Do you ever wonder what happens at a magazine photo shoot? Well, I was filled with anxiety over this very thing yesterday.
But Franklin and Esther, the man and wife team (he photographs; she styles) could not have been nicer.
I felt like they were old friends by the end of what turned out to be a very long day. The couple came from the East coast and had stayed overnight in a hotel.
They were taking photos of my little house for a decorating magazine.
What Really Happens At A Magazine Photo Shoot:
“So what happens at a magazine photo shoot?” people are asking me.
Well, there is a LOT of equipment involved. Big tripods for one.
And a very important and vital component, the laptop where so much of it actually happens.
I had no idea you could set the cameras up, then sit down and work from a computer or remote.
That way there isn’t so much walking back and forth and checking to see what is in the shot that they might have missed.
The Editor’s Instructions:
They are given instructions from the editor who wants the feature. In this case, it was Country Sampler.
She tells them how many shots she wants of which rooms, etc.
They started in the kitchen. I stayed with the dogs in the living room while they did the kitchen and dining room.
There is only so much room, and equipment and cords are everywhere.
They Talked To Me About Different Editors:
They told me that every editor is different and that each editor has something she simply does not like.
This particular editor did not want the following things. Live plants (geez, there went my pretty house plants), lace (there went every doily), and appliances. (Okay, there went my coffee bar.)
Not only that, but there could be no telephones, computers, or anything of the kind in a shot. So there went my office that I had worked on for weeks.
They said some editors will say no dolls in the photos because they look like mummified babies. Who knew?
They Work With Many Editors In Their Business:
And since they work with so many editors for various magazines, they know their preferences pretty well. They’ve been doing this together for 25 years, they told me.
I had to fill out and sign release forms. And I was given a letter from the editor of the magazine, explaining how things would go once the shoot was over.
They Shoot A Year Ahead:
They shoot at least a year ahead, she wrote. And write the articles many months in advance.
Then when they start to work on an issue, they finalize the editorial line-up of home tours and contact the person who lives in the home. This is to confirm that their home is going to be published.
The magazine publishing world may or may not use your feature. I guess it all comes down to specifics and what happens with last-minute editorial decisions.
Rules You Are Given By The Editor:
You cannot let your home be scouted or considered for publication, or be published in any other competing decorating-related magazine or book until your home has appeared in their magazine.
And the same goes until after that issue is no longer for sale on the newsstand.
When they assign the article interview to a writer, which could be several months down the road, a managing editor will call you. She will then conduct a “pre-interview.”
That person will ask you some brief questions so that they can provide the writer with a basic direction for the formal interview.
A Printout Of The Final Photos Will Be Sent To You:
She will either mail or email you a printout of the final photos before the writer calls. You CANNOT post these photos to your blog, as they are copyrighted images.
When (and if) your home is scheduled for publication, you will receive a call from the copy editor for fact-checking and clarifications, if necessary.
What I Fed Them For Lunch:
I fed them deli tuna salad (they have very good deli tuna at my grocery store) for lunch. It was served on poppy seed bread with coleslaw, sweet potato tortilla chips, and iced tea.
For dessert I served warmed cinnamon rolls.
We ate very informally around my $35 round oak coffee table I found at a garage sale.
They loved Abi and Charlie. Charlie was very shy but finally took to them.
Things In Your Home Will Be Moved Around:
No matter what you have done to your house in preparation, you must know that things will get moved around.
For instance, I had changed up the dining room considerably since I sent in the photos. I had moved the two tables and the potting bench I painted white in there.
Well, since the editor would not like the changes, all the coffee things had to go and they moved other things in there instead. The editor might nix the whole room or feature over that one thing.
Esther did the styling. She removed some things and added others.
My poor plants were put into solitary confinement during the photo shoot. And my yellow bromeliad had such a beautiful bloom!
I had also changed up the living room wall. They said they liked the window pane over the mantel better actually, but the editor might not.
So if you are having a magazine send photographers to your home, don’t change things the editor has already seen.
A Problem With A Painting They Wanted In:
I told them the painting over the fireplace that I sent photos of had to go. The plexiglass had come out of the frame at the top.
Flying bugs had found their way in and died at the bottom of the painting. That was not a pretty picture, quite literally. So I took it down.
(Poor Abi. “Mom, make all the flashing lights go away.”)
The editor wanted a photo of the dogs on the bed. But they refused to comply for some reason.
Instead they took a photo of me sitting in my favorite chair with the dogs.
They Will Bring Props:
(They brought the flowers, tomatoes and apples. Not sure if they made the cut or not. I wasn’t in there.)
They were here till after dark, as they had told me they would be. After they left, I began to put things back where I had originally had them.
I will let you know when (and if) this house makes it to publication.
Would I do it again? If I had those two particular individuals, I would. It was very interesting to see how all this is done.