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Photography 101: What Every Kitchen Designer Needs to Know

Submitted by DovetailMarketing on Sat, 06/22/2019 - 20:43

Homeowners who are considering a kitchen renovation are searching the internet for design inspiration and ideas. Whether they’re looking on Pinterest, Google, Instagram or Houzz, excellent photos of fabulous kitchens are what will catch their eye.

As a design professional, it’s important to show off your work using photos that will stand out among the many, many others homeowners are looking at.  

Showcasing your projects with great photography is also a very good way to build trust with prospects, to give them an idea of what you do and how you do it.


A kitchen renovation is huge for everyone involved. Sharing the progress of a kitchen remodel through Before-and-After photos on social media and on your website will connect your work with your customers and with your prospects at all stages of their buying journey.

People who have never undertaken a kitchen renovation will understandably be nervous about the process. You can educate them about what to expect and ease their fears by taking photos of the kitchen before demolition and following up with shots of the reno project in progress. Of course, the best photos are the “after” shots.

Before and After photos tell a great story


Shoot the “before” kitchen from different angles so you can take the “after” shots from the same angles to demonstrate the transformation.

For the “before” shots, take them during the day when the lighting is best to fully capture the details. Pictures taken at night rely on overhead lighting which may not be good enough to capture a clear photo.

You can use your cell phone for the before and after pictures, providing the lighting is sufficient. Adjust the settings so that you are taking high-resolution shots. You might want to get a wide-angle lens designed for cell phones to expand your phone into a virtual 35mm camera.

Hire a Pro

Recommendation: As soon as your project is finished, schedule the photo shoot. That way, the space is captured when it’s new and pristine.

Another recommendation: Hire a professional photographer to capture your finished project, especially one with experience in shooting kitchens. Interior spaces often require special lighting equipment for shooting reflective surfaces (stainless steel anyone?), so it’s a good idea to choose a photographer with experience in shooting kitchen interiors

Every photographer has his or her own method of styling, lighting, composition and scheduling, so it will help you to hire the right one if you can describe your project in detail.

If you’re not sure how to find a photographer, the Professional Photographers of America website can help.  Another way you can search for one is look for photographer credentials in magazines and on websites that feature kitchens, then search out their contact info on line to get in touch.

Let the photographer know in advance what your goals are for the photo shoot.  This way, he can capture your project the way you want it. Identify specific design details you want the photographer to shoot. Get a variety of shots, from close-ups to wide shots, so that the entire space is captured.

Designer can work with photographer to get the perfect shot

Photography Contracts

An understanding of the different types of photography contracts will help you know what kind of costs and permissions you can expect to receive. Photographers charge a fee to take the photographs, but many charge additional fees depending on how you will use them.

If you know for certain how you’re going to use the photos, you can make sure your contract provides you with all the necessary permissions. Will you be using them on your website only? Or will you be entering them in a design competition? Or submitting them for possible publication?

Photographers’ license agreements vary in what rights you are granted, and you’ll want to be sure you get all the rights you need up front. The ideal photography license is Full Rights, which permits you to use photos without any restrictions. The phrase “Unlimited Use” is also used to describe Full Rights.

The homeowner must sign a Property Release. This release gives you full legal rights to photograph the space. Some designers include this permission in their initial design contract. Most homeowners are more than happy to sign, especially if you offer to send them copies of the photos.

If your photos include people, you will need a signed Model Release form that states the individual grants you permission to use their image in the photos.


Preparing to stage a kitchen for photo shoot


Good staging can make a huge difference in how prospects see the finished kitchen in your photos. Staging can be as simple as a bowl of lemons or a knife block and a cutting board or as extensive as a fully set table with placemats, plates, silverware and wine glasses. Ideally, staging should be kept to a minimum so you don’t detract from the cabinetry or design details you want featured.

The best way to figure out how to stage a kitchen is to first take a picture of the space unstaged and note the areas that look empty or that could benefit from a pop of color.

homeowners search photos for inspiration for their kitchen renovation

Your photographer will be a great help in getting the space staged to avoid empty spots. What he sees through the camera is very different from what you see with your naked eye. He might point out, for example, that you should place something to break up an expanse of empty countertop. Or that a corner looks “dead” and needs something to liven it up. The look of a space can vary from what you see with your naked eye to a one-dimensional photo.


Photography that captures your work perfectly makes a big difference to potential clients who are considering hiring you. Well-lit, expertly staged and professionally shot photos bring your work and design expertise to life and establish your credibility as a designer worth hiring.