5 Tips on Becoming the Perfect Photoshoot Team Player…

You may recall how McKenzie Design was recently featured on the cover of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME… But, what you may not know is all of the work behind the scenes to make the photoshoot of this design such a success.

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It takes a team of people planning, prepping and executing the plan for a fantastic photoshoot – and, in turn, a wonderful feature – and we were so lucky to have been on a team with photographers, Anthony-Masterson, and Editor-in-Chief, Betsy Riley.

Working as a team on a photoshoot is a necessity – it’s a collaborative project and everyone involved needs to come together to create a unified vision and provide the best editorial possible for the reader. To do this, the editor will keep their reader in mind and work to craft the message they want to share, specifically for them. The photographer knows what will translate well from a photography standpoint. And, finally, the designer knows what they worked to achieve for their client. It’s all about trusting the other parties and bringing these three visions together.

On shoot with Anthony Masterson and Atlanta Magazine's HOME.
On shoot with Anthony Masterson and Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

Thanks to Steve’s many years working as Creative Director and then CEO of Berkshire Hathaway company, Larson-Juhl, he’s got a great deal of experience under his belt, both in working on various photoshoots and directly with the media. Needless to say, he was a wealth of expertise when it came to prepping for our big photoshoot for Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

Because of Steve’s and Anthony-Masterson’s shared histories shooting spaces for publication, we thought we could share some top tips, with our design industry friends, on being an awesome player on any photoshoot team – all in hopes your project makes it to print! Here’s what we have to offer…

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  1. Be prepared. For anything. This may sound a bit vague, but anything can happen on a photoshoot. You’ll arrive on site with a plan – or at least an idea – of what will happen throughout the shoot and inevitably things change. Prep your photoshoot site as best you can and ensure it’s in tip top shape for when the editor and photographer arrive. 02-master-amp_0043
  2. Consider your design from all different angles. You may have created a design with a specific functionality in mind. But, when you’re in the midst of a photoshoot, things change. Furnishings may be readjusted so they’re captured in the best lighting. Even if you don’t think a corner of a room will be photographed, be sure it’s designed and photo-ready, just in case. 10-dining-amp_0138
  3. Bring extra accessories. Repeat after us – you can never have too many accessories. We love a great vignette shot. Secret to those amazing shots? Perfectly selected and positioned accessories. Bring additional accessories for each space being photographed. Perhaps the editor will want to try a different selection of pillows on a setee or make it appear as if a cocktail party is in progress on the bar. You’ll need to think ahead and have your stock of accessories to pull out should the need arise.05-living-amp_0090
  4. Stay out of the way. This is a tough one. The spaces being photographed have been your baby and it’ll be difficult to give up control. But, you must trust in the photographer and editor to capture and highlight those
    spaces in the best possible light. That’s their job, and with you supporting from the sidelines, it’ll be a success. 08-dining-amp_0126
  5. Offer advice. This may seem contradictory to tip #4, but when called upon, you’ll need to provide guidance, share inspiration and suggest solutions if any issues arise. It’s a difficult balance, but once you’ve been through a shoot or two, you’ll become a pro!

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*Bonus tip from Steve and Jill – Keep your favorite shops and accessory/textile destinations on speed dial during the shoot. You never know when the perfect item may just be down the road! Lucky for Steve, he was on shoot and Jill was back at the showroom… Blue hued pillows for the kitchen banquette were needed. So, she gathered up all they had and they were brought to the home where the photoshoot was in progress. A selection was made and the kitchen shot was a winner!

Steve's bedroom design made the cover!
Steve’s bedroom design made the cover!

So, there you have it. Our advice on becoming a photoshoot savant and a little behind the scenes of our photoshoot with Atlanta Magazine’s HOME. It was such a fun experience and now we’re ready to tackle the next shoot – and whatever it may bring!

Keep an eye out for a feature post here, on the blog for steve mckenzie’s, where Steve will share more about the clients and the space he designed for them.

A Sensational Summit with The Southern Coterie

Steve and Jill attended and presented at The Southern Summit, hosted by the folks over at The Southern Coterie, last month in Charleston – and it was an absolute delight!

