Preparing for a Photo Shoot

During our Pre-Production talks we'll develop a shared vision for the photographs, define the shot list, and plan our styling. The secret to conducting a successful photo shoot is following through on our plan.

Cozy and fun living room in Woodside, CA filled with warm afternoon light.  Photographed by Dean Birinyi, interior photographer in San Francisco, CA.   

Before the shoot

There’s a lot of preparation that goes on before a photo shoot takes place, but our planning ensures we get it done quickly and easily.


•The first thing we need to do is schedule the photo shoot one or two days after the housekeepers have worked their magic.
•Try to schedule the shoot when your clients are away. It will help you focus on the task at hand without having to also handle customer relations (or explain the changes we’re temporarily making to their home).

Light filled craftsman kitchen in El Cerrito, CA with model to describe application of design.  Photographed by Dean Birinyi, interior photographer in San Francisco, CA.   


Styling is an art, and emphasizing the bolder end of the spectrum often works better than leaning too subtle. You need to select key accessories that will add the crowning touch to the design, such as vases, books, pillows, throws, trays, etc. The Pre-Production questionnaire will help you make your selections based on our shared vision of what we're trying to achieve in each photograph. Ultimately, hold fast to your design concept, and don’t be tentative about your choices.

Get help

A photo shoot is a busy place, and there’s a lot of running back and forth. Having a design assistant at the ready allows you to focus on being creative and keeps you from burning out in the middle of the shoot.

Organizational tips and recommendations for the day of the shoot

Plan to be on-site at least an hour or two before me. This will give you time to do your customer relations and still be fully prepared for the day's adventure.

Flowers – Take a few minutes to trim the stems and put them in water immediately. Don’t just set them on the counter. We need them to relax and acclimate, so they'll look their beautiful best.

Props – Select an area for your props that’s convenient, out of the way, and large enough for you to work in, then place the props there, so they're readily accessible when needed.

Pre-Shoot Snapshots – Anything that needs to be moved will also need to be returned to its proper place. Don't rely on your memory. Photograph shelves, bookcases, and tables before you clear them off. The reference photos make it much easier to put things back where they belong at the end of the day.

Arrange and Tidy Up – Prepare the areas for photographing by arranging the furnishings the way you want them and clean up any spaces that look cluttered by removing remote controls, wilted flowers, personal pictures, dog beds, etc. The cleaner the canvas, the better the end result. And don’t forget to sweep if you've moved furniture or plants. (We'll probably sweep the floor several times during the shoot just to be safe.)

Making it wonderful

Now it’s time to add the cool stuff you’ve brought to make the design look spectacular. The truer to your vision you are, the better the photographs will be. Here are a few things that will help you achieve the results you want:

  1. Remember that less is more.
  2. Don't try too hard to make it perfect. It can end up looking artificial if you do.
  3. Consider every element. If it's not helping, it's probably hurting, so remove it.
  4. Have fun, be creative, and express yourself. After all, we're doing a photo shoot! (and we'll adjust things as we go, if needed)


Blue bedroom nightstand vignette.  Photographed by Dean Birinyi, interior photographer in San Francisco, CA.      

Why You Should Work with Me Today

Working with me is a collaborative event. I'll listen to your unique needs and draw upon your insight and awareness to create images that capture our shared vision and engagement with the space.

A well styled living room where the designer created just the right feel with use of texture, color form and balance in selection and placement of styling elements.  Photograph by Dean Birinyi, interior photographer in San Francisco, CA.