Maybe you're going to be featured in an online mag. Or maybe you are selling your house. Or maybe you just want to take pics of your house and then hang them up on your living room walls, and be really weird and meta.
However, before you start snapping pics, there are a few things you need to do before the magic goes down.
1. Clean and clear the clutter. The first thing you need to do is find any and all clutter. I'm talking about messy desks, junky countertops in the kitchen, bathroom vanities, and even that pile of crap in your bedroom that you keep meaning to "organize." You need to get this shit put away, and put away fast. As soon as you think you've eliminated all clutter, walk around again...I bet you missed some crap.
To make sure all your junk gets back to its junky spot after your shoot, you can get some empty boxes, put all the crap from each cluttered spot in your house in there and put them away. Best case scenario, you have somewhere to store this stuff for a few days to keep it out of the way (closet, basement, attic, storage unit, etc). Worst case scenario, you can move these boxes of junk around your house as you do the shoot (i.e. when you are shooting the bedroom, junk can be in the kitchen; when you are shooting the kitchen, junk can be in the bedroom). But word to the wise: this is a giant pain in the ass, so try to figure out a spot where you can put all this stuff away. TIP: I've even stashed stuff in my car before if space was particularly tight.
Once you've got all your crap piled up in a closet out of view, you need to start cleaning. And I mean clean HARD. Every surface of your joint needs to be sparkling--there is no negotiation on this one. If you are insanely lazy like I am, you can spring for a housekeeper to come by. But if you want to go at it alone, set aside some serious time to clean. And don't skimp on things you might normally--like your windows. Those suckers will be very visible in the pics, so they need to be crystal clear.
2. Give yourself options (and zhush). If there is anything in your space that you are updating or switching up--new drapes, new pillows on the couch, linens, etc--then go out and buy at least 3 options for each. Even if you go out and find the pillows that you are COMPLETELYTOTALLY100%POSITIVEYOULOVELOVELOVE, you still probably want to get a few extra pillows...just in case. I have found that time and time again, what has saved me in a pinch is having options and variations of things. When something is just not working on camera, or colors are looking muted, or you're just not digging the texture of a throw pillow, you will be thanking your lucky stars you have some replacements on standby.
Now don't freak out...you're not necessarily buying all this stuff to keep. In fact, you will probably return most of it, but you want to have it on deck just in case. TIP: Guard your receipts for all this stuff with your life. If you want to return the things you didn't end up using/don't love, you will need 'em! I like to keep them all aside in an envelope in my glove compartment or somewhere else where you won't lose em'.
You also can't forget to zhush up your space. Now this means different things for different people. I like to go a little crazy at the flower market because I love arranging flowers. Maybe you want to splurge on some pretty soap for your bathroom, or dish soap for your kitchen. It seems like lemons and apples in bowls is kind of over in the world of styling, but if you're not ready to let that go, you can go vegetable/fruit shopping. Just take a look around and see what sorts of stuff you can add to your joint that will spice things up in photographs. TIP: Look at some home tours online to see if you are inspired by anything you see. HGTV, Domaine Home and Pinterest are faves of mine to spy on pics.
3. Pretend you're a photographer. Ok, look: I know you're not *really* a photographer, otherwise you wouldn't be reading my stupid blog and would already know how to do this stuff. But before your photo shoot, you need to think like a photographer and act like a photographer. That means walking around your space, snapping pics with your phone and ensuring you have some juicy "vignettes." WTF is a vignette, you might be wondering? This is the sort of stuff I'm talking about:
The actual definition is probably something totally different, but to me a vignette is kind of like a little zoomed in scene within your home. You might already have one on your coffee table, or in your entry, or on your fireplace mantel. You probably have vignettes coming out the whazoo and you didn't even know it. And if you don't, better get stylin'--it's time to embrace the vignette.
Walk around your space and make sure everything is styled to your liking. Snap pictures and look at them on your phone (DON'T skip this step...I promise shit sometimes looks way different on camera). These aren't going to be great photos that you take, but it doesn't really matter. You just want to get a feel for how your space is looking overall. Before a recent shoot in a client's space I was thinking the throw pillows on the couch were looking bangin. Then I took a pic with my iPhone and I almost threw up all over my screen. This will really help you make sure all the finishing touches are in place and that you're ready to go. TIP: Try to take the pics at the same time of day your photo shoot will be. This way you will get a sense of what the natural light will be like at that time.