Ever since the advent of the web, it has gotten easier and easier to create “a look” online. You only need to view Pinterest to see hundreds of thousands of boards that public and professionals alike have pulled together.
I’m not going to deny that I use Pinterest, it’s brilliant for collating a number of ideas and it’s really useful for clients too, they can show their ideas all in one place, pretty much unheard of until Pinterest came along.
Now, don’t get me wrong a lot of Pinterest shots are beguiling. Shot by professional photographers, with amazing lighting and “staged” for that particular shoot, they are of course aspirational. I mean they could make a pig pen look amazing! In fact, a lot of interior shots littered throughout Pinterest, Twitter etc. were intended for the pages of magazines where clever graphics people and Photoshop reign supreme!
These pics here, courtesy of Thrifty & Chic help me to make my point. Okay, okay she’s using these images to talk about “how to fake a clean house” (great post by the way) but you can see the difference in lighting and the obvious staging, slightly different positioning etc. she’s done in the after image compared to before. This is (I’m pretty sure) without the use of Photoshop.
These bright and shiny social media images do put the pressure on your own portfolio! I know when I look at the photos of my work compared to Pinterest images, they look well, a bit crap if I’m honest. Mostly shot by me and making use of natural light where possible, they just don’t have that “almost hurt your eyes brightness” that the social photos do.
However, that’s how you can tell when a designer has used “stock” images to create their look. Buyer beware, these same shiny images seem to be suspiciously popping up on designer’s own websites.
When I created my website, I obviously wanted it to look the best and to showcase my work. After bemoaning the fact that my images didn’t look as good as others out there, a marketing friend of mine suggested I pull my portfolio and use a few stock images through my site. I obviously baulked at this. I reasoned that although my work was now starting to be a little dated (that’s a few years of career break for you) that it was at least MY work and once I started to finish more projects they would supersede the older ones. I’ve also decided that calling in a professional or at least investing in some photographic lighting equipment might be an idea going forward. Everyone (including me) is now used to seeing these beautifully lit, professional images. Anything else is bound to look a bit rubbish in comparison!
So, to make my original point using social media does not a designer make. If you see a website that looks like it’s just fallen off the pages of Pinterest, chances are you might be right! Always call and speak to an interior designer and have a checklist of things to ask. Most reputable designers will be more than happy to speak to you on the phone and come and see you for an initial consultation if you feel the call went well. This is usually free of charge (I’m happy to chat over the phone and never charge for an initial face to face consultation)
I’ve put together a checklist here you might find useful when considering a designer. This isn’t exhaustive by any means, but hopefully it will get you started.
Best of luck