(Disclaimer: All of the images were taken with the dreaded iPhone, LOL)
Let’s sum up last Friday in two sentences…
1. An absolute, once in a lifetime, dream come true
2. I will officially never look at a magazine the same again
Let’s start with numero un… Last Friday our home was literally taken over by the Better Homes & Gardens dream team. Well, that’s what I call them. They are every bit of my dream of a team. Talent, creativity, passion and vision all bottled up and topped off with a huge dash of mega experience.
Thea Beasley is a stylist for magazines ranging from Better Homes & Gardens to Architectural Digest and Veranda. She also styles for Ballard Designs, Currey & Company and Drexel Heritage just to name a few. Let’s just say that when I clicked on her website several weeks prior to the shoot and viewed her portfolio, I got a little nervous. A lot nervous. Mark said “are those homes she has styled or resorts?!?”
Anthony-Masterson are a wife/husband award winning filmmaking and photography team. Their photography portfolio includes work in Traditional Home, Shape and Veranda. In addition, they’ve done imagery for Ritz-Carlton, Audi and Volkswagon. They are quite possibly the cutest, sweetest and most hilarious couple in the history of cute couples. There were moments that Mark and I were crying we were laughing so hard.
And these amazing people were in our house. This is where I really wish my blog had emojis. All of the wide eyes and all of the heart eyes.
So let’s start from the beginning… Thursday evening Thea arrived at our home to begin her styling. Prior to this arrival, I had received a copy of the “Photo Order” for our shoot. To be completely and brutally honest, reading this made me a little confused, nervous and frustrated. Initially it seemed as though they wanted to remove, edit and change A LOT. More on that so keep on reading. So here’s a look at the accessory unloading (plus a ton of beautiful flowers and fruit that I forgot to capture)…
So she unloaded, took a peek around the house and was so wonderfully sweet. I had been really nervous about it all. I kept telling Mark, our house is no “Veranda home”. It looks NOTHING like the images I’d seen online. Would they be disappointed? Underwhelmed? Unimpressed? But I can honestly say, Thea was THE sweetest. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and she left for the evening and stayed at a local new bed & breakfast in our cute little historic town. Actually less than a mile from our new house!
The following morning, the photographers arrived shortly after 8am. Once again, so wonderful, so complimentary and so super easy to work with. Sigh. Of. Relief. Thea arrived shortly thereafter and the craziness commenced…
They started with the living room and began with the set-up and styling. With the “Photo Order” in hand, they knew exactly the angle needed, the items that would be seen and styled accordingly. For example, since the right side of the bookcase wouldn’t be seen, they didn’t put one single thing on a shelf. One thing that I quickly learned that surprised me a little was the fact that they focused on the exact images needed for the magazine. I assumed they would come in, take a ton of pictures and then go back and choose from there. However, they focused in on one exact shot at one exact angle and perfected that one image. And are you ready for this?… Each image took ONE HOUR to complete. Ten images = almost ten hours. Insert that wide eyed emoji dude again. And I cannot even tell you how much I loved all of the OCD going on at our home. I ate it up. Every last bit of it.
And here’s a peek at a second vignette shot they did in our living room. And my favorite part of the day… my daughter’s artwork is featured in this shot. My mommy heart is complete.
Next up, kitchen…
One thing that had really surprised me when I read the Photo Order was the removal of all of the topiaries in our kitchen. I quickly learned that the “T” word is a very bad word in the interiors print industry. For this particular company, it’s a big N-O to topiaries, fake flowers, hybrid tea roses and karate chopped pillows. How about that for random?!?
It was at about this point that I really started to understand the difference in my home as it was and the version of my home created for the magazine. The magazine is capturing each space in our home in one single image. The reader isn’t able to move about the room, to appreciate all of the little details and to understand the entire space. The reader is seeing one view. And in that view, the stylist and photographers need to capture it all. So for each room there was a focus and the goal as I understood it was to edit the room so the reader can appreciate that focus. And I have to admit, editing is one aspect of design that I struggle with. I love to mix and layer and have fun so I love it ALL. The more the merrier. On this day I learned SO much about editing that I am excited to share with you in an upcoming post!
And here’s a little view from the other side of the lens on where some of the extra items ended up piling up!
So… the darker, “heavier” and smaller objects were all removed. The rooms were all streamlined and then accented with some newer, well thought out pieces added by Thea, most at the request of BHG on the Photo Order. Another thing that made a lot of sense to me as far as adding in pieces is the fact that some of our items, particularity kitchen objects, are “loved” and well used and even the slightest bit of “dinginess” shows up ten fold in their images. Looking at the imagery on their computer as they completed each shot, I can honestly say I have NEVER seen a more crisp image in my life. The rooms literally popped out of each image and even seemed more real life than living in and viewing the actual space!
Overall one of the things that I remember and appreciate most about my experience was the intense attention to detail. I have really tried to focus more and more in my own life on reigning in my OCD and my obsession with perfection. I am learning to harness is at the appropriate time and place and not in my daily, never will be perfect life. But in this moment, in this experience and on this day, there has never been a more perfect place for the focus on “the little things”. And I literally told Mark that morning that I wanted to sit back and soak up every second of being around people so much like me. So much of what I want to be. Of what I dream to be a part of. And the environment that makes me dream so big.
And when I say “attention to detail”, I mean cutting off the second leaf from the left in the tulip vase 2″ down from the top. That kind of detail. The kind that makes me so happy I want to cry. The kind that I ever so slightly wish my hubby shared with me yet we would literally both be scrubbing the floors with toothbrushes together every single night. He reigns me in. But gosh I love it.
So each shot was about 20 minutes of styling, 20 minutes of perfecting and doing test shots and then another 15-20 of shooting. That’s a guess but it seems about right. If something could be seen in an image, at all, whatsoever, it was touched. If a view outside wasn’t quite right, things got moved or adjusted. If something was peeking out of a drawer, cabinet or a speck of dust was seen, it was corrected. Each room in each shot was the best our house has ever looked. By a mile. The funny part was that I initially thought… Yay, our house will be so clean and perfect when they leave and we can enjoy it all weekend. Yea, no. By the end of the day, stuff was EVERYWHERE. Not their fault or anyone meaning to, it just takes a LOT more than I ever imagined to shoot a home. And of course they offered a million times to help me clean up but by 6pm we were ready to call it a night! And celebrate!
Another part of this “OCD” I speak of was the rigging. I’ve done some mega rigging in my day. I know all of you fellow bloggers know exactly what I am talking about. It’s those little things we do for an image or for a post that we really have in the back of our minds when we say “don’t take us too seriously, our lives aren’t this picture perfect”. Mark removed doors that day for wider shots. We disconnected our sectional and moved sections around. We did it all. We even propped up a side table with soup cans. I will definitely be adding this to my resume. Just when I thought I had seen it all…
So room by room they came, they styled, they edited, they perfected and they freaking conquered…
All in all they shot seven rooms and three vignette shots. And to say that I cannot wait to see the magazine would be the understatement of the universe. The issue of BHG: Color Made Easy will be out in about six months and don’t worry, I will make sure you all know! So blessed and so happy to share my experience…
XOXO, Brittany Hayes