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A highlight for them was the luncheon workshop they hosted, in conjunction with Atlanta Magazine: Home editor-in-chief Betsy Riley, where they shared with guests the basics one needs to effortlessly achieve gracious living and how to tailor seasonal tablescapes without breaking the bank.

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During this workshop, Steve and Jill offered participates a list of items that should always be on hand to create a warm, memorable design for their tabletops. This way, they’d be ready to host with only a moment’s notice.

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Grocery store flowers were taken from “meh” to magnificant during the workshop, in a centerpiece makeover, which guests really seamed to enjoy.

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Four tablescapes were designed for the presentation, one for each season. The summer table setting closed out the luncheon gathering, and wase used as inspiration for the next day’s luncheon for all 325 summit attendees.

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Together, Steve and Jill designed all of the tables for the summit’s feature luncheon, which took place at the beautiful, historic William Aiken House.

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But, as you know it takes a village to achieve such stunning results and a number of vendors came together to make the luncheon space so lovely. They include, Vietri dinnerware, Dot and Army linens, Royal Crown Derby fine china, Le Jacquard Francais table linens, Sasha Nicholas dinnerware, and The Vine, who provided an array of glorious succulents for the centerpieces.

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The Southern Coterie is an impressive gathering of Southern entrepreneurs and tastemakers, and we were elated to have been in such esteemed company at The Southern Summit! Some of the other presenters were Eddie Ross, Libbie Summers, Mandy Kellog Rye, Kristy Tiglias of Southern Living, Brian Hart Hoffman of Hoffman Media, Julianne Taylor and Holly Hollingsworth Phillips. Many on this list are friends of our ours, and some have even been tastemakers here, on the blog for steve mckenzie’s – such a fantastic group!!

Steve with Mandy Rye
Steve with Mandy Rye

Mandy Rye – of Waiting on Martha fame – presented on building your brand with social media (a personal highlight for Steve and Jill), and she will be doing an intensive social media seminar here in Atlanta. It’s very limited, and one day only (June 17), so sign up ASAP if you’re interested. steve mckenzie’s will be hosting a kickoff cocktail party the evening before Mandy’s seminar, so put it on your calendar… Details forthcoming.

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If this sounds like fun, that’s because it was! And next year, you should be a part of it! Thanks to all of our friends – new and old – who we enjoyed at The Southern Summit, and thanks to The Southern Coterie for inviting us to participate in this memorable event. We left feeling energized and inspired!

5 Reasons Your Interior Designs May NOT Be Published

We’re so thrilled to have the opportunity to share a guest blog post by our friend, and magazine editor, Lisa Mowry! Lisa is the genius behind more than 1,000 features for national and local magazines. Needless to say, she knows a bit about what it takes to have a space highlighted in a publication and why some stories just don’t make the cut.

photo by Christina Wedge
photo by Christina Wedge

Lisa Mowry has been a home and garden writer, editor and stylist for 25 years. She is the homes editor for Atlanta Magazine and Atlanta Magazine’s HOME, plus the regional editor for Better Homes & Gardens, Traditional Home and all their special interest magazines such as Country Home, Beautiful Kitchens & Baths, Décor, Elegant Homes and Country Gardens.

Without further ado, we give you Lisa’s take on 5 Reasons Your Interior Designs May NOT Be Published…

I get excited when I go to my inbox and see a designer’s name with the subject line, “New Project.” –I never know when the most amazing house will appear before me with all sorts of possibilities for one of my magazines. But sometimes the house in front of me may be beautiful—I may even wish I could move right in myself—yet it’s not a fit for the publications I work with. Here are a few reasons why:

1.It’s not unique enough. If a living room looks “showroom perfect,” that may be impressive to neighbors, but magazines need more depth and personal style. Just as in the world of fashion, often the best rooms have one unexpected element, or may include features both expensive and budget-friendly. Always a pleasure to see: original art, layers of visual interest, and good use of color. I see a lot of swanky white kitchens, for instance, (and included in that category are light gray and light beige) because we all love a light-and-bright place to eat and cook, but the magazines need to show ideas beyond white.

