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Photo Styling: Behind the Scenes

For the last couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of working for Chip Wade. I can't tell you what this particular project is or show you any real images (super secret photo stylist spy stuff), but it has been a blast and he could not be nicer. If you have ever seen his show, Elbow Room (not related to this project), then you have seen how talented, funny and easy going he is. I helped Cristi Holcombe complete decorating the project and on this day, I was the stylist for the photo shoot. Here are Chip and I are on set. Yes, I'm barefoot. I keep it classy, folks.

 Me and HGTV's Chip Wade

Me and HGTV's Chip Wade

Perhaps you may be thinking, "How hard can it be to take a picture for a magazine? Just a fancy camera on a tripod, right?"

 From behind the camera

From behind the camera

It is a bit more complicated than that. The real scene looks more like this, with lights, filters, screens, computers, cords and a bunch of people standing in strategic places holding things to dull or enhance the light depending on the need. The photographer takes dozens of shots of the final image and edits for the final image by layering them on top of each other to get the right balance and lighting in every area of the room. Before the final shots are taken however, someone like me styles the shot from a particular angle and frame. The photographer shoots an image, we study and study it, move and tweak items a quarter of an inch here, four inches there, over and over again until it's just right. It takes, on average, an hour to get one shot! And that is before the photographer goes back to his/her studio and begins editing!

(Also, the dirty little secret is that behind the camera on each shot, the set or home is a total disaster. So if you feel bad about yourself and your inability to have and keep a glossy magazine perfect house, those folks can't either! Now doesn't that feel good?)

 This is where the real beauty is tweaked 4,348 times for print.

This is where the real beauty is tweaked 4,348 times for print.

A photo stylist's job is to collaborate with the editor, photographer and/or project manager and discuss the purpose of the image and the story the image is trying to tell. If we are shooting a mud room or back entry, we will think about the story - do we want them to live in the country? Are there kids or pets at home? If so, we might have a pair of kids rain boots with one of them being off kilter, a dog leash, and a large canvas bag on a hook with wild flowers coming out of the top. If the story is of a power couple in the city, we might have stacks of books, well manicured roses in a sterling silver vase, and Jimmy Choo shoes placed neatly under a well organized console table.

This story is of a family who lives in the outskirts of town. I bought bushels of vegetables that looked like they might have just been picked and arranged them just so. Can't you just picture that incredible garden?

 A basket that says, "We just came in from the garden with nature's bounty!"

A basket that says, "We just came in from the garden with nature's bounty!"