I spotted this smoking hot apartment on Arch Daily a couple of weeks ago, and it left me feeling a bunch of mixed emotions. In fact, this happens quite a bit when I’m searching the web for all the coolest stuff to share with you guys – I’ll often come across an interior that rocks hard, but is captured so poorly on camera. This always leaves me feeling seriously sad and disappointed. Why? Because I know so well how difficult it is to create an amazing interior – it takes an enormous amount of work, planning, creativity, collaboration with your client, your team as well as contractors, consultants and suppliers, not to mention the years of training and experience that give you an opportunity to deliver a project in the first place.

For all you interior designers out there – you know that feeling when you’ve completed a job, actually completed it and you walk on site after all the trades have left, all the furniture is in place and the space looks super awesome. You are there with a photographer ready to shoot and capture the space in all it’s glory for your portfolio or website or both… And that sweet anticipation of waiting for the photos to arrive, and when they do you drop everything and start looking through them almost immediately, you are on the edge of your seat… the moment of truth – how did the photos turn out? It could go either way at this point… Winner! You gasp for air when you stumble upon The Money Shot! Hooray! And you are just about ready to faint with excitement… Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, as I do. But the point is – it’s very exciting stuff, however it plays out for you.


So why do I tell you all this? Because I think that this brilliant project got short-changed by average photography. Simple as that. The purpose of this blog is to inspire, celebrate talents and achievements of others, educate where possible, and share the love in general – hence, I don’t really like to criticise very much (unless it’s the developers and our entire design industry – ha!) but this time I just cannot bite my tongue. These photos are mega average. And the styling. Don’t even get me started. Bad. Non existent actually. But why dammit? This interior is SMOKIN’. Hard. It’s on fire. I love it. Such a gorgeous space, clever planning, interesting mix of materials, those amazing raw steel doors etc, etc.

Designers, please – next time you complete a shit hot project, invest in some good photography. Please. Do not cut off your own nose despite your face. Your portfolio is your livelihood. The photos simply must be of the best quality you can possibly afford. Don’t spend the money on something else that month, but do hire a good photographer. Borrow money if you need to and consider it to be an important investment in your business. The right photographer will know to pick the best time of the day to shoot the space for optimum light conditions, they will not come back to you with weird-ass crops and strange reflections in shower screens (just look at the bottom image). Their photos will sing. And make sure to style the shoot – either yourself, or hire someone who knows what they are doing, if you don’t know how to do it yourself. At the very least, take care that the furniture isn’t part hiding behind columns or sticking out in the foreground as an unidentifiable abstract object that’s doing nothing for the shot. Anyway, I don’t need to teach you how to suck eggs – you know the deal.

I’m sorry if I’m preaching to the converted. I’m sorry to bring you another Dana-rant today. Maybe I’m just too critical. I couldn’t help myself. This is important.


The Small Print (except I’ve left it large so you can actually read it):

I’ve selected what I consider to be the better photos of this interior to share with you in this post – you can see the entire selection here, along with all the project info. The intention of this post is not to criticise any particular photographer – my rant is more about giving my opinion on the importance of good photography. I don’t consider good photography to be of any particular style, as most photographers will have their own signature look. Likewise with styling – a space doesn’t necessarily have to look flawless and pristine as though it was styled for thepages of a glossy magazine, although there is nothing wrong with that! Often lived in interiors can be even more appealing than the ones that appear like a staged set or a furniture showroom. Just take a look at this site which shows real people in real interiors, largely un-styled in fact, but the photography is just so beautiful.

x dana

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

14 Responses

  1. Sara

    Totally agree with your little rant- wow what a let down these shots are. Thanks for reminding me to invest in photography because the alternative is down right dull and depressing.

  2. meg

    Still an amazing place! and totally agree about the value of quality photography and styling.

  3. Linda from OEKE

    Ahhh .. passion for what you do is sometimes missing these days. Rant and rave all you like – as what you have written is a well educated, well thought-out and well deserved. I did find your ‘suck eggs’ comment quite funny – and the reflections in the shower screen was pretty much a ‘how many people does it take to change a lightbulb’ sort of pic wasn’t it!!!


  4. Kylie

    Thanks for the comments Dana. I agree with you. I’m currently studying photography and hope to specialise in interiors and architecture and your comments regarding ‘good’ photography are spot on. It looks like the photographer has just used natural light to photograph the space which is fine in some circumstances, but in this case it needed so much more. Great living space though!

  5. Lisa Gordon Scott

    Agreed! Photography can be ‘make or break’ for a project…I’ve seen a lot of mediocre interiors with beautiful photography on the interweb and vice versa!
    That workspace is awesome and a bathroom with marble, glass, white subway tiles, timber flooring and a concrete whb…yes please!

