Am I Crazy?

April 9, 2008

Here’s a thought to consider and if you can, please share your views. I can decorate and even style a bookcase better when I photograph it and work from there. Sure, I can stand in a room and give ideas, but once I execute my vision, I use a camera to pull together the space and add the finishing touches. For some reason I see the flaws through my camera lens that I don’t notice by standing in the space. Does anyone out there do better work after viewing a room through the lens of a camera?

Am I Crazy?
My digital camera and I are besties. Heather Moore mentioned something on this topic over at Elle Decoration in South Africa (blog) a few days ago that made me feel less crazy for doing this. What do you think? Nuts or normal?

(photo by holly becker taken in a montreal b&b, 2006)


  • Reply Andrea April 9, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Not crazy! I totally do this and it makes a huge difference.

  • Reply Dianna April 9, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    totally normal. the same is true when you photograph an outfit vs. looking in the mirror.

  • Reply Barbara April 9, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Doesn’t sound crazy. For instance, being in the room in the B & B that cord probably wouldn’t bother me until I saw it through the lens, then I’d HAVE to tuck it behind the dresser.

  • Reply mandco April 9, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Me too! :-) When looking through a lense I’m more able to consentrate on the subject, and get a better feel for the composition….

  • Reply Jane April 9, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Funnily enough I was thinking the exact same thing this week. I just got a new camera, and was trying it out by taking pictures randomly around my home; I noticed all sorts of things that had never caught my eye while living there! Seems to make anything out-of-place become more glaringly obvious.
    (Don’t think I’ve commented before so probably count as a lurker…Hello! Love the blog.)

  • Reply Kristi @ Addicted*2*Decor April 9, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Not crazy. I do this with every project I work on. I even wrote a post about it a few months back.

  • Reply Anonymous April 9, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Absolutely normal! After working on photo shoots for nearly 10 years I’ve learned just how different things look through the camera lens! Its a great lesson to learn.

  • Reply lizziebelle April 9, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    i bring my camera everywhere and take pictures of everything. not crazy.

  • Reply Michaele April 9, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Normal, even for us non-designers! And I don’t just photograph my home- I’ll take photos of my latest crafting endeavor, or even of outfits that I or my daughter try on at the mall. Somehow, when I’m looking at my home, my creations, or fashions I’m contemplating with merely my own eye, I miss things. When I photograph them and look at them again, it’s as if I’m seeing things as other people would. Nope, that art arrangement on the wall isn’t coherant, hey, there’s a loose bit of tulle hanging off my latest wreath, and yes, those jeans DO make my butt look big! Always good things to notice (especially the jeans BEFORE I’ve forked over $70+!)!

  • Reply Anonymous April 9, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    makes sense. people learn to draw and paint from photographs too. It’s easier to see the asethetics when the image is flattened, and your brain isn’t processing the functionality of the objects.

  • Reply zee April 9, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I mentioned on Homebug just today that I do this! Now THAT’S crazy! As I said in the post “I’m forever taking pictures of parts of our home, as I find reviewing images rather than considering one overwhelming, problematic space helps to pinpoint what needs work or ‘editing’.” I knew I wasn’t alone!

  • Reply decor8 April 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Zee that is great, I have to pop over and read your blog to see what your readers have to say on this topic. I’m curious to know. Can I have your URL because your “zee” name hyperlinked above doesn’t seem to allow me to click out. Thanks!!

  • Reply simply seleta April 9, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    I once read that the best way to determine proper scale is to photograph the area just designed. So, you’re not crazy, you’re brilliant!

    The camera doesn’t lie and it helps you see where to tweak and adjust. I should use this technique more often. Thanks for reminder!

  • Reply Hammocks & High Tea April 9, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I did prop styling for a year or so and we always fixed the “image” after we had a polaroid taken. I think the eye can focus better when the shot is composed in a small square space.

  • Reply carrie April 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I used to do this all the time when I worked as a merchandiser! Sometimes it’s the only way to really “see” things.

    As a graphic designer, I still do something similar – I always export a project I’m working on as a PDF and view it in a different program. For me, it removes the image from “work in progress” to “work in review” even though I’m viewing it on the same darn computer…

  • Reply zee April 9, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Hey Holly, my URL is !

  • Reply Erin Lang Norris April 9, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Totally normal! I just did this the other day, actually. It really helped me narrow down my list of rugs that I’m trying to choose from. I think it’s just a lot easier to focus on the small, still area rather than something that consumes you.

  • Reply Anonymous April 9, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    …just did the same this week with the exterior of our house (for listing it). noticed a scew blind here, and my sewing machine through the window there…funny how that works…, that means ‘not crazy’, actually quite smart.

  • Reply muchacha K and SPEAKEASY BOUTIQUE April 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Absolutely a great tool/way of working…great for individual items too, because every little thing is brought into relief through the camera’s eye. It’s helped me refine my eye for “finishing” individual creations.

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente April 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Totally normal! I do this too…somehow if gives a different if not better perspective.

  • Reply Joana April 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Well after all these comments you probably figured out already that you are normal, not nuts. I often do that with my dolls… I photograph them and then go back to add another detail I though after looking at the photo or take something out that I did not notice at first. And that happens probably because we use images as inspiration, and everything gets to us in the image form, either if it is video or photo, so we are used to analyse images. (I absolutely love every IMAGE in your blog, and your comments are so helpful. Thank you).

  • Reply Zoe April 9, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Definitely normal. Its like having another pair of eyes see the project. Sometimes you can get too close and a new perspective can be the refreshing eyes that you need.

