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Details

Published by Catherine Nguyen

“To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail." ~ Giorgio Armani

Armani certainly knew what he was talking about when it comes to creating something exceptional.  His philosophy can be applied to every type of art from photography and videography to dance and acting, even cooking and baking. True art lives in the details, the tiny cracks and crevices, the parts of the sum.

When a fresh set of eyes first sees the Mona Lisa, they don’t necessarily see the enigmatic smirk that has been pointed out over time, but as they study and analyze the famous masterpiece, it is unavoidable.

Every artist hides these details and it’s the viewer’s job to find them, interpret them, and make something out of them. Everyone sees, tastes, feels, hears, or touches something different than those that experience it before or after them.

As a photographer, the line between viewer and artist blends like colors on a canvas. The spaces in which I create my art are artwork in and of themselves. My job is not only to interpret the space, but to capture it — hidden secrets and all — and portray a new story from the viewpoint of my lens.

Of course, I see the color of the walls and the style of the furniture first, but my eye is also drawn to the lines of the crown molding or the antique glass tray that will perfectly hold the homeowner’s new magazine issue.  Thus begins the magic that is interior and architectural photography.

Detail in my work extends far beyond what is already present in the space. Photography captures a moment in time without any context so it’s important to leave clues about the world beyond the room as well. If the shoot is taking place in the winter but will be released in the spring, adding blooming flowers and fresh greenery will hint at the season without the viewer having to read a caption.

This idea of bringing the outside in was a huge inspiration for the first article I ever shot for Walter Magazine. The residents of the breathtaking home bought the property sight unseen, as the wife knew that the property’s setting was all the inspiration she needed. It was that same artistic mindset that brought the outdoors inside as they renovated their new home.

I’m fortunate to work with fantastic interior designers, stagers, and stylists who help create a story within a frame. Collaborating allows us to bring our perspectives to the space. Where they might know the best color palette for the client, I might suggest an added object, plant, or floral arrangement to fill an empty space. My goal for each image is for the viewers’ eyes to move throughout the picture. Sometimes the slightest adjustments can create a world of difference in one shot versus the next.

My go-to suggestions for styling photo shoots include:

  • Bringing extra throw pillows or blankets
  • Including florals and plants — particularly seasonal
  • Having coffee table books and objects of various sizes on hand
  • Playing with size differences in decorative objects
  • Highlighting art

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started to make a suggestion in unison with the designer or stylist. “Can we swap out that book for something larger?” or “That arrangement needs some height.”  These small adjustments, micromovements, details, all come together to create a story. How one person interprets it compared to the next is out of my hands, but my details will be there – camouflaged until spotted – and then hard to miss.

What story do you want your space to tell?