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The Bachelor Pad Photo Shoot Story

by habituallychic

04 . 06 . 09

I always try to very respectful of the designers whose work I choose to post on my blog because I know how much hard work goes into even the most simple of projects. It’s not just the projects that take a lot of work though, documenting them takes just as much work which is condensed into a span of just two days! I finally styled my bachelor pad project professionally photographed recently and the photographer, Jonathan Ragle, and I thought it would be fun to not only post the final photos but chronicle what actually goes into a shoot. There is real life which looks one way and there is what the camera sees which can be totally different. As Jonathan described to me, “the camera is only one eye without a brain, so it flattens things out and distorts, but it also allows me to make omissions and emphasize elements of a scene that really make the point of a designed space.”

Of course, before we could shoot the apartment, Jonathan had to take my portrait. If you have a good eye, you might notice that in post production, he put a painting over the television. Jonathan’s advice is to be careful of any electronics that may date quickly. We also moved all the books on the coffee table so the spines faced the camera. Now when I read magazines, I have a tendency to look at them from a stylistic perspective and notice when they make these little changes.

I might be good at taking vacation photos but I didn’t know the first thing about shooting interiors until Jonathan showed me the ropes. Whereas before, I might shoot the whole room, now I know it’s better to create little vignettes. As Jonathan says, “if I simply stand back with a wide lens and photograph the entirety of every room in a place, sure everything has been documented, but then the photos look like real-estate listings or Library of Congress files. If we close in, and treat the photograph as a piece of artwork in it’s own right, then people will be attracted to it’s balance, and they will want to look at it and study it and, generally, they will want to see that place for themselves or recreate the feeling of it. It’s like choosing where to place a window in a living room which looks out onto a great view. You have to make some decision, so it should be great! Also it quiets the experience and focuses the mind. If you want to see the whole view, then you can always go outside.”

As Laurie Reynolds were styling the apartment the day before the shoot, Jonathan stopped by to take test shots which would then create the shoot schedule for the next day. The shot above is one of my favorites because it’s one I never would have thought of on my own. After working with Jonathan, I look at spaces in a whole new way.

Part of the process involves making a complete mess and moving everything else in the room while shoot one particular area. What Jonathan is doing now is checking the computer to look at the composition of the photo. I really enjoyed this part since part of what I do is look at images all day and I can tell if something isn’t working or should be changed. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes a room can look great in real life but the camera lens will distort the image and you need to move things in order for it to work on film.

Since these photos were just for the blog and my portfolio, it was just the two of working together most of the day which actually made it a lot quicker and we could take more shots. If it were a magazine shoot there would many more people and opinions involved. According to Jonathan, “a magazine interior shoot is often ‘propped’ to some degree, not unlike a home would be if it were for sale. This varies of course from subject to subject. If the owner is very close to a great designer or stylist, or is a great designer themselves, then we just move things around to suit the camera angles and convey the experience one has by being there. One big potential influence on magazine shoots is how many interests are at play. You may have things in a home which were given to the owner or donated to the shoot in hopes that they would appear in the magazine story…major things, like whole kitchens. It is rarely that extreme, but it does happen and those contributions need to be considered, especially where they really benefit the interior and the photographic story.”

The desk was one of the shots were we had to move items around numerous times to make sure they looked right on camera. The apartment faces North so the light was also a factor and why we left some of the lamps on. Usually for magazine shoots, they leave all the lamps turned off.

I didn’t have any good photos of the dining area of the apartment so it was important for me to get a good shot for my portfolio. Jonathan tried the same test shot that I took which was of the table with the wall of maps behind but it looked lifeless so I’m so glad he came up with the idea too shoot it from the kitchen. It’s another example of thinking outside the box and looking for different angles in the room. I didn’t crop any of the photos so I may take out the light fixture. We ran out of money when we got to that area so I had to paint it instead of replacing it.
It was also very important for me to get a shot of the bedroom without wrinkled sheets! I also love how you can see the city skyline through the bamboo blinds.

Since the linens were such a big deal and I mentioned to Jonathan how the “Do You Iron Your Sheets” post garnered the biggest response, he thought it would be funny to take a photo of me with the iron in my hand! Then I yelled at him since my shirt was untucked and I had no lipstick on and I made him retake it after I had freshened up! I also hadn’t finished styling the room in this shot.

One popular interior shot is to cut the bed and just take it with one nightstand. There was also an outlet in this shot that Jonathan was kind enough to remove the visually offensive item in post production. If anyone forgot what the place looked like before the makeover, you can click here.

