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In Search of the Perfect Photo Backdrop, These Designers Turned to Their Own Homes | Architectural Digest

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For those shooting smaller products, like hand towels or dinnerware, finding the right setting and moving samples likely doesn’t present as much of a challenge as it does for designers working with large pieces of furniture. But there are still important considerations to take—like scouting backdrops.

Ellen Van Dusen, of textile and home goods brand Dusen Dusen, incorporated her pattern-filled home into shoots before the pandemic required it.

Even before the pandemic, Ellen Van Dusen’s lively home, seen here, was a fixture in her product photography.

Photo courtesy Dusen Dusen

“I like our images to look real, lived-in, and reflect our personalities. This is a lot easier to do at home instead of in a studio,” she says. “I tend to create textiles and objects that I want to live with, so naturally they pair with my home’s aesthetic. Plus, I like to include all those little tchotchkes and accessories in the photos. I think it helps to tell the story.”

Van Dusen pulls from her own collection of books, artwork, furniture, and flatware to showcase vignettes of different styles. These items are interspersed with Dusen Dusen products for the shoot: “I think it’s important to show products in multiple spaces, because I think our stuff is for all different kinds of people and settings, not just people who are like me.”

Alex Tieghi-Walker of Tiwa Select has a similar ethos. “I’ve always opted to have a home gallery rather than a separate, purely commercial space because I like people to see the objects in use in a domestic environment,” he explains. “In terms of simple product shots, I choose a neutral background and allow the colors and the texture of the works to speak for itself…I shoot some basic product shots myself and it’s very, very informal.” And often, he adds, very straightforward: “I’ll shoot on a wooden stool against a wall in my study.”

The lighting is important for all designers and brands. Barratt-Campbell used a full lighting kit including white screens, foil reflective discs, and freestanding lighting. A basic kit can be rented for around $250 per day.

Others opted to accentuate the natural lighting.

Golden hour light and a photo-ready wood floor play coconspirators in the home of Alex Tieghi-Walker of Tiwa Select.

Photo: Lenard Smith

“[The photographer] came to shoot pieces at my house using the striking, late afternoon light, which made that series of images feel very Los Angeles-y, and also showcased the home and the space itself really nicely,” says Tieghi-Walker. From there, images can be tweaked, using editing software, to get a publication-ready look.

A Tiwa Select textile shot at Tieghi-Walker’s home.

Photo: Ryan Lowry

As the co-owner of paint company Backdrop, Natalie Ebel has the added challenge of accurately capturing the color in a non-studio setting when she shoots her products at home. After painting the walls of her own house, she used natural light and multiple photos on her iPhone to get the right shot.

“Something that was so important to me is that we showed real color photography [rather than] rendered rooms, because anyone can Photoshop. But I think the true testament is showing real color and real spaces,” she says. “For us, that means less perfectly styled interiors and images of actual spaces that celebrate the process of painting…I think there’s something really special about the imperfection of an iPhone photo.”

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