We were recently featured in Better Home and Garden's Do It Yourself Magazine (!!!) and I thought it would be interesting to share what the process is actually like in real life. This was our first photo shoot for a magazine, and I had no idea what to expect. For some reason, my biggest concern was making sure we had enough snacks on hand for the day (you can see where my priorities are, haha). Here is our personal experience and a glimpse at all that goes into those pretty glossy pages of home decor magazines!
On August 10, 2016, I received an email while at work. It said:
I actually get quite a bit of spam via my blog, so I honestly didn't think much of it. I hesitantly responded back with a generic email trying to find out if this inquiry was legit without getting my hopes up.
After a bit of Googling, I realized, holy moly, this lady and company is legit. But I still never thought anything would come of it. We'd send photos, they'd say "thanks, but no thanks" and it would be something me and Brian joked about down the road - "remember that time someone contacted us about being in a magazine?"
Emails were sent back and forth and we were asked to send before and after photos of the renovation. Since in August we were still very much knee-deep in the renovation stage and not moved in yet, I wasn't able to submit photos until November. I was also asked to send along a little bio on the house and any notable projects we did. I forwarded a dropbox link with probably way too many photos and held my breath. A few weeks later, we received an update that our project was in a "hold" folder - meaning it was being more seriously considered for publication. (!!!!!)
Then right before Christmas, we got the news that our house was selected to be in Better Home and Garden's Do It Yourself Magazine. The editor of the magazine sent along the info for the shoot (date and photographer) as well as rooms they would like to include. There was also some direction on styling for the stylist to implement during the shoot. For example, there was a note that our house felt a little too "model home" and like no one lived here (haha) so the stylist was instructed to bring in more color, plants, knick knacks and pillows.
Talk about lighting a fire under your you know what. Over the next few months, Brian and I worked tirelessly to not only finish up the flip we were working on, but also get our house photo ready! The Myrtle House was livable at that point, but not "done" by any means. We were still using a lot of areas for storage, and needed to button up all of those loose ends we tend to put off until the last minute. Scraping the old paint off the windows, landscaping, and a million other small projects.
Andrea, the lady who originally reached out, and her talented team showed up bright and early on April 5, 2017. I was a nervous wreck leading up to it! Is the house clean enough? What do I wear? Are the wrinkles in the drapes going to show in the photos? And of course, the forecast that spring day called for awful thunder storms. I wasn't sure what to expect or how involved we would need to be. The stylist, photographer, and photographer's assistant worked like a well-oiled machine and got right to it setting up camera equipment and unloading props. They were on a tight timeline and were very super efficient. You could tell this wasn't their first rodeo! The quality of these photos are awful but I was trying to be discreet and play it cool like this was no big deal (but it totally was).
Brian and I quickly realized that we were most useful out of their way, lol, and we tried to stay nearby in case they needed something or for us to jump into a photo. We were also asked to write down all of the sources for items in our home (lighting, paint colors, contractor info, furniture) for the index at the back of the magazine so I spent a lot of the day going through each room and writing everything down.
The attention to detail and planning that goes into these shoots is really impressive. Flowers, candle holders, rugs, fruit, vases, etc. were set up in our spare bedroom and brought in and out for different shots. They also used a lot of our own decor items but moved them around from different rooms. The photographer would take a couple of photos, the crew would scrutinize it on the computer screen, and then the stylist would edit and tweak the props until the photos were just right. Then they'd call it done and move on to the next shot.
The trio worked all day only breaking for a short time to gobble down some salads we picked up from a nearby restaurant before getting back to it. As predicted, the weather was AWFUL that day. The sky was so dark that the photographer had a hard time getting enough light for the shots. Luckily, we got the outdoor shots completed *just* in time before the bottom fell out. All of the photos were wrapped up by 4:30 PM and everything was packed back up just as quickly as it was unloaded. I know the team must have been exhausted - we were, for sure! While the day was so fun and exciting - a complete whirlwind, it was nice to not have the "must get house literally picture perfect" pressure weighing on our shoulders anymore.
A few months went by, and I didn't hear anything more about it. I was too nervous to ask when it was expected to be published (what if they said it wasn't going to be!?) and checked each new version I saw in the grocery store to see if it was out yet, haha. Finally, I worked up the nerve to send an email requesting the publish date and was told the Summer 2018 edition.
Later on a November evening, I got a call from a super sweet lady who was a writer for the magazine. She wanted to set up some time for a phone interview so that she could write the copy for the article. Before our scheduled call, she forwarded over the edited images from the shoot and it was so neat to finally see those dolled up shots of our house. We chatted for about an hour and she asked questions about us, the house, the renovation, and the DIY projects we completed. A few days later, a draft of the article was sent over for us to review.
Then just the other night on a regular 'ol Monday night, Brian and I were grocery shopping at Target and I spotted it in a checkout aisle - the summer issue! Our issue! It was in a little protective plastic sleeve, but I didn't care, I ripped that sucker right open like a maniac (it was a given that I was buying at least three copies, so it was okay) and there we were. Do you know how weird/cool it is to see your face on something for sale in Target?!
Almost a year to the date of the photo shoot! Isn't it amazing how far in advance these shoots get planned? I'm so thrilled that we had this opportunity (never in a million years did I think we'd see our mugs in a magazine, y'all) and I treasure these photos even more now that we have since sold that old house that we poured so much of our hearts into. <3
If you've made it this far, bless you. I hope this was at least somewhat enlightening as to what goes into a magazine photo shoot!