It was a lot of work but I am so happy to have professional photos to finally share now. Jonathan did such a great job setting everything up before we began that I don’t think it could have gone any better. And even though it was a lot of exhausting work, it was really fun too! It’s really a shame that there aren’t that many magazines left since I enjoyed being an editor for a day. If anyone needs a photographer, I highly recommend Jonathan Ragle. When asked what he loves best about being a photographer, he replied, “I love the relationships I build with my subjects and the people connected. It’s my job to see things that other people would love to see but probably can’t any other way.” Oh, and if anyone needs a stylist, you know where to find me!

Comments Closed

  1. maison21 April 7, 2009 | 2:10 am

    i love that you are respectful of others on your blog, and always such a positive breath of fresh air. it always makes visiting here a joy.

    so let me be the first to respectfully say: the photos look amazing, and you are one hot designing woman!!

  2. A Gift Wrapped Life April 7, 2009 | 2:15 am

    It’s a great experience for any designer to go through photo shoots, especially in their own enviroment, exhausting usually. But it can go from exhausting to exhilarating (and so rewarding) when the photographer is willing to share so much with you. Your new home looks fabulous and you both did a fabulous job! the pale blue is so divine.

  3. Habitually Chic April 7, 2009 | 2:15 am

    Christina/Maison21 – Awwww! Thank you! You are too sweet!

  4. EvY April 7, 2009 | 2:55 am

    That bedroom is beaUTIFUL. The color on the walls is soothing and just right. Well done.

  5. Ivy Lane April 7, 2009 | 2:57 am

    thank you for educating us on the process of the shoot.
    The “bachelor pad” looks amazing! You are certainly one stylish gal!

  6. Allison aka HaselBride April 7, 2009 | 3:14 am

    The bachelor pad turned out absolutely fabulous. Love the behind-the-scenes insight! It really helps to see all that goes into an interiors photo shoot–I had no idea it was as hardcore as a fashion shoot. 🙂

  7. SGM April 7, 2009 | 3:20 am

    Wow, Heather! I still loooove the bachelor pad and these photos are gorgeous. SO impressive.

  8. Laurie Reynolds April 7, 2009 | 3:29 am

    wow these look fantastic!! i’m so happy that the photos turned out just as beautiful as i thought they would! great job heather and i love the shot of you too!!

  9. Olivia April 7, 2009 | 4:08 am

    The bachelor pad, along with the professional photos you had taken, turned out just beautifully — a wonderful representation of your immense talents! Do these photos mean a website is in the works? : )

  10. coco+kelley April 7, 2009 | 4:53 am

    aren’t photo shoots interesting? i learned a long time ago about the power of the vignette – ever since then it’s been so hard for me to shoot my own photos for the blog – you want to capture the whole room, but the closeups are what sell it. such an interesting and great post … and the rooms are, of course, fabulous!!! (my fave is the city skyline detail through the curtains – such a subtle little thing…)

  11. twin2trip April 7, 2009 | 6:02 am

    Ok so really and truly your project turned out beautifully. What great photos to add to your portfolio.

    I’d hire you!

  12. Suzy April 7, 2009 | 9:26 am

    Heather, the apattment – and you – are looking fantastic! Well done!

  13. pve design April 7, 2009 | 9:50 am

    Fabulously chic photos and I love the photo shoot tips.
    I really want to put a needlepoint pillow in that entry chair that reads – “So many women, so little time” or “One in every port” –
    Something silly, something for the bachelor pad.
    The bedroom looks like a serene spot to retreat to after a hard day.
    Stylist shot of you is lovely, (love) your blouse color looks like “bordeaux” – nice feminine touch to the bachelor pad.

  14. Maryam in Marrakesh April 7, 2009 | 9:51 am

    So lovely and serene. And super great styling tips:)

    PS Very fun to see *you*

  15. Carol Ann April 7, 2009 | 10:24 am

    Thank you for sharing the photo shoot as well as the pictures…your work is amazing, great rooms. I loved that he took a picture of you too (great picture), you can use it in your book inside the dust cover…everyone should write a book and share there ideas with the world. CAM
    PS love your blog! thanks again

  16. Anonymous April 7, 2009 | 11:40 am

    Gorgeous! The final project turned out looking amazing, Heather. Applause all around. And thanks for letting us have a little insight into the process.

  17. Blushing hostess April 7, 2009 | 12:40 pm

    That first shot is gorgeous. Loving the serene masculinity there.

  18. Linda/"Mom" April 7, 2009 | 1:10 pm

    * CONGRATS on the terriffic job you did here! I agreed to having “just a few shots” (that’s what he SAID!) of our new home taken for an architect’s magazine, and I was amaaaazed at the amount of TIME it took~~~ and fascinated by all of the intricacies & the amount of people involved!!! This was a DELIGHTFUL read & reminded me once again how MUCH work goes INTO presenting spaces! Many thanks! Linda *

  19. Anonymous April 7, 2009 | 1:11 pm

    It looks great. Congrats!

