didn't end there... Style At Home Editor-In-Chief Erin McLaughlin came by on Tuesday to film a video tour of our place for a future segment on CityLine. I'll let you know when that airs too.

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