Style Book Sneak Peek

Our house is pretty much done (besides the bathrooms and landscaping) so we are on to the next project, jumping back into shooting the book. To say that this book is a lot of work would be like saying that Beyonce is a good performer – it’s just pretty much the understatement of the year. Its one of those things that if you don’t do it right, you are kinda just wasting resources because lets face it, you don’t do it to get rich. Why do you do it then? Because it’s basically just a really amazing, important and expensive business card that furthers lots of other career opportunities.

Thank god I have a ton of help (I’m talking to you, Scott and Angelin) … and thank god I love to style.


I don’t want to (nor can i legally) show too much, but I figured a little tease couldn’t hurt. So far we’ve shot at my friend Scott’s house, our friend Jay’s house, interior design Sally Breer’s home and today and tomorrow at the store Amsterdam Modern’s store owner, Ellen Compte’s home. David Tsay is shooting the whole book who is pretty much the best interior photographer in LA, and Scott, one of my best friends and an amazing stylist, is helping me style is so that we can get as many shots as possible in each day.

I’m getting insane house jealousy shooting this book. My goal is that every house and every shot should be inspiring in some way. It’s actually a lot more difficult than you think. In a normal magazine spread its easy to have a few shots that are beautiful and then a few detail shots that run smaller on the page because maybe they aren’t incredible. So it’s just hard, y’all, but such an exercise in styling/art direction and discipline. Every shot I have to ask myself ‘what are we learning/teaching from this shot?’ Its not just about being pretty, it needs to be teachable because just saying ‘buy beautiful expensive art!’ is not actually a tip.

Off to work on tomorrow’s shot list (and don’t forget to follow along on Instagram).

  1. Lauren

    I’ll buy one. I’m in just based on those six photos. Initially I found it so charming that you were from a coastal town in OR. Then I worried that you were a Beavers fan. Fortunately, my worries were unfounded!

  2. I am so excited about this! You are going to KILL it! And then I will buy it and be eternally happy/sad that I can’t live in homes beautiful and unique enough to make the cut in the book!

  3. I LOVE to see your insta photos as you’re putting together this book! Can’t wait to add it to my coffee table once its in print!

  4. Lauren

    Also, because of your blog, I might actually paint my living room white (or at least a very very light color). I just don’t know if the room gets enough light.

  5. There is a question that has been percolating in my head for some time now after reading blogger’s experiences of magazine shoots and so on. If these homes all have to be styled before the photo is taken then none of the photos are real it seems to me. So, what is the inspiration to be taken away from that? That we should be constantly styling our homes? I am not trying to be negative at all but if none of us actually live that way why are we all ogling styled images? Just a thought and I would love to hear your opinion on it.

    • Emily

      Totally understandable. I think that styling (which is the final layer) is easy to mess up, easy to not prioritize and frankly a lot of people are out of money after designing their home to really accessorize properly. And then in a lot of cases styling also means composing the pieces in the room to look good to the camera because just taking a photo will inevitably not look good because pieces will be in front of other pieces, etc. Its all about infusing personality into the space/shot and most of these homes have SO much style/personality so we aren’t really bringing very much in (besides flowers/plants and food props) but you can’t just send a photographer alone. I think its a really great question, though, and one that I talk about in the book!

      • Ah, that makes more sense to me! I was getting really confused what ‘styling’ was really all about. I was imagining you coming in with a bunch of props that aren’t the owners. Moving things around to make a photo read better makes much more sense. Thanks for answering. :)

  6. Christelle

    If you want a change of scenery for your book and come here in France style and shoot my house that’s totally fine with me lol if only I was richer…

  7. I had the same question as Catherine, and am glad Emily replied. It just seems that life gets in the way of any styling I try to do. I place pretty pillows on the couch and my husband tosses them aside. I put a vase with flowers on the coffee table and they are pushed aside to make room for feet! Anyway, I keep trying and I always devour every post for ideas and inspiration. Also, I’m yearning to paint all the walls in my house a bright white and bring in pops of color with accessories, but I’m sure my husband would nix the idea :/ Thanks for all your hard work and for bringing beautiful images to us regularly.

    • Miki Novak Strom

      This made me laugh because it is exactly my experience! Every time I try to “style”, my real life and family get in the way! So it is an excellent question that Catherine asked. And I am still trying to figure out how to do both – beauty and function – but it is hard. One thing I think we all do is train out eye to look at the details in Emily’s photos to see the “why” behind each placement – not just admire the whole. And in those details I find something that I can use in my own home. Anyway, the styling makes me happy even when it’s not particularly appreciated by everyone else. It’s a true form of creative expression and I guess we can’t expect everyone love it as much as we do.

  8. Lesley

    Re: Catherine’s comment….I think styled photos “help” real life…I take the styling of a photo and use it…I use styled photos to decide what throw pillows I like, photos of grouped art to decide how to hang my pictures and styled book cases to decide how to stack my book case. But I hate clutter so if you were to then photograph my home it would look totally different (kinda dull) compared to a styled shot. Inspirational photos have to smash you in the face with lots of eye candy because its only a photo…our homes don’t because we are emersed in them. Its not about copying a shot but having the idea sink in and use it in a real way….

  9. Jihane

    I can’t wait to buy/read/admire the book!!! Really, it will be so cool to have a piece of you in my home (in a non creepy way :) ).
    I understand it was hard to get ispiring shots but did you find it hard to find homes that you love?

  10. Alison

    This is VERY exciting!! What is your expected publication date??

  11. suz

    If this teaser is anything like what’s coming, I’m sooo excited.

  12. Lisa

    Can’t wait to purchase your expensive business card! I’m writing an expensive business card too…so I totally understand.

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  14. Amanda

    Yah, Emily, we need the book. Like now. That hanging bookshelf in the top right picture. Is it commercially available? I need it for the last wall in my condo that is desperately begging for a life. Looks like wood.??

  15. Katie

    I really enjoyed reading about where your mind is at with content creation for this book (creating solid teaching moments vs. just a pretty vignette). Further along those lines, I’d love to hear about the behind the scenes journey to how this book came about. Did you have to pitch and knock down door after door with different publishing houses? Did they seek you out? It’d be refreshing to see a post about your path to publishing, however easy or difficult it may have been!

    • Emily

      Will do. Thats a great idea. Maybe after the book is published i’ll post about the original proposal and how much it changed for the better.

  16. Mika

    Can’t. Wait. Yay!

  17. Carrie

    I want all of that amazing Nemadji Pottery in the top middle photo!

  18. jennie

    I’m sure it will be an excellent book because you are an excellent teacher and you always put 100+ percent into everything you do. It will be so nice to see lots of color and different homeowners’ personalities included. I’d also love to see shots of rooms from different angles so we can get a true sense of the spaces. So many design books are boring because they are too much about one designer’s style and don’t have enough variety. Other books may show lots of variety but are frustrating because they only give you one partial shot of each space and then jump to the next home. They don’t have enough continuity and flow. Your approach sounds like a lot more work, but the result will be much better.

  19. Love the emphasis on teachability and look forward to getting my hands on the book! Would love to see how you think about spaces that don’t have ideal bones/natural light, too.

  20. I have furniture envy from those pics. Can I marry a MCM credenza?

  21. Looking forward to it…I really like your energy. :)

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