What’s wrong with this picture?


Does your average person own just three frocks? Two bags? Three pairs of trousers, three shirts and ten pairs of shoes? This storage appears to be for a hotel, not a home.

I worked as a photographic stylist for some years styling homewares for a major department store. A stylist is the person who makes the product look pretty with props using their artistic flair. It’s the stylist’s (and the photographers) job to make the product look good. Despite my background, I really hate unrealistic styling and propping … in particular, the lack of balance between the pretty and the practical. It’s all friggin’ pretty! I like to see some signs of life; newspapers, odd socks and unmade beds. Ok, I’m kidding.. I don’t want to see a shambles, but how would that wardrobe look if there was some more realistic content?

I would actually find the product more accessible – and I would certainly know how to use it better (do you think those cushions down the bottom of the wardrobe in those big deep baskets are the best of space?) I think it would also help those who are less visual and perhaps less able to imagine their stuff in situ.

There are many, many photos of products that are styled like the one above. Magazines are full of pretty, pretty pics that are very enticing and pleasurable, but how does one work at a desk with only a pencil cup and laptop? Where’s the actual paper and work? Do publishers really think we buy the promise of ‘unreal’?

What do you think? Should stylists get a grip and make things a bit more real? love to hear your thoughts.

16 responses to “What’s wrong with this picture?

  1. Stylists should definitely get more real. I actually cancelled my subscriptions to all the expensive home magazines because they were driving me crazy with their unattainable perfection. I now only have a subscription to Real Living.
    I would need a wardrobe ten times that size to fit all my stuff!

  2. It really does look like a hotel room! I think that artfully angled box on the lower left is supposed to provide a sign of human habitation.

    I would bet a lot of people look at that picture and think their lives can never be that way, so they don’t even get started. Photos of more true to life rooms would be more effective in encouraging people to get organized.

  3. I sooo agree. I often point out that we don’t own 3 pairs of the SAME EXACT BLACK PUMPS! I have considered lately donating all my tops and just going with the standard white button down- but just can’t bring myself to do it!

  4. If this photo makes you unhappy, I recommend a read of “Status Anxiety”, then, if necessary, “Consolations of Philosophy”, both by Alain de Botton.

  5. So funny! I too come from a stylist background, having done visual merchandising for some major department stores and brands and when I saw that picture when I received my edition of Organize Magazine I had ZACHERY the same reaction!! Even more I thought, wow this person walks around in a uniform – even on weekends!!! LOL I also thought to myself yep I have room to waste in my wardrobe for a bowl and cushions. Neat Freak Nirvana? Run, Toto, Run! “click my mismatched heels 3 times and repeat after me “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place …”

  6. wrong,wrong,wrong,WRONG!
    The perfection thing is an evil beastie and this is what stores prey on – who’d want to live like that anyway? I prefer images that are more realistic [read: adaptable] and far less cloying. But I still find myself looking at images and longing for the same organisational abilities – until I look closer and realise what I am doing!

  7. Really “Real Living” I just bought the last one and find it all toooooo cluttered

  8. If the aim is to show how to use the product or encourage its use then this is such an unrealistic presentation as to be counter productive. It’s a total turnoff by someone who knows nothing about organizing for real people.

  9. i could not agree more, and this pushing of unrealistic liefstyles is also prevelant in the vast majority of home makeover shows, to the point that i find myself turning off as there ends up being very little of practical adaptability. i knew it really was bad when even my husband started commenting on where was the real storage and how were people really meant to live in these ‘done-up’ places!!

  10. My first impression when I saw this photo in the magazine was “why is there a wardrobe in that nice living room”. Then I looked a bit closer and simply got mad at the wasted use of space the cushions were taking up. And to cap it all off – ewwww shoes on shelves above the handbags. So far on this subject though, I like Geoff Speedy’s comment the best!

  11. The number of pairs of shoes is probably realistic, but really, three indentical shirts, three indentical pairs of trousers and three identical dresses? Who lives there? A couple who only wear clothes three days a week?

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