The end of this week begins the Spring High Point furniture market. It is a wild time full of showroom visits, “sit testing” of furniture, seeing new trends and reconnecting with designer friends from all over the country. It is one of my favorite weeks of the year even though I come home completely exhausted. One thing that all designers will be doing is taking hundreds of photos. I had originally written this post two years ago. I have since updated it and thought it might be helpful to once again share my five tips to get the best photos at High Point Market.
#1. Photograph the vendor’s signage before you walk into the showroom.
This does not have to be anything other than a super quick shot showing the vendor’s name. It took me a few visits to market before I figured out this easy trick. Before I step into a showroom I look for the signage and take a quick shot. Once I get home I know that every image following the signage shot was taken in that showroom. I do this for each and every showroom I enter and it makes it so much easier to keep all the hundreds of images I take clearly identified by showroom.
#2 Hold the camera correctly
It is a very common mistake that I see all the time. Designers hold their camera or cell phone up high by their face, frame the photo, then tilt the camera slightly downward toward the subject and shoot. Tilting the camera down causes a distorted view and the subject appears wider at the top than at the bottom.
In the above image I held my cell phone up by my face and then tilted it down to take the photo. See how the lines in the image converge inward in the lower part of the image? The distortion can always be corrected with an editing app but you won’t need it if you hold the camera level with the subject.
Now here is the same shot (unedited) with my cell phone camera held lower and level to the subject. Very little distortion.
So the important lesson when photographing furniture is to be sure the camera is level and not tilting either upward or downward. Your cell phone or DSLR should be on the same level as the subject you are photographing. This may mean bending down or kneeling on the floor but it will result in a less distorted photo.
One other thing to be aware of is that with cell phone cameras, the closer you are to the subject the higher the distortion. If possible stand back as far as possible and then crop in tighter later if needed.
#3 For the best photos visit your favorite showrooms early morning or just before closing
Once back from Market, I write blog posts and also and a trend report for a local home magazine. It is really important that I get good quality images without people in them. That is easier said than done as the showrooms are usually packed with people. Getting a good shot without someone either directly in the shot or in the background is challenging. One trick I have found is that early morning (right at opening) or later in the day (a few minutes before closing) is when the least amount of people will be in your way. I have my favorite showrooms that I know will have lot’s of great photos for social media. I now plan my day so that I am there as early or as late in the day as possible. Then I can quickly buzz through and get all my shots and be on my way.
If you do find yourself in a packed showroom then I have found most people are more than willing to give you a few seconds or so to get your shot. Be gracious and thank them for holding back for a bit and not walking into your photo.
#4 Give some thought to your photos before you arrive at market.
Before I head down to Market I plan out a few future blog posts. I know I’ll write a post on color and trends. I also might do a round up of my ten favorite new discoveries at market. If I have a few blog ideas in my head then I will be sure to take photos to use for those posts. Nothing is worse then deciding to do a blog post on trends in accessories and discovering after the fact that you only have one or two accessory shots.
#5 Taking a better group photo
Besides all the beautiful showroom vignettes and products to get photos of there is the obligatory group photo with friends. Many of us meet up randomly in a show room, the hallway or at one of the hundreds of parties at market. The first thing that usually happens is the phones come out and the meet up is documented. No time to chat as we are all on a deadline and a mission. The quick selfies are proof that we actually did see one another. My tip for these photos is before you shoot, look at everyone’s faces. Is there a spot light shining down on their heads casting black raccoon shadows under everyone’s eyes? Is there an exit sigh lite up in the back ground appearing to be sitting on someone’s head? It takes just seconds to move everyone a little to the left or right to get a better photo. If the light is really bad then sometimes just turning everyone completely around to face the opposite direction can make a difference between a bad photo and a good photo.
I hope these tips are helpful and if we meet up at Market let’s be sure to get a photo!