  • Reply Flavia April 9, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I can relate completely! I did not even notice I put the picture above my bed a bit too high until I saw a picture of it months later. Photos seem to give you an outsider perspective.

  • Reply Crev April 9, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Whoa, this totally happens to me too and I’m not a designer! I’ll work on a document all day at my computer, and not even see multiple little typos and odd details until I print it out for a review. In fact, the longer it is on my screen, the more likely I am to miss something.

    I have a theory about this–I think our eyes get used to seeing things in one “medium” (including physical space), and overlook smaller details. We just kind of glaze over stuff if we look at it in the same way too long. It takes moving to another medium to mix things up and reveal the previously-overlooked details…

    Thanks for posting this Holly! and btw, thanks for having this great blog! I check this site every single day; it’s like a jolt of prettiness that I have to have, before I can get back into my doc editing! Cheers!

  • Reply SuzyRenovator April 9, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    It’s a great way to see a room or design from a different perspective. When we’re in a room out eyes tend to try to take everything in, but there’s simply too much to see at once. Our eyes scan at a high speed. By taking a photograph we are essentially stopping time. We can then examine and identify all the little ‘oversights’ we missed in the physical observation.

    Of course, that’s just my theory!

  • Reply Mandy April 9, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    My camera is my third arm. I shoot mostly landscapes, not interiors, but I totally understand wanting to frame the scene and examine it second-hand. I think flattening my surroundings to 2D helps me better note the shadows and other tone issues.

  • Reply T8 April 9, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Do you find that you also notice things that you really like that you may have liked before but couldn’t articulate why?

    BTW, I love this blog.


  • Reply SimplyGrove April 10, 2008 at 12:12 am

    I love using my camera as my critic. It sometimes is the only one that is honest with me!!

  • Reply Mary Grace April 10, 2008 at 1:21 am

    You are seeing your home on a new scale. You are forced to look at it with fresh eyes.

    It’s almost like looking at a mirror image of you living room. Walk around your living room with a mirror. You will notice lots of things that you hadn’t noticed before!

    I am an interior designer, and I see my own home the way it would look if I had done all the things I plan on doing someday : ) Now that’ crazy!!

  • Reply Melissa Lewis-Off The Wall April 10, 2008 at 3:29 am

    No ma’am, not crazy at all. Just looking at the bigger picture through a different lens, no punt intended:)

  • Reply Heather Moore April 10, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Framing something makes all the difference. It’s incredible what you can get used to in the “bigger picture” of your home – we see a kind of landscape view rather than a vignette. I’ve certainly become better at curating little corners since looking at them through a camera!

    PS: so pleased to have you over at the Elle Deco SA blog!

  • Reply Alya April 10, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Everyone has their own way of looking at something and visualizing.
    Personally, I like to look at things in a 360 view, and imagining everything in my head. I never use my camera until I’m done with everything. But sometimes, I’ll rearrange some little things if they don’t look right in the photo, but it doesn’t mean it doesnt look right in real life.

  • Reply Elizabeth April 10, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I do this too – totally normal.

  • Reply emma ::emmas designblogg:: April 10, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    I can totally see how taking a photo can be very useful when you are working on a smaller area, like a vignette or a bookshelf, but for a whole room I think I prefer to be able to see it from all different angles, get a feel of how it works to move around in the space etc. But I will definitely try your technique next time I am working on something smaller. Thank you!

  • Reply Anny April 10, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    i don’t haven’t tried the camera approach, but i do know that when i print out my writings instead of reading them on the computer screen, i find much more errors! so that’s how i proofread.

    my theory? it’s prob the equivalent of stepping back and seeing the work in a different medium – a viewpoint other than how u normally see it – that lets u finally see the flaws!

    that’s quite a philosphical analogy we just made there!

    hope that gave u some insight :)

    love you’re blog. just found it today and adding it to my faves. keep plucking on!

  • Reply maja April 10, 2008 at 6:40 pm


    i think it’s that the rooms is “consolidated” into a 2D area it’s easier to see the composition. there is a book called ‘drawing on the right side of the brain’ that uses the technique of drawing copies of masterworks turned upside down. that way you can focus on the shapes and lines before you and not how you think it is “supposed to look”.

  • Reply Kimberly Y April 11, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I ran across this blog post after reading yours: In it Deb, who works on retail display among other things, recommends taking a picture of a set up in order to see things one wouldn’t notice without looking at a picture. Professionals agree: snap it! Smart, not crazy!

  • Reply dailydesignspot April 11, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    totally CRAZY!!! haha.. just had to do it.. i know what you mean… it is like you are putting the exact expression on the environment that you want for the photo.. it drives andrea crazy when i start making little changes to a shelf or something.. have a perfect weekend!!!

  • Reply Liz April 12, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Totally and utterly normal! I will re-arrange art on a wall and then photograph it to see if I really “got” it. I also photograph my own artwork in progress cuz it helps me to see the holes and/or the places I need to work on in a piece… Love the topic…

  • Reply Melissa @ The Inspired Room April 13, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I totally agree!

    Sometimes things can look acceptable in real life because you can get a feel for the room as a whole, so I try not to jump to conclusions based on photos, but for a bookcase or art wall, it really makes sense! Glad I’m not the only one!

  • Reply Washington Cube April 15, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I’m coming in late to this, but as you can see…not crazy at all. I hate to think how anal I really am when I started looking at those photographs and going, “Oh…fix that, that AND that…” Ditto to what others said about wardrobe and even art in progress. It’s a blessed second eye.

  • Reply Karyn February 9, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I get it!! Looking through the lens of the camera literally makes you focus!

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