Around the House
February 27, 2008
It’s nearly spring cleanup/fix up time. I’m limiting my spring action to probing the back of the refrigerator to dislodge jars of forgotten spaghetti sauce. But for those that will spend in excess of 150 million dollars on home improvements this year in the US, it’s time to get to work. The do-it-yourself crowd spends zillions of dollars and has created a multitude of businesses on-line and on the street to sell everything from fixtures to classes in building additions. Websites, magazines and books in many languages lend a hand to the home and garden set. How can you create images that will meet the needs of these huge markets?
If you know of a big-ticket project such as a remodel or new addition that will give you access, get over there and set up some shoots at each stage of the project. Try to isolate one aspect of the project in each shot as well as document the progress of the entire project. A wide angle showing the entire kitchen during a make over is good but also focus close in on specifics such as a sink installation as well.
In a tight real estate market, those who have to put their houses on the market are spending extra money on curb and interior appeal. The cheapest and easiest thing they do is to paint. You can create these shots simply with a blank wall that can easily be repainted. Construct a fake wall in the studio. Plaster it and then paint it….all with models appearing to do the work. At home take the drapes or curtains down to create the look of window coverings being installed.
Images of a completely jammed garage add humor to the idea of cleanup. Thinking of cleaning up garages and attics means getting rid of hazardous wastes such as paint thinners and pesticides. Show the delivery of these to the local disposal collection area. One chore that is best left to a professional is to sweep the chimney. Many modern homeowners think that cleaning out the chimney is something out of Mary Poppins. Not so. And Dreamstime doesn’t have a single image of an actual chimney sweep.
Grab an easy shot while someone is up on a ladder changing out the batteries on the smoke detectors. Most recommend that this be done annually when daylight savings time begins and that is just around the corner. (Take note that your models in all these situations are photographed using ladders and other tools in a safe manner. If not, the images will not be as successful).
Spring is the perfect time to wash windows in and out. Shooting through the glass as it is being washed can make interesting shots. Another annual task is cleaning rain gutters on a house. This activity is also the one that is most likely to kill or injure a homeowner so I don’t recommend getting a model to do this.
March is the month to prune roses in most areas. Early planting begins for the home gardener. Although gardens make prettier pictures later in the year, now is the time to get shots of early spring planting/pruning for instructional websites and magazines.
Models. Ok some users will go for the sexy girl with a hammer image but the broader audience wants models that could be the couple next door fixing up a room for a new baby or doing spring cleanup in the garden.
Make certain that the wardrobe is appropriate. Choose clothing that would typically be worn for each task. Getting a little paint on the model and his clothes adds authenticity. Get the models dusty and a bit messed up. Very few women wear full makeup while doing chores around the house or while working in the garden. On the other hand best to forget snapping the worker that shows up looking like he just spent the night passed out by the side of the road.
Many uses require still life images using the tools of the trades. Wander around the local hardware store to see many examples of how this sector uses images on the many brand brochures and hang tags. There is usually a rack of do-it-yourself how-to books for even more ideas. Who knows, you might even decide to finally paint the living room while you are getting inspired to make images.