  6. Suzanne Turner

    Thanks for sharing this space! I didn’t think the photography was the most amazing ever, but I think the space spoke for itself and I’ve seen much, much worse. I’ve seen designers use absolutely terrible photos in their online portfolios, and these definitely communicated the space sufficiently IMHO. Sometimes you just have to vent though, and we’re here for you. ;)

  7. yellowtrace

    Thank you for your comments everyone – I really appreciate them, particularly as this was one of the less positive posts I’ve written so far. And thank you for allowing me to rant away! I was feeling a little bit self conscious after letting it rip like that, but you guys are the most supportive bunch of readers any lil blogger could ask for. Naw! Stop it – I’m getting all emotional now…

    Suzanne, I agree that this photography isn’t the worst ever – I too have seen much, much worse than this, but I guess I would not have really shown such images on the blog in the first place due to poor aesthetics. What can I say, I’m vain that way ;) Interestingly enough I received a couple of e-mails from other readers in response to this post saying the same thing as you. You’re right – this place is incredible and its design and overall spatial quality speak for themselves. But can you just imagine for a moment how INCREDIBLE these images could have looked if they were shot and styled property. Smokin’!

    Thanks again everyone.
    x dana

  8. BenGMorgan

    Hey Dana,

    I agree. As an online editor I struggle with the quality and composition of photography every day! Painful. However as online takes off and websites (as opposed to blogs) are increasingly seen as a threat to print, I fear we can only expect more of the rubbish (not that the images above deserve to be called rubbish) as designers and architects are forced into first publication agreements – on projects and photography – with print mags.

    My suggestion to designers and architects- don’t agree to complete exclusivity. Separate print and online agreements so you get maximum coverage and don’t forget that you need to be very careful with your image selection when sending material to websites/blogs as they have the ability to publish them all (even the sub-standard ones).

    Thanks for the vent Dana, we don’t get to do it often.

    And maybe just a call out to all the wonderful and talented photographers out there who are generally the majority we deal with. It’s an absolute pleasure when the soul of a home is captured by you.


  9. John Barry

    hmmmmmm well….. i would have to totally disagree with
    your comments. You run a blog no? your not a photographer or a
    editor and therefore are not entitled to the criticism of the
    photography…. The styling is admittedly bad with random items
    misplaced but technically speaking the photography is quite
    adequate and captures the space well. There is not barrel
    distortion or collapsing verticals with the imagery and the
    “Natural Lighting” (GASP HORROR SHOCK!) is suitable for the
    architects neo-modernism. Built up studio lighting on location is
    terribly 80’s no matter what your lecturer says Kylie. Amateur…
    Tell me what you would do differently??? oh wait thats right you
    probably cant….

  10. yellowtrace

    John, thank you for your comment and for voicing a different opinion. It seems to me that you feel personally attacked by my post – some of your comments come across as quite aggressive, which is not very cool.

    I agree with your observations regarding some of the technical aspects of these photographs, but I still don’t feel that these are good photos. Besides, you can’t possibly tell me that the last bathroom shot with those reflections isn’t a joke. It’s just terrible.

    In my opinion, a good architectural photograph is able to capture the soul and tell a story about a space, not just be ‘technically correct’. Lighting plays a huge part in this, and if it were me, I would have perhaps picked a different time of day to shoot this space so that the windows weren’t so blown out, and the interior wasn’t so dark and flat in some of the photos. Sure, I am NOT a photographer, but I definitely do know what a good photo looks like, and I am most certainly entitled to have an opinion on the subject. Are you suggesting that, given that I can’t sew, I am not entitled to critisise, or have an opinion on what a well made piece of clothing looks like? This is a completely absurd argument.

  11. Diaz

    Ok! I’m feeling sorry for your poor article about this amazing project. I really don’t follow you and have no idea what background you have to write with such superiority about both photographer and architects. You definitely should had searched more about those pictures and understood the intention here – even when talking about the reflections – maybe, in order to write and criticize talented professionals – you should be able to know AND understand that a top brazilian photographer knows what he is doing while showing reflections – it was the best way to show what both architect and client wanted from this space. I don’t know if you are aware but his was one of the most published apartments in SP. Long story short, big names such as Vogue Living Australia and Yatzer were two of the many willing to publish the project. I follow Fran’s work and you should visit his website and re-visit all his publications or maybe get to capture what a good photography is, before advising people what a good or bad shooting is. Not to mention the architect responsible for this project – a rising star in Brazilian Architecture – . Oh! and don’t forget to check this out: http://petitecandela.blogspot.com.es/2014/07/ideas-decorar-espacios-comunes.html

    • Dana Tomić Hughes
      Dana Tomić Hughes

      Thanks for your concern Diaz, but there’s definitely no need to feel sorry for me or this article. Almost 4 years have gone by since I wrote this post, and I still stand by my comments – 100%. This is an amazing apartment that’s been let down by less than average photography. Fact.

      While I appreciate that we will all have a different point of view, I don’t appreciate people leaving aggressive or inflammatory comments on here. If you read my post carefully and in it’s entirety, you would have noticed that my intention was never to offend anyone, especially not the architects.


Leave a Reply