We’re big Lindsay Salazar fans here at Utah Style & Design. Her photography has been regularly published in our magazine, from an organic contemporary Fruit Heights home to Cara Fox’s lemon drop dream of a dining room. We’re not alone in loving Salazar’s work—she is a favorite of many Utah designers, and her shots have been featured in many local and national publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living and HGTV Magazine. We went behind the lens with Lindsay to talk about her career origins, artistic process and whether it’s more fun to photograph babies or bathrooms.
USD: How did you get started as an interior photographer?
I had been photographing families and newborns part-time for three years. Photography was more of a creative outlet than a career at that point. However, in 2014 I suddenly became a single mom and was now in a position where I needed to financially care for my four young children. Unfortunately, being a hobby photographer wasn’t going to be enough anymore. My sister was doing interior design at the time and asked me to shoot a few of her projects. I didn’t know the ins and outs of shooting homes, but I did a lot of Google searches, watched a lot of YouTube videos, and quickly learned the basics. I put these photo shoots on my website and within a few months I was shooting with one of the biggest design firms in Salt Lake City. I attribute my career with interior photography to a lot of hard work and a lot of luck!
USD: You also photograph families and newborns. How do you approach these shoots differently (or similarly) to interiors? What makes shooting interiors unique?
People often ask me if I prefer to shoot people or homes, and the answer is that I love the variety. I enjoy showing the emotion and connection between families, and at the same time, I love capturing a room that designers have spent months bringing to life. Shooting interiors is unique because the attention to detail has to be spot on and there is a lot more technique involved. Before I shoot a room, I make sure the drapes are even, the pillows are fluffed, the rug is lying flat, the lamp shades are straight, the cords are hidden, etc. Then, when I take the photo, I ensure that the lines are perfectly straight and that the exposure accommodates all of the different lighting scenarios happening in the room. Shooting interiors is a challenge and that’s why I enjoy it!
USD: Do you have a favorite or most memorable project?
The first time the Wall Street Journal commissioned me to do a photo shoot for them was one of the highlights of my career. I couldn’t believe they sought me out! There was a Wall Street Journal reporter there with me during the shoot, interviewing the homeowner while I took photos. That photo shoot made me realize that my once part-time hobby had become a career, and it was a career that I was proud of. Since then, I’ve done several shoots with the Wall Street Journal, and each time it’s surreal to get the paper delivered to my front porch and see my photos printed there.
USD: Take us through what steps you take on a typical shoot. How do you prepare beforehand? Is there a normal routine you follow on the day of?
The most important step is to communicate with the designers (or whoever has hired me to photograph the home). I like to walk through the home with the designers at the beginning of the shoot and have them point out elements that are important, like an original piece of artwork or a dresser they designed and had made. In addition, I tether the images to my iPad as I’m shooting so that the designers can see the photos as I’m taking them. This is key because a room looks so different in 2D than it does in real life, and this gives the designers a chance to make adjustments as we go and leave the shoot knowing we got the perfect shots!
USD: What is it like to see your photos published in a magazine?
Seeing my work published in a magazine feels like being a kid on Christmas morning! I pour my heart and soul into not only taking great photos, but then editing the photos to look their best, which can take hours. It’s so fun to be at the grocery store, pick up one of my favorite magazines, and see my photos printed in it. To see my hard work recognized and shared is amazing!
USD: Do you have any pointers for designers on how to prep their rooms for a shoot?
I encourage designers to take photos of the room before the shoot, even if it’s just with their phone, so they can see the room in 2D and know what adjustments they want to make. I also suggest that they bring plenty of extra accessories (books, pillows, fresh flowers, etc.) so they have options and can switch things up if necessary. The designer will see the images as I’m tethering and will often feel like a different color pillow, for example, would be better in the space. If they have backup options to choose from, it gives them some flexibility.
USD: What are your favorite spaces to shoot?
I love to shoot kitchens because they are the heart of the home! Usually homeowners (and designers) spend the most time and money in the kitchen, so it’s important to capture all that hard work. The kitchen also takes the longest to shoot, so I like to start with the kitchen before everyone tires out! The other spot I love to shoot is kids’ bedrooms. I love colors, patterns and textures, and these most often make an appearance in kids’ rooms.
USD: What equipment do you use?
I am constantly updating my equipment and looking for new pieces I can add to stay current and improve my photography. I use Canon camera bodies and lenses, and I just added some new lighting equipment. Most interior photographers use a tripod, but I like the freedom of being able to move around, so I hardly ever use a tripod. I also bring a bag that feels bottomless because it’s so full of things that often come in handy, like a steamer, command strips, gorilla tape and a level.
USD: What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is definitely the people I get to work with! Being a photographer can be a lonely profession because I am mostly a one-woman show, but interacting with the family or the designer at the shoot makes up for the hours I spend in front of the computer editing and listening to podcasts by myself! I’ve met amazing, creative people, and a lot of them have turned into friends, and for that I am so grateful!
All photos by Lindsay Salazar.