kathrynaxelSince the late 1970’s, Kathryn Long has enjoyed a considerable amount of interest from magazines and design publications, ranging from the regional press to nationally circulated periodicals. Her exceptional work and creativity, her significant regional reputation, as well her easy rapport with writers and photographers, ensure regular interest from editors and publishers.

In the coming months, two large photo spreads are slated to appear in regional publications, following a story that ran in the Spring 2008 issue of Carolina Home, and a profile of Kathryn’s own house in the January 2008 WNC Magazine.

Striking interior photographs are born out of a number of controlled factors—lighting, art direction, and a comparative absence of the quotidian clutter that often defines our living spaces. That said, the steps Kathryn and her team take to prepare a space for a photo shoot may be replicated on a smaller scale. A celebrity home is really all about the accessories. The key to making your home magazine-worthy is the details.


Preparing a home for a photo shoot is no simple operation. It can take several days to stage a simple shot. Weather and the season can be a factor as far as light is concerned.

For days before a shoot, Kathryn and her staff collect various items to enliven a space. Sometimes these are pulled from the closets and shelves of the client’s own home. “You don’t realize what you have.” says Kathryn. “This is true even of me.


“When WNC Magazine shot my home for their January (08) edition, I ended up pulling a collection of vases I’d consigned to cabinets to accessorize the top of my dining room table.”

Establishing the client’s personal taste and style is key. These reflect the personality of the owner. “Almost anything collectible can be used to add personality and dimension to a room.”


A great photograph is often reliant on the quality of light in a space. Unfortunately nature enjoys a role as an often-unwelcome lighting director. “We shot one home on a very foggy day,” says Long, “and though the exterior shots were not as good as we hoped, the interior pictures turned out beautifully.”

Lamps can provide extra ambiance to dark corners as well as tone down the sometimes harsh quality of overhead lights. This provides contrast and warmth—key factors in making a space seem more livable.

Additionally color is of supreme importance. When Ambiance stages a photo shoot, they are apt to bring lots of fresh flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables, as well as, occasionally, an entire plate of food.

“When we shot Tom and Toni Oreck’s house (to be published in the summer of '09), we brought in baskets of brilliant red geraniums, fresh fruit, cheese plates, and a whole collection of antique books,” says Kathryn. “these items were never the focal point of the shot, but added depth to the surrounding space.”

Note: The architect for the Oreck’s home was Platt Architecture, Brevard, NC.

Click here to see more images of the Oreck home photo shoot.


Establish a focal point. “Every room has a natural center,” says Kathryn. “At Mary and Jerry Whitaker’s home (featured in the Late Fall 2008 issue of Mountain Homes)*, it was their fireplace. The Ambiance team used Mary’s collection of stone pottery to accessorize the mantel, as well as her superior collection of art.”

“It’s all about establishing a visual connection. Having a grand or unique physical space is only part of the equation. The details draw you in, and it’s often the final detail that separates the good from the truly exceptional.”


No matter how much you prepare for a photo shoot there can be issues working against you. The day of the Whitaker shoot, Kathryn was sick, and entrusted the process to the capable hands of Linda Constable and Amanda Holland. Their combined experience and professionalism allowed them to create a warm and friendly atmosphere, despite the cold and icy weather.

“I feel extremely lucky to work with such talented people,” says Kathryn. “Conditions aren’t always ideal—the photographer had to come back another day for exterior shots—but the remarkable photos that resulted are proof of a job well done.”

Note: The architect for the Whitaker’s home was Platt Architecture, Brevard, NC.
*Available at Books a Million, Barnes & Noble and Kroger.

Click here to see more images of the Whitaker home photo shoot.

  In this Issue  

The Process
Color and Light
Focal Point
Photo Shoot Worthy

How to make your own home Celebrity Photo Shoot Worthy.

Is your home a quaint, rustic cottage or something more opulent? A bohemian salon or a quiet haven? Different homes have different personalities (sometimes more than one at once.) Pick your flavor and let the space reflect it. Don’t strive for absolute perfection. Sometimes tiny flaws make a shot memorable.

Scale and Proportion
Think realistically about what you’re working with. Delicate pieces are often swamped in lofty spaces, just as large pieces (no matter how elegant) may appear out of scale in a tiny room.

Use pieces that mean something to you.
Most people collect things—dishes, glassware, art, quilts, photographs, family linens, baskets, vintage purses—and there’s a reason why they do. It’s not just an accident that you have five shelves of McCoy vases. They mean something to you. When you’re looking to fill in space, use the things that are important to you.

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  Contact Information  

Kathryn Long, ASID
Linda Constable
Wayne Caldwell

27 Broadway,
Asheville, NC



Life is too short not to be comfortable.