Lake Tahoe photographers share their tips for decorating your mountain home
November 23, 2017
A statement art piece sets your home's tone and can convey complex emotion through an expertly captured moment in time. Three local professional photographers specialize in infusing nature within gorgeous, upscale Lake Tahoe homes.
Keoki Flagg began as a photographer for top editorial publications and Fortune 500 companies, then spending time in the art brokerage world before finding his true calling. Flagg now creates one-of-a-kind works of art, which are on display at Gallery Keoki in Squaw Valley.
Flagg coined a term to best describe his photography style as "pentimental," which describes his style of shooting multiple angles of one vantage point, and puzzle-piecing them together to show an image as closely to its appearance, in-person.
"I include the stereoscopic plane because we see with two eyes instead of one," Flagg said in an interview this spring with Lake Tahoe Home. "Horizontal and depth planes are taken at different points of time and then blended together in one moment. The end result is not a moment in time, but rather, time in a moment."
Brad Scott is the owner and artist behind Brad Scott Visuals. Originally from England, Scott spent much of his life in South Lake Tahoe, where his gallery is located. It features incredible panoramic images and expert aerial works.
"My photography style pretty much always includes some aspect of water; whether a waterfall, lake or ocean, I like to incorporate water," Scott said. "I grew up in Tahoe by the beautiful lake and after high school moved to Hawaii, so the ocean and big lakes have always been inspiration."
Recommended Stories For You
Scott takes advantage of the breathtaking local landscape to capture perfectly lit images either at sunrise or sunset, as well as shots from the other end of the light spectrum — glowing images of the Milky Way above Lake Tahoe.
Chris Talbot is a local photographer of 27 years who brings far away places to the walls of Lake Tahoe homes. Talbot specializes in international and fine art photography; much of his works hail from Panama, Vietnam and Thailand, in particular.
"I only shoot film, I don't Photoshop anything, I don't touch it up," Talbot said.
With high-end camera equipment, and editing software one app download away these days, Talbot shies away from over-saturated, eye-catching images that distort nature.
"It works the first time I click it; I don't spend hours after-capture changing the image — I would say it's not true photography to tweak the shot," he said."
Talbot — who owns Talbot Photography in Incline Village, in addition to co-owning with his brother, Darin, Around Tahoe Tours, also based in Incline — still shoots with the same camera he picked up 20 years ago. He says he likes to think he's been in the game long enough to see things happen before they happen, allowing him to present his shots differently than another photographer.
"I try to get to the spot I'm shooting at the right time so the colors are as beautiful as they can be, and then I shoot it on film and I don't touch it up," he says. "This way might not be as 'zingy' but it's true, it's real."
To properly adorn the walls of your majestic mountain home, these experts offer suggestions to help take the guesswork out of interior design.
Find The Right Shot
To perfectly decorate your mountain home, these art experts suggest taking into consideration everything from the room, natural and direct lighting, even the feeling you want the room to evoke.
– Spend some time thinking about how you want the space to feel and don't be afraid to go with an expert if your price point is closer to the upper tier; his team specializes in making your space feel like yours.
– Choose the right location, shape and color palette that evokes the feeling you're going for.
– It's important to look at the space from all different angles and lines of sight in which you live in that space. Take in all of the different vantage points and how you will see your decorative piece throughout the day.
– Decide whether you're looking for a big statement piece or an accent piece that will flow seamlessly with your existing home theme. For a statement piece choose a photo with vibrant colors, something that will draw the viewer's eye to that area of the house. For accent pieces, choose an image with a similar color scheme to your home's décor, allowing it to blend in rather than stand out.
– Is the space rustic or modern? For rustic homes, photography looks really good on canvas or wood with less vibrancy in the ink. Frames can enhance a rustic image as well. For modern homes, metal and acrylic give the photography a really polished, vibrant, more modern look and are float-mounted without a frame.
– Blue tape. In order to find the right space in your house, tape off the section of the wall with painter's tape. Measure the image and the wall to see exactly what the space around the image looks like on the wall.
– Find the shot you like based on the colors in the photo and how it works with the colors already on the walls in your home.
– Photography art pieces should be thought of as another window in your home, framing something you want to see; the bigger they are, the better they look in big rooms. An image takes you away, and people need that during the day; a nice scene of the moon dropping over the mountains, for example.
An image for any season
Whether you're looking for the perfect snowy shot of your favorite mountain, or a bold statement piece of sunshine hitting the lake, there are several ways to alternate the artwork in your home, whatever the season:
• On a rare occasion, through the process of virtually designing a space for the customer, we look at the right shape and message and can do a custom shoot for them — whatever the season.
• Rare moments define themselves, and the perfect summer or winter shot is usually the most special moment during the shoot.
