After Eights? I’ll eat the whole box. After eight on a Sunday night? A demoralizing time to look up bathroom photography tips. I dread the photo part of blogging – it looks great in real life, and yet I’m never satisfied with my photos. Darren Rowse, help!
I spent 6 hours preparing the bathroom “after” photos. Yep, six hours. (An hour to research tips and suggestions, an hour to clean and “stage” it, an hour to take photos every which way, two hours tweaking them in Photoshop *which I also don’t really know how to do*, and an hour to make the blog post). I wouldn’t do it again, but considered it an education. Feel my pain?
Step 1: Research. I’d just read Seven Steps to Sold which has a few staging tips: CLEAN and CLEAN AGAIN. I broke out the Bar Keeper’s Friend and scrubbed! To get over “staging guilt”, I checked out the hoopla of house magazine photoshoots. No one has 15 lemons in their kitchen.
Step 2: Hunting specifics. Young House Love has sneaky staging tips – like folding a dish towel within bath towels to fluff them out. Paolo laughed in my face the whole while – but you understand, don’t you?
Step 3: Initiating the con – specific deception. Taking these tips – I pulled everything out of the bathroom (dumped it on the floor in the hallway), CLEANED some more, and started with a blank canvas. Groland got a proper hiding – you could’ve performed open-heart surgery on that bathroom counter.
I didn’t want you to notice that we have no art on the walls – so distracted with plants. Sherry YHL said “CANDLES!” so I did as told.
The lily was floppy and uncooperative, so I tied it to a left-over kebab stick, with a twist-tie stolen from the speaker wires. The mint came straight out of the fridge – there’s no water in that there vase.
If all of this seems like a huge con – how much effort goes into the deception of a magazine spread? We swallow similar packs of lies on a daily basis and we like it because it’s prettier. It took me 6 hours to be happy with my stupid bathroom photos. Amateur Hour (and hour and hour and hour and hour and hour…) indeed.
Pretty doesn’t come quickly at the Ugly Baby.
Once it was set up, it was time for the photo part. Oh god….
Step 4: Um, how to take good bathroom photos? I can handle “push the button” and “turn on all the lights” but F-Stops and flash guns are a foreign language. Google results gave me Photobird’s page on photographing interiors, which is at my level, while this one specific to photographing bathrooms is more advanced. A root around Digital Photography School revealed these impressive bathroom photos - more artistic than I needed. Young House Love (again) was helpful and reiterated to focus on details.
Step 5: Learning by example. I looked at others’ renovated bathroom photos – ones so good I remembered them without needing to Google. This meant going straight to Liz’s bathroom, as well as the (ubiquitous) YHL bathroom. Immediate realization – a mixture of wide-angle shots and close-ups. Noted!
Step 6: Learn by doing? In the end I tried out 2 different cameras – neither of which I particularly know how to use – and took about 100 photos.
This involved all sorts of bending, as well as front-teeth-endangering – standing on tip toes on the rim of the bath tub. Two family members have lost both their front teeth (since repaired)… “Things come in threes” did occur to me.
From the pros: I’d emailed two pro photographers - a friend and a former classmate – could they recommend a good book or website to start learning about photographing interiors and/or details? Answers:
- “Wide-angle and tripod!”
- “Play around and see what works”
- This oldie+goodie post from Darren popped into mind: I’ll learn more than I realize just by messing around & taking the time.
(The proof? Three months later, looking at these very mediocre photos, I can tell I’ve made progress).
Committing to computers. Once I put my photos on the computer… they looked totally crap. As Hour 5 dawned, I sucked it up and bought Photoshop Elements. We’re in love. More on that later (involving a magical recipe called “white balance!”)
Truth from fiction? Thanks to my bathroom post – we ended up with a better bathroom. Paolo kept going in there just to say “it looks SO good!” (Pretty much exactly what Mrs. Perfectly Imperfect says about home decoration: just take a few hours to see what looks good). While the flowers and the neat baskets, the candles and the plant were a big, fake show… they’ve all stayed since. Messing around with microscopic details for 6 hours is something I’ve never done before (“patience” = problematic), but I’d have never otherwise realized how nice the bathroom could look. A weird reversal – a blog influencing real life.
P.S. Clever tip for a no-windows bathroom: I liked having a plant in the bathroom – but we can’t have them croaking like Kim Jong-Il. Instead, I just rotate our dozen or so houseplants – changing it every day. It doesn’t seem to bother them to miss a day of light every few weeks. And if they can’t hack it, they shouldn’t have signed up to life around here. Don’t they know what happened to their weaker house-plant predecessors?
So that’s my tip for you. Care to share something clever with me?Hey, you want a s'more? Some more of what?