Photographing Our Projects: A Recent Experience

By Chris Patrick, Allied Member ASID

As construction begins to wind down, the punch-list is reviewed and the finishing touches are added to a kitchen renovation in Chevy Chase, MD. It’s time for Wentworth, Inc to start planning to transform the space one last time. The homeowner may have moved in, and the construction may have wrapped up, but the work isn’t done. It’s time to photograph and document the completed project for our portfolio and publication.

The Benefit of Photo Shoots

At Wentworth, Inc we take pride in our projects at every step of the way; from the time it’s in the design studio to the last finishing touches by our lead carpenters. Each project challenges our design team to be more creative, and give our carpenters a chance for their skills to shine through. It’s because we are so invested and proud of our projects that we want to photograph each one. We aren’t just concerned about the projects that cost the most money, or used the best appliances, or had the best before and after shots. We want to show off our work; all of it, and give potential clients the ability to understand the amount of craftsmanship and detail that goes into each project.

Our pride and love for the projects we work on takes a backseat to the homeowner’s pride of living in, and helping design, a home that is award worthy. The photographs we take help facilitate our goal of entering our projects into local and national competitions and publications. With the Contractor of the Year: National Association of the Remodeling Industry Awards deadline around the corner, our marketing team has been busy pulling together our most recent projects to showcase. In many cases, we offer those same project photos up to publications such as The Washington Post, Home and Design, and Remodel (a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication) for consideration in upcoming articles. The sense of pride our homeowner’s feel when their home wins a national award or is featured in the newest issue of Home and Design is another important benefit of our photo shoots.

It is important to note that the benefit of these photo shoots for the client goes beyond pride. Aside from bragging rights with their friends, professional photos and awards make for great marketing material when a client plans to sell their home. We’ve often had real estate agents use the professional photographs we’ve taken, along with any awards or publications, in the promotional material for a sale. Potential buyers not only get a glimpse into the amazing interior (or exterior) shots of the home, but there is added value with a home that has been published or is award winning.

Choosing a Photographer

When we plan our photo shoots it is imperative that we have the right photographer for the job. For the kitchen remodel in Chevy Chase, we went with Ron Blunt. His experience as a professional photographer and the relationship we have developed with him over the years, make him a perfect candidate for this shoot. We trust his eye and aesthetic and value his skill in beautifully capturing our work. We trust our photographers to produce high quality and high impact photos that best represent the space.


Whenever possible, we try and photograph our projects shortly after they’ve been completed. We find that it’s less disruptive to our clients; they’re still used to having our team coming in and out of their home. Typically, there is less rearranging involved on our part to achieve the right design aesthetic if the client hasn’t fully moved in (in this case the client also welcomed some of our design ideas for furniture placement). The less time our clients have to live in the space before we photograph it, the less the new finishes are affected, and there is a better chance that everything will comes out looking brand new.

Our planning is not limited to picking the right photographer; the “behind the scenes” preparation starts a few weeks prior. After we’ve chosen which photographer we think would be best suited for the photo shoot, we begin to think about set-up, lighting, and staging. A few weeks before the kitchen remodel photo shoot, we stopped by the job site to take “pre-photo shoot photos.” This allows us to get an idea of what shots we want to accomplish with our photo shoots, what areas need to be stylized, and what existing client owned furniture and accessories we can work with. We print these photos out and look at them with the new floor plan to finalize the number of shots we want and the areas we want to highlight. A full day shoot is anywhere between 5-8 photos. After we reviewed the plans, it was agreed that we would need at least 6 shots to capture the space and highlight all the focal points. We wanted two shots of the kitchen, two shots of the family room, one shot of the laundry/mud room and one shot of the foyer.


Once we’ve established a direction to help guide the photo shoot, it becomes clear what areas need the most work. Since we wanted to highlight the custom built-ins in the family room of the Chevy Chase kitchen remodel, we needed to make sure that the area was staged well with books and decorative objects. We had decided that this photo shoot was going to have a less is more approach; we wanted less clutter and more pieces that made a statement. This was true in the kitchen as well; we kept the counters free of clutter and opted for a simple arrangement of avocados, dried pasta, oils, and greenery placed strategically around the kitchen.


After we’ve established a design direction and made a list of the objects that we needed it’s time to shop! We work with as many of the homeowner’s existing pieces as possible and we often bring in personal items from our own homes as well to stage the photos, but inevitably, we’ll need to shop for more accessories. And when it comes to shopping, more is more! To style a photo shoot correctly you must make sure that you have the right amount of accessories as well as the right pieces. Subtle things such as color, shape and size can all make a difference when one is styling a photo shoot. We have had a few photo shoots where we ran out of accessories and its shows in the finished product. But with the Chevy Chase kitchen remodel we were sure to have enough; two days worth of shopping produce a truck load worth of material to use. Plus, we had the owners existing pieces and other odds and ends brought in by the Wentworth team.


Despite having the most accessories and areas to style of any photo shoot in Wentworth history, we pulled the Chevy Chase shoot off without a hitch. The pre-planning helped us stay organized and focused. Once we arrived at the jobsite with a truck load of props (including a working under counter refrigerator), our group of 5 Wentworth team members unloaded the truck and began to prep the site. The first thing we always do once we get to the house, is take quick photos of the areas we are going to alter so we can be sure we return everything to its original place at the end of the day. We began cleaning and staging at 8AM, by 9:30 we had all 6 of our shots ready for the photographer, and the photographer began shooting by 10AM. We worked like a well oiled machine, once one shot was finished, we packed up all the borrowed accessories, put that section of the home back in order, and moved on to the next shot.

In the span of 11 hours, we had managed to get 8 shots, pack up all bought or borrowed accessories, and return the client’s house to its original condition. It was an exhausting day, but we never lost sight of the fact that photo shoots are valuable to everyone involved: from the homeowner, to the contractor and photographer. I’m proud to say that the photo shoot was a complete success and that we plan on winning awards with this amazing project

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