Photographing for Contests

Kaye Christiansen Englert, FASID, NCIDQ, CAPS (Design Plus, Inc., Salt Lake City) just shared a link with me of a photo from her contest entry on the cover of Kitchen & Bath Design News. This is an opportunity to discuss a specialty type of photography—photographing for contest entries. There is a specific approach, so clients get the best results if they advise a photographer of plans to enter the project in competitions. That way clients get the images needed to support the narrative of the design and selections. 

This remodel tackled an entry in the 1993 Parade of Homes. The previous kitchen was dark, it had a dropped ceiling that compressed the space, and a half wall cut it off from the adjacent family room. Kaye’s approach created a sleek wooden cabinet wall on one side and a white, light and airy side with an enlarged window over the sink. The island bridges the two different color tones: one side had the same walnut as the cabinets, and the wood also trims the exhaust fan assembly over the cook top. 

The photo above is a vertical of the same view. Rooms are essentially long rectangular spaces, and photograph well horizontally. However, recognizing that it could appear as a magazine cover, I photographed it vertically leaving negative white space above and below for copy. 

Photographing for contests
Photo by Scot Zimmerman

This vertical gives another cover option with increased space for titles and copy. 

Photographing for contests
Photo by Scot Zimmerman

Knowing that the new window would be in the contest narrative, I composed this shot of the white cabinet site of the kitchen. Because it would be scrutinized for design elements, I made certain the composition adequately showed the countertop stone, the refrigerator door to the left, the backsplash and sink, and a hint of the ventilation assembly over the island. Kaye styled the space so that nothing distracted from the view to the elements, and the team scrutinized it for cords, leaves fallen from the plants, or any other issue that would detract from the design. A contest entry for kitchen appliances would not cut off an appliance in this way; I would compose the photo very differently for that type of contest.  

Photo by Scot Zimmerman

This view shows the very clean installation of the vent over the cooktop. It also supports the discussion that the redesign removed a dropped ceiling with fluorescent lighting and relocated the plumbing. 

Photographing for contests
Photo by Scot Zimmerman

The angled island directs foot traffic and efficiently uses all the space while it defines the work area versus the space for socializing. 

The juxtaposition of closed and open cabinets dramatically shows both how clean the wooden cabinet wall appears and how much efficient storage is available. We photographed all the cabinets along the wall in this way, which included a unique baking center. Again, the team rearranged the items so that nothing distracted from the cabinet design. 

I’ll leave you with a final thought. Most teams of judges are looking for faults and problems to disqualify an entry and narrow down the list. The job of the photo team is to catch any problem or visual confusion so that the project can stand on its merits and not be eliminated because of a photo issue. 


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