Getting personal with photography

One of the most important things I strive for when designing any interior space is to have a beautifully designed and functioning room but I also want the home to reflect my client’s unique personality. Often times I look to accomplish this by reusing or re-purposing  beloved family heirlooms, art work, or by displaying a collection that is meaningful to the homeowners. 

Sometimes though, there are no family heirlooms or meaningful collections to work with. In this case, one thing I like to do for my clients is to create something special for them using my photography skills. Today I want to share three different photography projects I did that were very meaningful for my clients yet all three were very simply executed, and might give you an idea for a project in your home.

The first photography project I did was actually for my very first “big” design job back in 2012. I was only about nine months into my business and I was hired to completely furnish a condo for a recently divorced man who was literally bring nothing but his clothes. The dining area of the condo was part of the kitchen and the homeowner had very specific requirements for a dinning table. It had to be of a certain length and width 99% of the time but twice a year had to expand to accommodate a large crowd. After searching for WAY longer than I should have, I finally convinced him we needed to have the table custom made. 

This is where the story gets interesting…and quite long. The short version though is that the furniture maker sourced the wood from the old Birds Eye Freezer factory in Gloucester Ma. This is the very place where flash freezing was invented and produced America’s first frozen vegetables. The factory had been abandoned since the late 40’s and was only weeks away from being raised to make way for a new boutique hotel. The completely freaky part of this story is that unbeknownst to either myself or the furniture maker was that my client had an ancestor who had worked in the factory back in the 1930’s. 

Linda Holt Photo

So, the table shown above sits in a condo by the sea and is made from the wood which once lined the freezer of the Birds Eye Freezer Company (aluminum was eventually used and the wood freezer became obsolete. Here’s where the photography part comes in. Shortly before they knocked the building down I took a series of photos of the decaying factory and chose three to frame and hang next to the table. (I also gave him several unframed ones as well.)

At the time I had no idea I would one day be writing a blog about this so unfortunately I don’t have a better image of the photos themselves. I can report that my client was very moved by my surprise.  He found it so meaningful to own a table made from the wood of such an historic factory, that an ancestor had worked in, and that next to the table are photos of the factory itself…Cool right??

My next photography project was just recently completed. On my first meeting to discuss a new client’s project, the husband pulled out these six books. He said he didn’t know how or if I could incorporate the books into my design but his recently deceased dad was a well known Indian author and had written the series. These kind of family items are gold to me. I placed them all directly on the existing black leather sofa and took a quick iphone photo. These treasured books became the inspiration for my entire design. The colors drove my color scheme and although the books were only small paper back sized, I knew I wanted to bring them to prominence and give them a place of honor in my client’s home.

Client’s book collection written by his dad

Once my design plan was approved, I asked to borrow the set of books. I  took a photo of each book on a white back ground (white construction paper) and had them blown up by one of my favorite companies called Fracture. Fracture prints photos directly on glass and they arrive ready to hang. I enlarged them to a 20″ x 16″ size and the day of the install hung them on a tall thin wall just off the entry. Boy were my client’s both surprised and thrilled!

Fracture glass photos

Photo by Emily O’Brien Photography

My final example is not yet installed so I don’t want to give too much away but I am working with an awesome client/friend on her “piano lounge”. I asked her to give me several of her absolute favorite and most meaningful sheet music cover pages. This is one that she chose as being very meaningful. I especially like the hand written notations as it makes the piece even more personal.

I photographed each sheet cover and then imported the photos into Photoshop. I’m really not a Photoshop expert and I didn’t know exactly what I was even going for but after playing around for awhile I settled on the image below.

sheet music pixelated and colorized

Art work created by Linda Holt

This piece along with two others will be hung above the sofa. Each one is a different color based on the room’s color scheme. I used Fracture to print my images on glass for this project too and at the moment they are sitting in my office waiting for our install day.

Three very different clients, three very different projects and three very different “stories”. That’s what I love most about design. Every client and job is different yet everyone has a family story that is a part of who they are and it’s what makes a house a home. I feel honored I was able to by bring three stories out into the open in my client’s homes through photography.

Would love to hear from you! Which of my three projects is your favorite?



17 Responses to Getting personal with photography
  1. Kristie Barnett, The Decorologist Reply

    Linda, these are awesome. I love the heart and thought you put into your designs, and I know your clients do, as well!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Kristie, thank you so much! I take your comment as a designer who I highly respect as the highest compliment.

  2. Debra Reply

    Wow! Very cool idea, Linda! As a photographer you’ve inspired me to do the same! You never disappoint – so enjoy reading and connecting with you – thanks for sharing! A wonderfully personal touch that is meaningful for me and my clients. LOVE IT!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Hi Debra! Thanks so much and I’m so happy to hear I inspired you! I would love to hear or see a photo of what you do.

  3. Angela Taylor Reply

    Well I guess my favorite would be the table from the Birds Eye Freezer Company with photo’s from that era. What a fascinating story Linda. Your sensitivity to your clients desires makes you a one of a kind designer…amazing!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Angela! It was such a cool coincidence and even a longer and more fascinating story than I could go into on my blog. So appreciate your comment!

  4. Carla Aston Reply

    Linda, your clients are so lucky to have your creativity and skills! I love all these so much. I can’t decide on a favorite. Really, really good design!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thank you so much Carla! I take your feedback as the highest compliment!

  5. Vivian Robins Reply

    What a great post, Linda! It is so important (in my opinion) to incorporate who lives in the home when designing spaces.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thank you so much Vivian. My clients “stories” are what usually drives my design.

  6. Sarah Hepburn-Smith Reply

    I love how you’ve woven these personal touches into the design. Especially love what you did with the sheet music!!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Sarah, I hope my client is equally as pleased!

  7. Anne Reply

    Wonderful ideas Linda. Anything that incorporates personality and meaning into a project gets my vote!

  8. Susan Beeler Anderson Reply

    Wonderful use of meaningful items. This has got me thinking of how I could incorporate colors from significant family items into decorating. I’m a weaver and recently wove landscapes and put them in old windows from my childhood home. It was amazing how each weaving ended up in a frame whose color, pattern and texture “match” the landscape. Now I will be looking at other treasures for decorating inspiration. Thank you!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      OH..That sounds incredible Susan. I would love to see a photo of your landscapes in the old window frames. If you willing to share, my email is

  9. Sarah Reply

    I really love the one with the books. What a special way for them to keep his Dad’s treasure in their home.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Sarah, not everyone has items of such significance but my clients were lucky they had something both meaningful and beautiful!

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