• "We only shoot an original representation of any given image; Emerald Bay, for example, we haven't offered an image of for the past 15 years because I've only now captured an original representation, and that's why it's being released," Flagg said.
• A lot of clients will switch out their artwork for winter and summer. Think about storing winter images until the wintertime comes along — especially for second homes and vacation rentals, people want a ski chalet or a summer cabin — and oftentimes it's nice to switch out images depending on the season.
• If you're looking for a one-time decoration, Tahoe is incredibly beautiful in the summer and winter seasons. Try mixing winter and summer in an image from different areas like Emerald Bay and Bonsai Rock on the East Shore. Keeping to the rules of décor that you home calls for, it's nice to showcase a sunny lakefront foreground with snow-capped mountains behind.
• Try rotating your art; it's really cool to have winter art in the bedrooms and then move it out to the main rooms during the wintertime. You could have a nice selection of all seasonal art and work with the artist to create a nice collection you can rotate well — why commit to the same image for the rest of your life?
• A few images around the house can move to different spots. Canvas is light enough that you can easily move it around and get an entirely new feel from your home.
Hints from the experts
Save yourself some time and trouble by taking to heart the following tips from our experts in art photography and interior design:
• Do not fill every space. Understand that the negative space, what you don't cover, is equally of importance as it creates the balance and breathing room. An image that is a singular statement and appropriately scaled feels balanced with the right negative space around it.
• The feel of the environment will always be true if the line of sight to the image is good. Integrate the art piece into its space so it feels as though the environment was built around the piece.
• Face-mount technology has come a long way, and the floating image with no frame works in every environment to simplify your space. In order for a framed image to work, it must be good. If it's the right image and it's executed in its purest, simplest form, it doesn't need anything else.
• Make sure that the image is displayed in the right area, with the right lighting atmosphere. Metal, glass and acrylic have a reflective surface, so they need to be in the right lighting situation so they don't have any really bright hot spots.
• Rooms with single, bright spotlights will shine harshly — it's better in that instance to go with canvas to evenly spread the light throughout the picture. Try setting up a spotlight in your home with a nice line to the image itself.
• If you're doing a huge statement piece, plan to have at least one light shining directly onto it from a track, or another light source that directly highlights colors and draws the viewer's eye in. Accent pieces don't need individual lighting, as natural light will allow it to flow with the rest of the home's décor.
• Lighting is key; your image needs to be lit correctly or the colors won't pop. Be careful of direct sunlight on any fine art — if sunlight is on the art itself, choose something other than photography, or consider having the image printed on acrylic to protect it.
• Framing canvas looks fantastic; it can give a really dramatic effect. Glass on any fine art piece isn't always the best way to go because you can see a reflection or glare on top of the image, which can be distracting.
• Sizing! People are worried about the price when they shouldn't be; it's not that much more costly to go big, so you should just do it — it's your house, something you see every day, so make sure you love it. Keep in mind, not everything should be blown up, as it takes the proper depth of field; getting too big, you start to lose the image integrity.
What not to do
They've shared their best tips on how to decorate the home of your dreams, so here's what the professionals consider the biggest potential mistakes when choosing art photography to adorn your walls:
• Less is more. Simplify the message of your home's décor by looking at your space with new eyes in terms of scale and orientation of the image. Rather than framing an image and hanging it at eye level, try something new and unpredictable.
• A well-executed black and white image has an incredible, timeless power based on the simplicity of its tones. The contrasting tones showcase the vibrant outdoor world in an elegant, creative way.
• Really think through the statement you want to make. Have clarity and try to find a singular art piece that truly brings out that emotion in them, and don't do anything else.
– Saving money is always top-of-mind but when it comes to fine art and print media — you get what you pay for. It's really important to put photography on a museum quality print, whether it's finished media like a canvas gallery wrap or a metal print on a sheet of aluminum; even if you go traditional with a nice gallery frame, use glass or acrylic to protect the print. No matter what, make sure the paper that your image is printed on is high quality and doesn't look tacky, wrinkled or cheap.
• Artwork in museums and even some homes can be displayed in old, gaudy frames with lots of gold and bronze. Remember, less is more; the frame and mat around the inside can take away from the artwork itself. When choosing a frame, lead with simplicity — white, grey or black mats work well, while you can incorporate some of the image's colors into the frame. Stick with neutral colors and stray from heavily detailed frames.
• Don't keep your photography art in direct sunlight. Also be careful of the colors in the image that you end up choosing — it should flow with the tones that already exist on the walls.
• Choosing the location of your piece is like pairing wine and cheese. You want the image and all surrounding décor to compliment one another. Just as pairing art with the walls, you can't go throwing any image on any shaped or colored wall; there needs to be balance.
• Take the time before purchasing art to shop around and give each artist a shot. Check around, you don't want to think, "darn, I wish we would have chosen another one."