SCW Interiors

Life of Shaz Life Hacks

Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors, an Alexandria, Virginia based interior design firm, provides simple solutions to creating a beautiful home and life.


Frances Bailey, Producer; Lesley Unruh, Photographer; Suzy Sadler, Photo Assistant

Frances Bailey, Producer; Lesley Unruh, Photographer; Suzy Sadler, Photo Assistant

This month, we are photographing some of my favorite projects SCW Interiors has been working on.  I have been blessed through the years to work with some of the most amazing talent in the photography and styling industry.  I realize the process of photographing a home is very much a mystery to most people.  While many may never photograph their homes, I do think it is important to understand the painstaking detail and work that goes into producing just one image of a beautiful room.  It may surprise you to know that during the average photoshoot there will be approximately 10 images that are produced in one 9-10 hour workday.  This does not include the post-production work that goes into perfecting the images digitally, which can take days.  Today on Life Hacks I am sharing a behind the scenes look at a week spent with an incredible team styling and photographing this favorite project.  So many life hacks are applicable in other areas of life, so I hope you can use some of these tried and true tips for styling your own home.

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Before walking onto any photoshoot, I produce a wish list of shots I would like to get inside the home. This list, fittingly so, is called the ‘shot list.’  It is the starting point for helping the photographer understand what details and ideas are important to me.  Shooting editorial versus shooting for your portfolio is very different, so it is important to capture things that I feel convey the spirit of our work.

Here is the shot list with notes the stylist and I shared back and forth.

Here is the shot list with notes the stylist and I shared back and forth.

The shot list also includes a sub list of all the props we will need to properly stage a shoot.  To give you some perspective, the shot list including the props list was over 20 pages long!  This list includes staging items such as china, table linens, crystal, types of flowers and food props.  So begins the process of procuring and packing up all of the items we will need to produce magical pictures.

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005 - Flowers.jpg
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007 - Kitchen Clutter.jpg

In a nutshell, I am a Sherpa who moves a mountain of things to make sure we have everything we might possibly need.  When I am fortunate enough to hire a stylist to prep flowers, etc., they too bring bags of their own hat tricks: steamers, floral tape, pins for pinning bed pillows closed, and so on. We bring enough props to style two homes on most shoots in order to avoid any duplication of the same vessel or container in the spaces. This is called migrating props and a great stylist/producer NEVER allows this to happen.

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Oh, and then there are more bags of equipment from the photographer; it is like moving into a small home.

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010 - Photographer Stuff.jpg

Two days prior to the photographer arriving, my stylist and myself run around taking pictures of how things are placed in the home so we can put them all back when we are finished with the photoshoot.


We also rearrange pillows, vignettes, set tables with china, arrange flowers, make A LOT of beds and try to insert a lot of laughter in between.

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012 - Making the Bed.jpg
013 - Flowers.jpg

On this shoot, I clearly did not count correctly because I forgot two crystal stems and a dinner plate!

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This is the beauty of digital photography…THEY CAN MOVE THE MISSING ITEMS IN THE PICTURE!!!!! That is right; today one can take a crystal stem on the table and duplicate where I miscounted.  Phew!

What people don’t realize about photography is that everything on the periphery of the image is a hot mess of movement, lighting tools, tossed flowers and palm fronds and bags upon bags upon bags of miscellany.

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019 - Tossed Palm Frond.jpg

Often, the photographer is balancing on a precarious piece of furniture that we DO NOT WANT the client to see.  Getting into tight corners or hovering over a coffee table for a great aerial takes real talent and strategic placement. 

The most interesting thing today about photography is that the photographer will often take a dozen pictures of the same frame with different tools to bounce light in different directions.  Then, the most amazing part is when they merge various portions of the image to get the best quality of every facet we are trying to capture.

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This is often referred to as “shooting brackets.”

The post-production is often just as important as the work in the field to correct cropping and edit out any unsightly outlets, wires, and in this case, a yard that is covered in snow. 

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Over the last few years, lighting has changed so drastically with technology that photographers often shoot a color card to make sure that any enhancements will be colored correctly.

Color Card.jpg

All in all, photographing a home is a monumental task and truly an art.  I am so incredibly grateful for the brilliant people who make the images come to life.  When I am not running and tucking things into the sidebar of a shoot, I like to cook for my teams.  This has definitely been a fun week preparing meals for my gals in a favorite kitchen.  So fun, in fact, that I took a few pics of what I was preparing because the light was just so good.

Food Pic.jpg
Food Pic1.jpg

The best part of a week spent on a photoshoot is not just the finished product, but the memories made. I truly will not forget the funny stories shared while breaking bread, the gut-wrenching laughs of my team scaring me with a kangaroo in the shower and more than just a few moments where I stood still in a space and felt really good about my job in helping people live their best lives.