For a gallery of photos from the shoot featured in this story, click here.

Seeing a home photographed and published in a magazine represents the journey of how it came to be. Dedication and hard work is visible in every shot. The homeowners feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when seeing their home captured in still frame and put down on paper to be passed down through family and viewed nationwide. It is a tribute to a goal that was met.

When the Claytons (owners of the home pictured) were asked if their home could be used for a photo shoot, they didn’t think twice. The couple was very warm, hospitable and willing to share their home with the camera crew. But with any home that is to be photographed, there are many things to do beforehand.

The homeowners should be willing to take an extra effort to make their home spotless. The styling of the furniture and decorations need to be appealing for the viewers. No one knows about the styling and photography process more than Debra and Roger Wade.

Roger and Debra first met in late 1990 when she called on him while working for a pre-press film shop in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She sold color separations, prepared films for print media, etc. Their clientele included print shops and design agencies.  At that time, Roger was doing graphic design along with his photography, sort of a full service photography/design studio and printing broker. A mutual client, based in Missoula, Montana, suggested Debra call on him.

“I got his business after the very first time I visited him with our portfolio! I have always been a pesky sales person!” Debra said. Roger was a client of Debra’s for about a year or so, and then they started dating long distance, with mad dashes back and forth between Montana and Idaho on the weekends. The couple dated for a year or so, then married in the summer of 1993. Their 20 year anniversary is coming up in July.

At that time Debra became part of Roger Wade Studio, again taking up the role of sales and marketing. “We were doing all sorts of photography then, including architectural photography. But that end of the business really started picking up, especially with the marketing I was putting into it, traveling with our portfolio all over the state and down into Wyoming, and Idaho,” said Debra. Before long there was such a demand for our photography that they set all other types of photography aside, it became too difficult to try to schedule architectural shoots in the region and still take care of clients wanting product photography or portraiture.

Roger’s first log home documentation was for Rustics, a log home producer right here in the Swan Valley, where they live. At that time Roger was newly located to the Swan Valley as a permanent resident and needed work to support his wife and very young daughter. He had not started up his own company at that point (back in 1985). He went to work at Rustics peeling logs. They were a handcrafted log home company. It was in the winter and his first day on the job he was peeling 2 inches of ice off knot laden spruce, it was painful. Roger got paid by the foot and he made $17 for the entire day. That is all it took for him to decide to start his own photography business.

He had worked for other photographers in New York City, including AV work for his father, who owned Roger Wade Productions in Manhattan. So he pretty much knew the ropes of the business. “He figured it had to be worth a try, better than peeling logs in the dead of winter! He has great admiration for the strong and hardy folks who do that for a living!

“In terms of what makes photographing a house memorable, it is foremost the homeowners, they are the life and breath of a home. Every home is special in its unique design/build characteristics, but it is the owners, hands down, that make the experience of photographing a home so enjoyable. Another wonderful thing about shooting log and timber frame homes, is that they are generally situated in rural areas. Roger and I have traveled the entire country and seen the most gorgeous scenery throughout this land, we feel very fortunate that we have had that opportunity,” added Debra.

In Debra’s opinion, magazines are looking for an attractive home, as always, to feature, with pulled together elements of design, materials, environmental setting, all of those things. But they are also looking for something out of the box, with a good story. She also said that they are mostly wanting to feature homes that will be interesting to readers, so the homeowners stories are definitely a huge aspect of what makes the cut in terms of magazine editors picking and choosing projects.

“I am not an expert in terms of describing what makes a story interesting to read, in that I am not an editor, so to speak. But I have been writing stories for five years now and what I aim to provide to readers, personally hoping they will find the story interesting, is  the process of locating property, choosing a builder, describing the process from design to completion, inquiring about particular challenges along the way, both tangible and emotional, those sorts of things. I have the good fortune of being able to write stories about homes that we have photographed, so I get to know the homeowners and experience the house itself! A real plus in terms of being able to share a sense of “being there” to readers. I believe my best stories are the ones that include a lot of information delivered to me by the owners, making it THEIR story, not so much mine.”

“I also strive to involve all of the principal parties involved in the shoot…. the designer, log home company, general contractor, landscaper, interior designer, etc. I like to include them to round out the story and deliver a story about collaboration and teamwork,” said Debra.

She has been a photography stylist for about 18 years. In depth, Debra styles the room for the camera to help the photographer create an image that will inspire the viewer. Her personal style is that “less is more.”  Here are some tips on how she styles and gets rooms ready for a photo shoot.

Use of color: Debra believes color is essential for well being. She likes to bring elements of color into every photo. Many log homes are photographed with a warm but neutral pallet to blend with the earthy tones of the wood. Debra feels that it is important to accent the neutral with splashes of bright, bold color to add contrast to the wood tones.

Creating comfort: “What should our homes be if not comfortable. Comfort, calm and serenity, pleasure and relaxation are the feelings I strive to elicit in a room. Pillows and throws provide an opt to interject color into a room.” Debra said. One of her more challenging aspects of styling a home is what to do with the collectables. She says to display your collection items in a manner they deserve, in their own space and set apart from the other accessories. Her favorite styling and life enhancing accessories are flowers. She believes they are essential to styling a home. Placemats are also high on her list of favorite home accessories. In her opinion, you can never have too many dishes, napkins or placemats.

Outdoor shooting: “When documenting a home with photography, generally the shots are interior, but the exterior shots are extremely important as well, and so is the styling of these outdoor spaces. Make the space inviting and a reflection of your persona lifestyle. When I’m styling an outdoor space, the same essential ingredients for interiors apply to exteriors,” according to Debra.
She feels that our home, our shelter, right up there with food and water, is one of the elements necessary for our survival, our life. Life itself is a virtual feast to be enjoyed to the fullest extent possible.

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