Better Homes & Gardens photoshoot

Hey–it’s Doug…fresh from a crazy couple of days at my house.  In late September, we received word that Better Homes & Gardens wanted to shoot my own personal home.  In the meantime I’ve gone on vacation to my parents’ farm in Illinois and opened our Mountain Brook store but Monday, my iPhone calendar announced it was officially time for the photoshoot to begin!  After a weekend of SERIOUS cleaning (oh, and nevermind Thanksgiving too!) I had the house ready to go.

Our friend Lynn Nesmith arranged this shoot for us, and she served as the field editor and one of the stylists for the shoot.  Monday afternoon, in the midst of a torrential downpour, Lynn arrived and we met at my house to begin going over the shoot.  Shortly thereafter, we were joined by Jessica Thomas, a freelance stylist who works frequently with Better Homes & Gardens.  Together we walked through my house and made a list of things that needed to be done in preparation of the shoot, which was scheduled for Wednesday.

I had already brought in a few things to freshen up my house and to add some color–even though I live in a very neutral white/grey/linen house, and I love it that way!–more colorful accents often photograph better for publication; so I was glad to add some pillows, throws and accessories from our new Mountain Brook shop to liven things up for the camera.  Paige had also UPS’d me a few things from our Rosemary Beach shop, so I was fully armed from the Tracery arsenal and ready to go!

Lynn and Jessica spent all day Tuesday gathering flowers, additional accessories and even shrubbery to get things in tip-top shape for Wednesdays’ shoot.  When I arrive home from the shop on Tuesday night, this is what I found in my kitchen–

Flowers and stuff everywhere! Hannon and I had already loaded up  several things from the shop that Lynn and Jessica had come in and scouted out earlier in the day so between what I’d brought in and what Lynn and Jessica had picked up earlier in the day, my tiny little house was packed to the gills!
Lynn had warned me a few weeks ago that the magazine would probably run the story in the spring or summer of 2011 and as a result wanted it to be pretty ‘seasonal neutral’ in the styling, so since the nighttime temperatures have started dropping  I’ve been sheltering the potted plants on my porch inside the house every night.  Tuesday night was no different, so while the cut flowers hung out in the kitchen, it was a potted plant scene in my living room!
Wednesday morning I was up bright and early (have your every vacuumed your whole house before 7am?!?) and at 8 Jessica, Lynn and Edmund Barr–the photographer for the shoot–all arrived at my house ready for a full day of work.
For those of you not familiar, when I say my house is small I mean it’s small–530 square feet to be exact!  Even when we’ve had 10,000 square foot houses we’ve designed photographed space has been an issue, but in this case it was a constant concern.  Luckily Tuesday’s rain had cleared by Wednesday and Edmund quickly began using my front yard as a staging area.
The sun moves around my house from front to back so Edmund started shooting in the kitchen.  To prove that the house really is small, Edmund had to put one of the legs of his camera tripod under my sink to get a shot of the eating area!
Things weren’t much better shooting into the kitchen from the hallway, to make that shot Edmund had to rig his tripod leg inside the storage cabinet built into the wall of the hallway.
As perfect as photoshoots look when they are printed in magazines, I’ve done enough of these to know that there’s always a mess just outside of the camera frame.  The shoot at my house was no different–check out the lunch mess on my coffee table, which had been relocated up against the console below my tv.  The bottle of Dewar’s was not part of lunch, but had been relocated during the shoot of my bar cabinet!
When it came time to shoot the detail shot of the tv console, the antique dining chair that sits beside it had to be relocated outside to the lawn for a while!
One of the coolest parts of a photoshoot is that all major photographers shoot digitally these days–so you get to see the shots as they happen!  Here’s Richard and Jessica checking out some shots of my living room–
Better Homes & Gardens requested a photo of me to accompany the piece…here’s my doing my best to ‘act natural’ while being photographed in the living room.  Thanks to Lynn for snapping this lovely photo with my iPhone while I was busy trying to smile at a camera that was perched outside on my front porch looking in!
We ended the day outside, in 40ish degree temperatures, taking shots of the front of my house, which were intended to look like summertime!  Lynn did an incredible job stuffing pansies and boxwoods (which Hannon went and picked up in her big car for us!) in the dead leaves and dirt in front of the house…I can’t show you the final results until the magazine comes out but believe me, it’s really impressive how ‘summery’ things ended up looking!  Here’s Lynn, Richard and Jessica taking in the scene–
I can’t wait for all of you to see the photos–they look amazing!  The issue should be out sometime late in the spring or early summer of 2011–and you know we’ll keep you posted when we know something more specific.  Thank you so much to Lynn, Jessica and Richard for such a great two days, it was fun!  Thanks also to my amazing helpers here in Mountain Brook–Hannon ran lots of errands to help get ready for the shoot and Megan took good care of the shop while I was out.  Just like everything at Tracery, this was a group effort so thanks to everyone at the Rosemary Beach studio/shop too for shipping things up here to help us get ready for the shoot.  Have a great Thursday, everyone!
– Doug

24 thoughts on “Better Homes & Gardens photoshoot

  1. doug! I am super excited for you. you know Ima big fan of yours and I can’t wait to see your place. just seeing a glimpse of how you’ve layered the rugs in your living room was fun…

    dude. you rock.



  2. I would love to use this entire post in a link for a follow up to a post I did about having a “magazine home.” This makes the point so beautifully. There’s real life beauty, and there’s staged beauty. Somewhere in the middle is balance. Thank you guys again for so many delights.


  3. wow! thanks for sharing. how interesting to be behind the scenes for your photo shoot. i LOVE that there were sandwiches and drinks and grocery bags just out of the view of the camera–it really does make things more “real”. and it was so intriguing to see how the photographers would have their tripod in cabinets just to get the perfect shot. WHO KNEW? not, me, that’s for sure! so interesting! thanks for sharing. looking forward to seeing the finished product.


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