A guest post by Styled Homes Studios
With mince pies already spotted on supermarket shelves, it’s that time of year again to plan your Christmas content and focus on your seasonal products. We know that having strong, festive lifestyle images – ready for the lead up to Christmas – not only helps increase opportunities for Christmas press coverage, it also connects with your ideal audience and boosts sales. This is everyone’s goal, so how can you make your content stand out? One way to elevate your lifestyle imagery is by using a location house for your photoshoot. However, we also know that the process of finding and hiring a shoot location hasn’t always been simple and transparent, and that the additional spend can seem like a daunting prospect. In this post, we’ll look at the benefits of using a location house, demystify how to find and secure the right space for your Christmas production and share our top tips for getting the most out of your location shoot.
Firstly, what does a location house offer for seasonal lifestyle photoshoots?
- Versatility: You can find a location house in almost any style and theme, allowing you to choose a setting that perfectly complements your products. Whether you’re looking for a rustic farmhouse, a modern urban loft, or a cosy holiday cottage, you can find a location that aligns with your brand and product aesthetics, so you won’t need to spend on costly decoration (just a sprinkling of seasonal styling).
- Variety: Location houses often have multiple rooms or spaces with different looks. This variety allows you to capture a diverse range of product images under one roof.
- Natural Light: Location houses are generally selected for having an abundance of natural light, ideal for product photography.
- Professional setup: Shooting in a well-maintained location house will give your product images a professional and polished look. You can also arrive confident that the space will be shoot-ready when you arrive, saving you time on preparation and allowing you to create the magic that only you bring to your brand.
- Authenticity: Using a real home can add an element of authenticity to your product images. They are also full of items chosen by the owners specifically for the space that can be used as props, lightening the load when it comes to propping and styling.
- Cost: Renting a location house for a photoshoot can be cost-effective compared to building elaborate sets.
Before you start looking
Before you start looking for your location, it’s helpful to have your Christmas photoshoot vision mapped out. What message do you want to convey? What emotions do you want to evoke? Having a clear vision will guide your decisions throughout the planning process and help you choose a location house that will align with your brand, elevate your visual storytelling, and forge that connection with your ideal client.
Once you have a vision in mind you can create a mood board which will help you to visualise the overall aesthetic and narrow down the type of location you’re looking for so you can choose the space with the right look and feel.
Creating a shot list for the day, with all the specific shots you want to capture, will help to identify what you will need on a practical level from your location. Will you want somewhere with high ceilings for a statement Christmas tree and an attractive façade for a wreath for example? Think through the areas of a home you’ll need for showing your products in situ and have this list to hand when reviewing potential locations.
Choosing the right location house
Now you have a mood board and/or shot list you can start looking for the ideal location house. Using a site like Styled Home Studios allows you to browse through hundreds of locations across the UK with the ability to search and filter to narrow down your options.
Here are a few things to consider when starting your search:
- Geographical location: where would you like your shoot to be based and how far can you travel?
- Interior style: Choose something that is already on brand and will appeal to your ideal clients.
- Natural light: If you are shooting primarily with natural light, you will want to choose a location with lots of available light. Your photographer can help with this, as every photographer works differently with or without a flash.
- Rooms available: Does the location allow access to all the rooms you want to shoot in?
- Rate: Is the location within budget? Using Styled Home Studios, you can book your shoot by the hour, meaning that you don’t have to pay for time that you don’t need and rates are available up-front..
- Parking: This is especially important to check for city locations!
Enquire and book
You should have already been able to check off all the above from the location’s information page and hopefully narrowed it down to a couple of options. It’s always a good idea to submit an enquiry before making a booking to check that the date you want is available and to ask any other questions specific to your shoot. To make the process as straightforward as possible, an enquiry should give the location some key information so the Host feels comfortable accepting your booking (as these locations are also people’s homes it’s always appreciated when an initial enquiry provides a decent amount of information).
What to include in a location enquiry:
- Your name, role and company.
- Date(s) you’re enquiring about.
- Number of hours/days required.
- Crew Size (include your team and any models so they know how many people in total will be on site on shoot day).
- Overview of the shoot (one paragraph quickly describing the goal of the shoot).
For larger shoots it is a good idea to request a recce (an opportunity to visit the location to check that it is suitable as well as to familiarise yourself with the layout, lighting conditions and potential angles). These visits should be kept short and last between 20 minutes – 1 hour (depending on the size of the location) but can be very useful and can save you time on shoot day.
As we’re talking about seasonal shoots you will probably be dressing the location so if you’re shooting Christmas in July for example, you’ll want to discuss any significant festive dressing and large props (like a 9ft Christmas tree!) with the location as part of the enquiry and booking process. Make sure that you factor the time you will need to transform the location into a winter wonderland as well as the take down time into your booking, so you’re not rushed on the day. If you do find that time has got away from you then have a conversation with the location as soon as possible to agree on any overtime you might need that day. Overtime is usually charged at 1.5 times the hourly rate so it makes sense to book ample time in advance rather than relying on the option of overtime.
It’s shoot day
Shoot day has finally arrived and your creative team, products and props are ready to go. Aim to arrive in good time so that you’re ready to access the location at the agreed time. If you’ve booked more than one day on location you should be able to leave your equipment and scenes set up (with prior agreement) so you can return and get stuck straight back in.
To get the most from your location be sure to use its unique features, furniture and props to add character and context to your photos. Incorporate the surroundings to tell a story and create a sense of place. For the British Blanket Company’s Christmas shoot Helena Steele, Art Director for The Content Emporium, chose ‘Sublime Scandi – BA2’ because of its “beautiful scandi style, props and lots of natural light, which made it very easy to style”. They then brought in products and props that combined the “super-soft, woven blankets with natural textures of wood and rattan and metallic touches in votives and baubles to create a cosy, scandi look which feels authentic and welcoming”.
Shoot day is also where your shot list comes back out to ensure that you capture everything that you need during your time on location. Allocate specific time slots for different parts of the shoot, such as indoor and outdoor shots, wardrobe changes, and breaks. Sticking to a schedule will help to make the most of your time without rushing.
A location house is an additional investment, but it’s something that can instantly elevate your imagery. This is especially important at Christmas where the competition to create visually stunning, festive, and memorable content is greater than ever. We hope this has been a helpful guide to choosing and securing a location and getting the most from a location shoot. Please feel free to contact us if you need help finding the right space for your brand.
Written by Helen Holt & Tamaryn Balleny, co-founders of curated location platform, Styled Home Studios.
About Styled Home Studios
Styled Home Studios connects brands and creative professionals directly with the owners of uniquely styled homes for photoshoots, film and content creation. All of the handpicked locations can be booked at a set hourly rate and without the big agency fees, bringing a much needed level of transparency and flexibility to the location industry.