Style and Substance

The nice thing about houses is they don't move and they don't shy away from a little overexposure. So when I got the assignment to photograph the Decorators' Show House in Upper Arlington I new it would be interesting.

Over 15 years as a photojournalist I've shot my share of houses. First starting outA house not in shape to be photographed with an overgrown front yard. I photographed houses for a weekly ad given to local realtors by the weekly newspaper. It was usually either an easy assignment or a hard assignment. I cannot count the amount of times I've rolled up to a house to photograph and discovered it wasn't in shape to be photographed. The lawn was unkempt or there were trees limbs and other items strewn every where that had be picked up or moved before a photo could be taken. I once drove up to a house with laundry hanging on the front porch and no one home, and another to a house just starting to break ground on construction. It is sort of hard to show off a house when you cannot see it.

Looking at it as a glass half full, I usually only had to get two or three photographs that fit a specific size and the issues always helped me challenge myself to find a new way to hide a blemish or new angle to photograph from. Sometimes the realtor or home owner would be there so I could photograph the inside of the house.

For this assignment, I knew I was walking into a house ready to be the centerfold. I just had to find ways to show off the rooms and the decorators' work as best as possible. I only had a limited amount of time and I wasn't taking photographs for a decorator's magazine where each rooms gets an hour of detailed attention and lighting. At most I spent 5 minutes in a room before moving on to the next, and I worked with the lighting presented to me or added a bit with a flash to help me out.

 
It is difficult sometimes presenting a decorator's work into images because the a photograph looks differently than actually being in a space and absorbing the nuances in person. When you walk into a room you are hit by a wide view, smells, colors and textures that don't always translate easily into a photograph. The eye is also much more forgiving with color temperatures of light as well as high contrast changes in a scene than film or a digital camera, but those differences can be used to advantage. 
 
The objective is to find an interesting angle to show some of what I believe is the decorator's intent or to show off as much of the things I find interesting about a room. For the most part it was easy with this house. I had a bit of difficulty with a hallway that was decorated but not because of the decorator. The electric lights were being fixed in the hallway and weren't working at the time that I took the photos. So I used a bit of improve lighting while working with a bit of natural lighting coming from a window. Some of the rooms were still works in progress since there was over a week left till it was being opened to the public for viewing. 
 
The Decorators' Show House at 4125 Oxford Drive in Upper Arlington, Ohio will be open April 30 to May 22. For ticket prices and hours check out ColumbusDecoratorsShowHouse.com and a story about it at ThisWeek News

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