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Behind the Scenes With an Interior Stylist

Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 in: Obsessed With

Ever wondered what it’s like behind the scenes of the photo shoots of those perfectly styled spreads you see in interior magazines and on fancy design blogs?

A few weeks ago I dropped by to take some behind-the-scenes shots of a photo shoot overseen by visual stylist and interior designer extraordinaire Kim Pearson at the iconic old Rose Hotel in North Fremantle, now The Rose Medical and Aesthetic Centre. If you live in Perth, chances are high you would have driven past this iconic old hotel - on Stirling Highway in between the Dingo Flour Mill and the bridges.

Kim's giant sequinned wall for The Beauty Bar was flown in from Europe. Photos by me.

Rose Hotel image from Mingor.

I’d visited this place before to review the day spa that used to occupy it. It's very different to how it was then. While the heritage listing of the build poses the obvious restrictions to its build fabric, now the 1920s hotel has been revamped with an intensive six month restoration and renovation designed by Rad Architecture and is home to a cutting-edge Aesthetic Medical Centre and other services.

Kim, who designed the interiors including the gorgeous Beauty Bar with sequinned feature wall (pictured above) was assisted on photo shoot day by super talented interior stylist Stephanie Blake (whose impressive resume includes working with Meghan Morton) and gorgeous Woodpiles and Wishbones interior stylist Emma Grace Hawtrey (dubbed Kate Middleton by Kim and if you look at the photos you can see why!) Kim was teaming up with superphotographer Jayga McMullen to shoot photos for one of the most up-to-the-second interiors blogs around, Jen Bishop’s Interiors Addict

I asked Kim to write about the day to tell us what a photo shoot is like from an interior stylist's point of view and she very happily obliged… and while I agree with Kim that photo shoots are not always as glamorous as they can look, for the record I did not notice the BB cream making its great escape.

Over to Kim...

“Maya invited to witness firsthand the often hectic, unattractively sweaty and entirely unglamorous behind-the-scenes day. This does not apply to Stephanie and Emma who remained beautiful, composed and daisy-fresh all day long. It does, however, apply most singularly to Kim. Any last vestiges of BB cream applied at 4.00am had slid down and off her face by 9.30am. And she still had five hours to go."

"Planning started several weeks in advance. The brief, styling, flowers, accessories, angles, photographers, availability, light, props, furniture, stakeholders, food, drink (to be shot vs. consumed) - all had to be considered, planned and accommodated. Organisation is key to a shoot running as smoothly as possible. The six “P”s (PPPPPP = prior planning prevents piss poor performance) applies here. But there are, of course, no guarantees.

"What does matter is that a photo shoot is intense, exhilarating, exhausting, challenging, exciting and nerve-wracking. And hard on your feet, veins and back. Lifting, packing, loading, sorting, carrying, ferrying, lugging, dragging, moving, removing, kneeling, crawling, climbing, cutting, hacking, sticking, painting, pinning, making, drawing, cleaning, sweeping, vaccuuming, wiping, fixing, sewing, tweaking, holding, covering, hanging, critiquing, conversing, discussing, debating, cooperating, building, dismantling, destroying, rebuilding, running, standing, standing, standing, arranging, picking, packing, loading, driving, unloading, collapsing. And eating Smarties. With coffee. And a really good lunch. With protein."

"We styled and shot three major areas that I designed – including the Beauty Bar with its incredible custom-made giant sequinned wall - paillettes (I just LOVE that the French have their own word for 'giant sequins'); the seminar and workshop room with its state-of-the-art AV and stunningly directional and chic Italian furnishings; and the old bar with its huge fireplace complete with roaring fire and full coffee and catering fitout for private events, lounging, clients and delegates to enjoy. Jayga is brilliant with her first-hand experience as an international model and portrait and event photographer."

"A photo shoot is undeniably a team effort. Takes an amazing amount of time however, costs are high, so everyone needs to maintain intensity and excellence. It's a science - part experience, part knowledge, part instinct, part alchemy. And hard work. Really, really hard. So much is gut and feeling. I look for the tingles, the hair-standing-on-end moments. And trust - in yourself and your team is so vital - your photographer is paramount.

"And then there's the photo editing. But that's another story...”

Thanks Kim! x


Interior design, production and styling:

Kim Pearson, Interior Designer & Visual Stylist


The iconic old Rose Hotel in North Fremantle, now The Rose Medical and Aesthetic Centre


Beauty Bar @ the Rose; Seminar and Workshop Space; and Private Events and Functions Gallery including Coffee @ the Rose

Assistant Stylists:

Stephanie Blake and Emma Grace Hawtrey


Rad Architecture

Professional Photography:

Jayga McMullen

Dodgy Behind-the-Scenes Photography


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