    What a great, great post.

    Your photographer’s insights were especially interesting. He’s really talented but also good at articulating all the choices that go behind his artistic decisions. Wow.

  20. Leslie Rowlands April 7, 2009 | 1:11 pm

    Great apartment. I am sure the bachelor feels at home. Also, great information on the photo shooting itself.
    lamaisonfou blog

  21. ArchitectDesign April 7, 2009 | 1:15 pm

    Heather, it looks just wonderful! I love how you have it styled and how your client’s personality still comes through! You look great in your portrait, LOVE the foxy shoes!

  22. Dobbygirl April 7, 2009 | 1:44 pm

    Wow, what an amazing job! It looks fantastic! You should be very proud!!!


  23. Pigtown-Design April 7, 2009 | 1:55 pm

    It looks fabulous!

  24. Anonymous April 7, 2009 | 2:07 pm

    the apartment looks amazing!

  25. Alice Olive April 7, 2009 | 2:24 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful! You have such a great eye. The apartment looks wonderful and I truly appreciate all the details in how you and Jonathan shot it. Another favourite post on one of my favourite blogs!

  26. eric cahan April 7, 2009 | 2:25 pm

    Awwesome. Ragle did a fantasic job with the photography as the place looks great.

  27. Jennifer April 7, 2009 | 3:11 pm

    beautiful job, and it is amazing how the right photos can really show it off.

    btw- where did you get the bookshelves?

  28. Rebecca@Harmony and Home April 7, 2009 | 3:19 pm

    Thanks for the tips on how to shoot a room vignette! You are lucky to have had such a knowledgable photographer tell you his secrets!

  29. Cherish April 7, 2009 | 3:28 pm

    Heather, the bachelor pad looks absolutely breathtaking. Congratulations on a job well done – the addition of these photos to your portfolio will guarantee you many more jobs in the future!! Your portrait photo also turned out very well!! You look beautiful.
    Love it, love it, love it!!

  30. mary April 7, 2009 | 4:09 pm

    I think that there is nothing left for me to say! It is fantastic: love the colors and the art and the peacefulness!!!!!

  31. Porter Design Company April 7, 2009 | 4:16 pm

    Well done! I love the bedroom….very soothing. Thanks for sharing!

  32. red ticking April 7, 2009 | 4:29 pm

    i love this post… you look great and so does your project!i learned alot of that myself having a great friend as a photographer it is sooo interesting how we can see something and think it is great but the camera see’s it so differently. such an amazing process..thank you for sharing…congratulations!

  33. Anonymous April 7, 2009 | 5:22 pm

    Do you know where the ebonized grid bookcases came from? Thanks very much.

  34. Stina April 7, 2009 | 5:23 pm

    Hi Heather,
    Have been reading your blog for a while, and first off, congrats, the apartment looks great.
    Secondly, I wanted to ask you where the office chair came from. I am looking for one for my husband, and his office is in the living room = in plain view…any thoughts where to look?

  35. layersofmeaning April 7, 2009 | 5:42 pm

    Absolutely fabulous!
    You have done an amazing job.

  36. Habitually Chic April 7, 2009 | 5:58 pm

    I want to thank everyone for the lovely comments! I appreciate all your support and encouragement.

    To answer some of the questions, the office/living room bookcase is the Expedit Bookcase from Ikea. It looks good and it’s well made. You just need a lot of room to put it together! http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40047675

    The office chair is the Eames Soft Pad Management Chair. You can find a lot of nice desk chairs from Herman Miller and at Design within Reach.

    A big thank you again to Laurie Reynolds for helping me style, Kelly Reynolds for helping me pack up and Eric Cahan for recommending Jonathan Ragle!

  37. Ms. Wis./Each Little World April 7, 2009 | 6:35 pm

    You did such a superb job on this project. It’s been fun and inspirational to watch. And now all the photo tips — thanks for sharing the process with us.

  38. Musette April 7, 2009 | 6:47 pm


    The apartment looks beautiful, you look beautiful – everything and everybody looks just great all around!

    I spent a bazillion years in home-goods advertising, making the mundane look glorious; am out of that business now but still love the look – it drives my DH insane, as I constantly work to replicate that life now in our home (yes, I can often be found with an iron in my hand, leaning over the sheets!LOL! My friends think I’m nuts but they LOVE how my bedrooms look – hmmmm….)

    Congratulations on an excellent project brought to fruition and a wonderful blog. I so enjoy reading it!

  39. B Co. April 7, 2009 | 7:11 pm

    I’m always attracted to those small vignette photos in magazines and blogs (I have a whole section in my photo library for them:)) Thanks for the tips…I’m sure my next photo shoot will greatly benefit!

