Are You Photo Ready?

Interior design branding expert, Kim Kuhteubl of MeByDesigndeeply understands the value of establishing your brand identity. That’s why Kim is on a mission to provide designers with the resources they need to build visibility and awareness both on and offline. Here, Kim shares her tips on how to make the most of your portfolio.

Never underestimate the power of energy and resonance when it comes to your portfolio photography. It’s your calling card and the first experience a potential client has of you. It’s also the single most important element in the building and communication of your interior design brand. Here are a few tips to help you get good ones.

Less is more. If you’ve just launched and you’re bootstrapping your business, don’t junk up your portfolio with images that are low quality or off-brand. Set the tone with one or two shots using the highest quality camera you have and leave your prospective clients wanting more. Save the “before”s and “after”s for your blog or iPad presentation during a sales meeting. That way you can explain the problem and your solution step by step. Your website photography is meant to wow.

Find your fit. Hire a photographer who specializes in interiors keeping in mind that there is a distinction between architectural and interiors, lifestyle, real estate and portrait photography. Not all architectural photographers shoot people well and vice versa. Are you hiring this photographer because they’re cheap or because you like their work? There’s a big difference. You want this project to help you land your next job but it’s also going to be a part of your archive. If you plan to write a book later on, these photos are the ones that document how you’ve grown as an artist. Make them good.

Get the wide. You’ve hired your photographer because of their POV and the way they tell a story. Don’t micromanage their process but do discuss a shot list of images you’d like to get on the day. Make sure that list includes a wide shot of each room and the home’s exterior to establish. Even if you’re targeting a specific publication and you know they love detail shots, don’t assume you know which details the editor is going to love.  Give them at least one shot of the entire room—from a couple of angles is better—to plan from.

Get a contract. I don’t care how famous the photographer is. I don’t care how laid back they are, or how not cool you think it makes you look. Just because they’re a great shooter doesn’t meant they’re great at doing business. It can be simple. Where and when are they going to shoot? How much will they get paid? How many images will they deliver? By when? What about retouched images? Who owns the copyright? What happens in the event they default on any of the deliverables? What are the terms for deposit and payment? If you do end up getting caught up in the thrill of it, then at the very least I recommend that you pay through paypal. Mark clearly what the payment is for in the notes box when you send it. Then if something goes awry in the process, you can file a dispute. If you can’t come to an agreement, you can escalate the dispute into a claim and paypal will step in to determine the issue’s outcome.

Enjoy. You’ve worked hard to make this project beautiful. The process of capturing it for others to see is supposed to be fun so let it be. You can’t control the weather or the changing daylight but you can manage how you feel throughout the day. Enjoy the collaboration.

Kim Kuhteubl works with interior designers on branding, visibility and money. Read more tips about photography in her book Branding + Interior Design available September 29, 2016.