Hammer and Nails - Photos for Remodeling and Home Improvement Uses

Posted Wednesday, 23 February 2011 by Ellen Boughn in Ellen Boughn, Photography
It may be some time before new home construction takes off in the USA, but that doesn't mean that the sounds of hammering have been completely silenced by the economic downturn. MSNBC recently reported, "The home improvement sector is off and running... on track to top $133.7 billion in 2011."
Drywall tools set

© naumoid/Crestock

It's smart to make a collage of products from individual trades in the building/remodeling industry. The above items are used to install dry wall.

One of my favorite topics for photographers deals with remodeling, home DIY projects and residential maintenance and repair because there are a myriad of products and services involved. Thus each image has applicability to a large group of diverse business uses and buyers.

Think of all the merchandise on the shelves of a typical hardware store. Each item category requires images for use in marketing, as backgrounds on websites or to be used in the many publications that address the home handyperson or repair guy or gal.

Solar Panels - Checking Level

© lisafx/Crestock

Crestock's collection is light on images showing installation of residential solar panels.

Since it has been difficult for homeowners to sell in a down market, some have upgraded their homes to be more salable or remodeled to meet their changing needs. Perhaps they have added a room to accommodate a new child or a parent moving in.

Aging boomers in great numbers are choosing to retro-fit their homes to be more 'elder friendly' rather than moving to assisted living facilities. The green movement has reached the home as old water heaters and appliances are replaced with energy saving ones. Solar panels are being installed on rooftops all over the world.

Man and woman discussing blueprints.

© iofoto/Crestock

Beyond the obvious use in promotional and informational materials for a contractor, lending institutions often show images of people considering home improvement projects to promote home equity loans for remodeling.


  1. A single room remodel. The most popular situations to show are kitchen and bath remodels. Photograph demolition of the old and follow the project through to finish. Illustrate all aspects of the project including planning (i.e. looking at tile samples), cabinet installation, plumbing and painting.

    Vector home renovation and redesign icon set Home improvement

    © tele52/Crestock

    © danielgilbey/Crestock

    A vector of many images related to home improvement or a photo collage of DIY tools will grab the attention of a diversity of users.

  2. Adding an addition to an existing home. The theme that is most popular for buyers is showing an expansion of a master bedroom or adding a family room. A great shot is one showing an existing house with the addition framed in. The viewer can tell that the construction is not a new home but obviously an add on.

    Woman In Kitchen Using Laptop to Research Home Improvement Ideas.

    © Feverpitched/Crestock

    In order to show use of a computer to research home improvement ideas, this photographer has cleverly inserted his own photo on the screen to avoid copyright issues.

  3. Outdoor projects. The single most popular exterior addition to a home is a deck or patio. A landscaping project, especially one with major plantings will be attractive for use by landscape designers and garden centers.

    Carpenter Hammering Nail into Deck Pretty gardener woman with gardening tools outdoors

    © paulburns/Crestock

    © smartfoto/Crestock

  4. Models - If you are using actual project workers, recognize that they don't come to work dressed for a photo shoot. Since you will be paying them a bit for the model release, ask them to wear their 'best' work clothes when you plan to be on the site. Professional models have the opposite problem. It can be obvious that they don't have a clue about what they 'doing'. For example, dabbing paint on the models clothes while leaving the model spatter free is a dead give away that the photo is a set up.

    Reciprocating Saw on Laminate Hardwood floor installation

    © lisafx/Crestock

    © websubstance/Crestock

    A remodeling project involves many skills and products including painters, carpenters and electricians. Show them at work and close in on their hands and tools.

  5. Technical skills - Make certain when you are not using skilled trade professionals that your models know how to use the tools of the trade to add realism to the photos.

    Attractive Couple with Roll of Carpet Interior painting

    © avava/Crestock

    © vicnt/Crestock

Decorating and Updating

Real estate agents often have sellers spruce up the property prior to marketing homes by having them paint a room or two, add new carpet or refresh the landscaping. No matter the season nor the reason, sometimes we are just plain tired of that old stuffed chair or the out of date blinds. Shelter magazines and websites trade on that boredom with an endless supply of how-to articles on redecorating.

  1. Both furniture and carpets go out of style. Upholsterers and carpet installers are sometimes overlooked when thinking of photos of workers (as evidenced by the lack of them in the collection).

    Provence fabric Upholsterer's Work

    © ManicBlu/Crestock

    © TwoEllis/Crestock

  2. Repainting has been shot many times but there is room for improvement. As I mentioned above, don't make the mistake of not getting paint on the DIY painter while dabbling brushes of paint on their clothes. If you are photographing a professional painter, tell him to keep his shirt on...there is something not so visually nice about a shirtless worker especially if he isn't in the best shape.

    Man and woman looking at paint job. Happy mature couple about to paint their house

    © iofoto/Crestock

    © Yuri_Arcurs/Crestock

  3. Changing a house to accommodate an aging resident can be as simple as showing someone installing a support bar in a tub or shower.

    Modern closet 3d rendering Mason worker or brick layer icon

    © auris/Crestock

    © patrimonio/Crestock

  4. Spring cleaning and sprucing up the landscaping requires effort... but also a trip to the hardware and garden store to stock up on supplies and products from cleaning solutions to plants and mulch. (Remember, don't show brand names or logos!)

    Please get some dirt on those gardening gloves that the models are wearing. It's difficult to believe that a flower bed was planted with gloves that show not a sign of dirt.

  5. Finally, remember to ALWAYS get model and property releases.

Now get to work!

Ellen Boughn

Ellen has over thirty years of experience in the stock business gained at such organizations as Dreamstime, UpperCut Images, Workbookstock, Corbis, Getty (Stone), The Image Bank (Artville) and the creative agency, After-Image, she started in Los Angeles at the beginning of her career. Having been directly involved in the creation of four major stock photography collections, Ellen offers her decades of experience to assist photographers seeking success in stock photography.

Twitter @ellenboughn Facebook ellenboughn www.ellenboughn.com/blog

Ellen Boughn's best-selling book, Microstock Money Shots, is filled with insights, tips and advice on how to create commercial images and improve your work flow to profit from photography whether you're a hobbyist or a professional photographer.
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