outdoor photo shoots.

With Spring officially here (and possibly even actually here, I do have a few things starting to come up in my gardens), I’m realizing that I’m really looking forward to returning to outdoor photo shoots this year.

Last year around this time I was feeling really insecure about my outdoor photos.  I had read something online that was critical of the idea of taking your furniture photos outside.  The writer suggested that you should always stage your furniture in spots that show how it could actually be used and that outdoor photos were ‘unprofessional.’

I immediately thought to myself ‘oh man, I’ve been doing it wrong all this time’, ‘I need to change what I’m doing to meet professional standards’ … which led to those inevitable feelings of ‘my work is inferior’ and ‘I don’t measure up.’

I started trying to think of ways I could set up better indoor photos year round.

I do have my photo cottage for summer photo shoots …

But it is in dire need of a fresh paint job, plus I can never quite get the lighting right in there.  Also, it’s small, so I have limited ability to shoot the piece from different angles other than straight on.

I also have the one blank wall in my house that I can stage for furniture photos …

It works great in the winter.  However, we have a lot of trees in our yard and in summer when they leaf out this spot is no longer filled with natural light.

I’d even thought about setting up a spot in my carriage house for summer ‘indoor’ photo shoots.

This spot seemed like it would be ideal because it has an authentic ship-lap style wall, and that concrete floor has a cool industrial vibe.  The lighting all comes from the side, but maybe I could work with that.  But in the end, the one thing that drove me crazy was the fact that the ship-lap is not level with the floor.  So my photos all end up looking crooked.  I can either make the furniture level or the ship-lap level, not both.

Finally I simply came to the conclusion that maybe outdoor photos were OK after all.  I mean seriously you guys, when am I going to learn to follow my own instincts and ignore the naysayers?

There really is something about outside photos that appeals to me.  Maybe it’s that unexpected juxtaposition of an outside setting with some inside furniture.

Or maybe it’s just that I enjoy working outside in any capacity when I have the chance.  Our summer season is so darn short here in Minnesota, so I like to enjoy it while I can.

I do realize that I’m lucky to have an awesome leafy, green background to take advantage of, not to mention a giant Limelight hydrangea to use as a backdrop.

In the end, outdoor photos work great for me.  So I thought I’d share a few q-tips with all of you on how to get the best outdoor photos.

Early morning or late evening light is best.  Photographers call the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset the ‘golden hour’, the light is softer than at other times of day and you can get a beautiful glow on your subject, whatever it might be.

You can shoot outside at mid-day if you’re in full shade, or if it’s an overcast day.

However, you should avoid direct sunlight which creates harsh shadows.

Dappled shade can be a problem too.

 If shooting in dappled shade try to make sure that your piece itself is mostly in shade.  Or ask your neighbor to come over and hold up a large golf umbrella just out of frame to throw some shade on your piece (nnK comes in really handy for this).

By the way, all of these tips work great for portrait photography too.  So the next time you want to get a good family photograph keep them in mind.

I’m looking forward to embracing ‘outdoor photo shoot season’ again this year.

How about you?

44 thoughts on “outdoor photo shoots.

  1. Great tops. I’m usually just so happy I’m done and ready to sell I don’t do a great job on photography, so I appreciate the hints. But your photos are always so beautifully staged and lighted. Thanks

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know exactly how you feel Laura! By the time I get a piece finished I am usually too worn out to work on photographing it. It works best for me if I can get pieces finished by Saturday, and then spend Sunday working just on the photography 🙂

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  2. I absolutely love your outdoor photos! Why do we doubt ourselves! I wonder who sells more furniture you or the person who made the comment? I follow a few furniture blogs and you rock. I can’t believe you work full time and work this blog like you do!! Be fearless and don’t doubt yourself you have a beautiful style!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel like the more time I spend on social media (ie. Instagram, Facebook, blogs) looking at other people’s work, the more I doubt my own. I’ve actually been trying to cut back on surfing those things lately because it seems that instead of inspiring me to be creative, it actually just makes me more critical of my work. I definitely need to work on being more fearless!! Thanks Kim!

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  3. I started reading this, wondering what is wrong with staging furniture outside. Turns out there’s nothing wrong at all…it’s a case of “one man’s junk is another treasure” scenerio. Which has held true to your Quandie leanings all along. You have a good eye for photography and you are a professional, whether it feels like it to you or not. And I love the furniture pictures taken outside too…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Such a great post. Adore your outside shoots. I’ve always thought they were clever and original.
    Plus I really enjoyed the stroll down memory lane revisiting your past work. And thanks for sharing your more Q-tips they are always encouraging.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love your outdoor photos! Your home and yard make a beautiful backdrop for your furniture. I dream of being as professional and talented as you someday!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love the outdoor photos also. No need to change. I think the outside photos show everyone all the different seasons of Minn. And how beautiful the furniture is with natural lighting.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Bravo! There is nothing wrong with outdoor photography. Your photos are beautiful and very well staged . Although the other person gives helpful advice for many furniture painters, yours are unique and appealing. They are your signature.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You go girl! I happen to enjoy your outdoor photos…alot!! So called “experts” drive me crazy with their opinions. After all…it’s just their opinion. Go with your gut. You inspire me!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You are entirely overthinking and over critiquing your work. Only you are studying the ship-lap and focusing on the disconnect. When I come here, I am rewarded with very creative recycling of furniture. I am focused on the evolution of the pieces you have transformed and am always impressed with your professional work and attention to detail. You have taken your focus and turned it against your creative self. We aren’t here for the photos per se, we are here to see your productive, artistic self at work. Breathe and let this go my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As a buyer, I actually like outdoor photos for furniture. Indoor pics make me think about a piece of furniture in your house; outdoor pics let me imagine it in mine!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Don’t listen to those “experts(?)”! Your photos are gorgeous (every one) and they represent your awesome talent and unique style. I love your outdoor photos. They capture the beauty of the piece you are working on and the beauty of your lovely home and garden.