  40. Ursula April 7, 2009 | 9:13 pm

    That was fascinating with lots of great insight. I’ll be rethinking the way I take photos.

  41. Lolita April 7, 2009 | 9:37 pm

    Thanks for a ‘meaty’ post. Love your bachelor pad fitout. Lolita

  42. Sara April 7, 2009 | 10:22 pm

    What a fabulous pad! That’s definitely one lucky bachelor. I love your work and your blog is definitely inspirational. If possible, I’m totally curious where the lamp in the very first picture came from?

  43. CashmereLibrarian April 7, 2009 | 11:08 pm

    This is so interesting! Thank you for such an honest and informative post!

  44. katiedid April 8, 2009 | 12:11 am

    Congrats Heather! It is always so satisfying to chronicle a job well done. I am in the process of doing the same, and I think I am my own worst critic! LOVE the entry wall especially!!!

  45. Vitania April 8, 2009 | 1:45 am

    Great Post. honest and informative.
    GReat Tips for me amd my camera..


  46. melanie April 8, 2009 | 3:19 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever left you a comment although I have read and enjoyed your blog for months. I loved this blog. I will never look at a photo shoot the same again. Thank you for sharing the ‘back of the house’ info and for always giving credit where it is due.

  47. Helen Cox April 8, 2009 | 8:40 am

    I just love the no frills, no fuss approach of this design. Everything looks stylish but it’s not over stated which makes it so chic. Thank you for sharing!

  48. bluehydrangea April 8, 2009 | 12:16 pm

    Wow! He is one lucky bachelor to get to live in that beautiful apartment.

  49. Jill April 8, 2009 | 12:59 pm

    This is one hot bachelor pad! Great, informative post. A good photographer makes all the difference.

  50. CB April 8, 2009 | 2:21 pm

    Dear Ms Chic,

    Thanks for sharing these — can I just say how much I LOVE the console table in entry and the bedside tables? Also, is it possible that I am getting 70’s fever?

    Happy Spring and run up to your (our) birthday!

  51. Sujetti April 8, 2009 | 2:48 pm

    The “Bachelor Pad” is beautiful. Congratulations on a splendid job! You have created an atmosphere that is effortlessly chic. Now please tell me who has designed that gorgeous sofa?

  52. Dabney April 8, 2009 | 3:24 pm

    The apartment looks awesome. Very nice work, very professional. It’s just beautiful. And it’s obvious how much thought went into every creative decision.

  53. Habitually Chic April 8, 2009 | 3:28 pm

    Thanks again to everyone for their great comments!

    There is definitely 70’s vibe! The sofa is vintage C&B Italia (before the became B&B Italia) from 1973 and the coffee table is Italian and also from the 70’s. These were given to the bachelor by his very chic step mother. The entry console is also vintage and I’m not sure of the exact date but it could be from the 70’s as well.

  54. Magchunk April 8, 2009 | 5:57 pm

    The bachelor pad is gorgeous! Thanks for taking us along this journey with you! I’m definately inspired to make some changes to my own apartment!

  55. Anonymous April 8, 2009 | 11:57 pm

    So beautiful!! You are such an inspiration to me! I have two children and it is really hard to fulfill my interior dreams but somehow, I look at your blog and I realize it doesn’t matter! What am I waiting for! I have already started working on my bathroom to make it beautiful for ME…and you are the inspiration! Thank You!

  56. Chelly April 9, 2009 | 8:03 pm

    wow! The pics look fab and hearing all that goes into a shoot all I can say is wow again!

  57. Frances Herrera April 9, 2009 | 9:39 pm

    Hi HC,

    I love this space! I’m a decorator myself and was so fascinated by how the space turned out, I’ts so gorgeous and classic. Well done!

    PS. I’m an avid reader of your site and a big fan.


  58. Diva Style April 9, 2009 | 11:58 pm

    Fabulous interior! Kudos to you!

  59. Pieces April 20, 2009 | 3:29 pm

    Love seeing the nightstands. What a fantastic space. You did a wonderful job. Honored that you included some of our pieces. Best, Lee Kleinhelter

  60. SK April 28, 2009 | 5:03 pm

    this post has definitely been given a star on my google reader!! i love the photos of you at work!

  61. thebubbreport January 6, 2010 | 6:34 pm

    Obviously, I am late to this party, but I was just lamenting how bad I am at interior photography over at Houzz and someone directed me over here. I love this post! Even though I admire and follow the work of a lot of interior stylists, I don’t think I’ve ever read about everything that goes into styling and photographing a space like this before. Thanks!

  62. designerkati September 17, 2012 | 9:16 pm

    A little late, but planning for some upcoming shoots and found this so helpful. If only people understood all of the hard work it takes! Beautiful project!