Interior designer Chenault James’s house for a Columbus, Georgia client hit a homerun with Traditional Home magazine, thanks to its classic lines with a few important twists: great architectural elements in the form of metal French doors and windows and the ceiling treatment, plus her clever mix of patterns while still maintaining a serene color palette. Professional photography by Emily Followill enhanced the project even more.
Interior designer Chenault James’s house for a Columbus, Georgia client hit a homerun with Traditional Home magazine, thanks to its classic lines with a few important twists: great architectural elements in the form of metal French doors and windows and the ceiling treatment, plus her clever mix of patterns while still maintaining a serene color palette. Professional photography by Emily Followill enhanced the project even more.

2.Your scouting photography doesn’t capture the space well. I depend on designers and architects to send me photos of their projects a lot of the time. Are professional photographs good to send? Yes, they can be helpful, but rarely tell the whole story. Magazine editors need more than one “money shot” of a room; we need to see all angles, vignettes and details, plus exteriors, and outdoor spaces. Good non-professional shots can be sufficient and are almost always needed to supplement professional photos. Don’t use a wide-angle lens and do turn off most lamps in a room so the lighting is more uniform. An artsy detail of a fern on a coffee table may be something you want for a blog post, but editors don’t need that sort of thing.

This master bedroom in a coastal cottage in Watercolor, Florida will be featured in Décor magazine. Rich pops of color and salvaged doors distinguish it from a typical beach-house look…nice work by Tim Adams. High ceilings don’t feel too large, thanks to the wood-plank walls and large-scale furnishings. Photography: Emily Followill
This master bedroom in a coastal cottage in Watercolor, Florida will be featured in Décor magazine. Rich pops of color and salvaged doors distinguish it from a typical beach-house look…nice work by Tim Adams. High ceilings don’t feel too large, thanks to the wood-plank walls and large-scale furnishings. Photography: Emily Followill

3.Your projects are too something: too big, too small, too low-end, too high-end. Cavernous two-story living rooms often don’t have a charm factor readers are looking for, and on the other end, the blogging world is filled with first homes having similar DIY looks.

Condos can be a harder sell for magazines because there often isn’t as much architectural charm, but interior designer Helen Davis’s own loft has the advantage of brick walls and an arched window, plus her own swanky furnishings: a colorful mix of vintage, repurposed and personal accessories. Atlanta Magazine has covered her place, and it will also appear in BH&G’s Refresh later this summer. Photography: Sarah Dorio
Condos can be a harder sell for magazines because there often isn’t as much architectural charm, but interior designer Helen Davis’s own loft has the advantage of brick walls and an arched window, plus her own swanky furnishings: a colorful mix of vintage, repurposed and personal accessories. Atlanta Magazine has covered her place, and it will also appear in BH&G’s Refresh later this summer. Photography: Sarah Dorio

4.There’s not enough to show. I can’t do much with one room, and designers often send me just the living room or dining room. Occasionally a unique room might work for a magazine (We have a regular feature in Atlanta Magazine called “Room Envy,” for instance), and some spaces such as kitchens or porches can warrant a whole feature, but in general, know that your chances to get published are limited with only one area.

Designer Sherry Hart took this scouting photo of a Buckhead project herself, but put the time into styling and getting the lighting right to accent this Zen-like bathroom. The bathroom itself combines textures and materials in a fresh way, and it will be featured in the fall issue of BH&G’s Kitchen & Bath Ideas.
Designer Sherry Hart took this scouting photo of a Buckhead project herself, but put the time into styling and getting the lighting right to accent this Zen-like bathroom. The bathroom itself combines textures and materials in a fresh way, and it will be featured in the fall issue of BH&G’s Kitchen & Bath Ideas.

5. Your project is over-exposed. Be careful not to let every blog around publish your best work; editors tend to shy away from homes where those good ideas have already been shown. That brings up some Magazine 101 refreshers: Don’t submit a project to more than one magazine at a time, and don’t always have your work in the same magazine. Once you get a reputation as a regular contributor to one publication, it can hurt your chances with others.

Wow! This is some fantastic – and super interesting info – for both designers and interior design appreciators alike… It’s amazing all that goes into the production of some of these beautiful home features!

A giant thank you to Lisa Mowry for taking the time to author this wonderful guest blog post and for sharing some of her behind-the-scenes tidbits on working with some of our favorite shelter publications!