    Honestly, as I’ve said before, your blog is my favorite… Please don’t change a thing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I actually have been staging outside and using the wild flowers as props. However it is difficult for me to do large heavy pieces because there’s no one to help me carry them. Where I live in North central Florida there are thousands of gourgeous natural places to shoot. So glad you posted it encourages me Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am lucky to have a husband who is willing to help shuffle furniture around. But I also got a really nice furniture dolly last year with fat tires so that I can use it over rough terrain. I know that wouldn’t especially help if you have to navigate stairs though.

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  13. Good morning Linda. I have read quite a bit about what the experts say about photographing furniture for sale. I have taken many tips and inspiration from you. I believe my best photos are those taken outside! It’s hard to have/find/keep available an inside spot. If I had to do that all the time, those photos probably wouldn’t get done. Keep on marching to your own beat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you Jody, I think my best photos are the ones taken outside! Hope you’re finding lots of great outdoor location now that you’re in Texas. It’s probably a more conducive environment for outdoor photos all year long 😉

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  14. I was professionally trained as a photographer from a very demanding institution which trained me in {among other things} commercial product photography, and I have NEVER been critical of your photos! While I think that there is something to be said about staging a piece inside, I have most enjoyed your outdoor photos. Everyone has their own artistic style, including you. You consistently produce beautiful work and each piece comes with a lovely story. In fact, I enjoy your writing as much as your images. I can also tell you that EVERYONE doubts themselves–I saw that up close and personal when I was photographing personal development classes and I was privy to all of the coaching. My advice to you is to do your own thing. You have your own vision. You have your own tribe–I am happy to be part of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment Vanessa! I need to remind myself more often that everyone doubts themselves, and we are always most critical of our own stuff. I’m happy that mentioned enjoying reading the posts too. In my mind the one thing that still sets a blog apart from Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook is the writing, and I really enjoy that part of blogging (that’s why my blog is my main focus and the other things are afterthoughts). I do often wonder if people are reading the posts though, or just surfing through the photos!

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  15. Linda, your outdoor photos are wonderful! I think it represents the colors you use better than inside. Inside the lighting can be so different from house to house or room to room. Outdoors, you either have sun or shade, or a combination of each. We all have some variance of that, each day, therefore we are seeing the color just as it would be in our outdoor space when our conditions are the same. In other words, outdoor light is not different for viewing colors and finishes as long as we are having the same amount of sun or shade of conditions. My bright Sun is the same as your bright Sun on a sunny day, therefore I can judge the color the same. I hope this makes sense. The lighting outside is more consistent and easier to interpret than indoor lighting which depends on many factors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a great point Shelly. Getting the color right in my photos is something I work hard at (and I fully admit that I don’t always succeed). But since I’m presenting specific paint colors and finishes, I want my photos to show them as accurately as possible. Of course, you can never get it perfect. Different monitors, or whatever device you might be viewing the blog on, are going to give you different results. But hopefully you get a fairly accurate idea of what a color might look like on my blog!

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  16. I love your outdoor photos. I thought just the opposite of the reviews you read. Your lighting is great. Keep up the good work and do trust your instincts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel terrible for those in southern Minnesota where they are predicting another 4 to 5″ of snow today. Fortunately, here in the Twin Cities it will just be cold and rainy. But the green is starting to show up. We can just see that first flush of green from leaves starting to bud on the trees. It will be green, green, green here before we know it!

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  17. I read the same rule – don’t shoot your furniture outside. While it made sense, the first thought I had was “Quandie’s photos and furniture are beautifully shot that way.” It shows there are no hard and fast rules. Your photography is as much an art as your painting. I’ve also noticed that the more Facebook painting groups and social media that I follow, the more I doubt my work and the less I paint. I wondered if that was just me. Blogs don’t seem to affect me the way the other does. You inspire me, the other makes me feel unworthy. Even though I’ve never had a problem selling my work or getting custom work I feel as if my painting is amateurish after looking at so much stuff online. It’s either that or by following too much social media fills my need to actually put brush to piece. I’m glad you mentioned you have the same issues.Yours is one of the few blogs left that I still follow and look forward to. Your work is far superior to mine but you encourage me to reach for the stars rather than leaving me feeling like I should stop. The way you speak, inform and teach is supportive. Keep up with your art – the painting and the outdoor photography. The typical rules don’t apply to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I read that same comment in a facebook group for furniture painters. My first thought was of how wonderful your photo shoots are! I don’t really have a spot in the house that’s ideal for staging so I take most photos outdoors with my gardens as a backdrop or in my booths. I stopped reading posts in that group because I’ll never live up to their standards. And I sell enough furniture at outdoor shows to know that most people are not that lacking in imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

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