Today we take a look back at a tour I did a few weeks back with Tolly Moseley, a local blogger best known for Austin Eavesdropper and a new “Hungry In…” video series for Citysearch. On her blog she speaks candidly on a wide range of topics, and her posts are always well written with a good blend of humor and insight. Tolly’s blog is one of the most prominent in Austin, and her content just kept finding its way to me. After seeing some cool interior photos of her home from a Statesman article, I said, “OK, I got to see if I can feature her in a house tour.” I sent along the photos to my editor for approval, then after getting the green light got a hold of Tolly to see if she’d be interested in doing a Tour feature for AT.

She replied promptly and enthusiastically – I love how bloggers are like that – and we set up the shoot / interview. What I think separates Apartment Therapy from all the other design magazines and decor blog is its focus on the people behind the home. What do they do? How do they live? What inspires them? and What can they teach me? – not just about where to get this couch or that desk, but how to live my own life?

Maybe a lot of people don’t see it as that, but I definitely do. As the photographer, that’s what makes this gig special, that’s what gets me excited to do a shoot, and what motivates me to seek out another shortly after. If I just went to an empty house and took interior shots I’d probably have given this up already. It’s the people, their personality, their spirit that I hope to capture and learn from in each of these shoots. I’m not just becoming a better photographer, I’m becoming a better person.

Whatever thoughts you’ve formulated on what kind of person Tolly must be from reading her blogs, I assure you the reality will eclipse it if you get the chance to meet her. She truly is one of those good people that you meet and walk away thinking “Wow, that was a really incredible person.”

During a shoot, things typically go like this…

1) Short “tell me about your place, inspirations” conversation (30 minutes or so).

2) “Ok, I’m going to take some photos,” when I go about my bizness and do the interiors shoot

3) “I got some ideas for the lead shot,” then I shoot those along with some candids

4) Hasta la vista, baby

With this tour, Tolly hung around and we talked the whole time. We talked funny stories, books, food, music, Austin, along with some very personal things. So when I wrote, “As soon as you meet her, Tolly is a genuine friend — accepting, welcoming, and easy to talk to,” I really meant it.

Shooting her space was a little difficult for me, because it had low light and subdued colors. I’ve kind of tailored my shooting style to create images that are bright and filled with light, and for this home that just wasn’t being honest. Tolly’s home is laid-back Austin with a kick-back and chill vibe so I dailed down my exposure to try and preserve that mood. When editing I also kept the yellow-hue to the images because that’s what the lighting in the home looked like, and I wanted to prevent things from looking too crushed or forced.

I definitely realized I need to develop my low-light techniques, but in the end I did get some images I can stand by. The ones I most liked where those with Tolly, in a range of moods and settings throughout the home from our variety of conversation topics. As Tolly mentioned in her post, the public reaction is mixed, the comments sometimes hurtful, but I think her and I both know that’s the nature of the internet beast.

There are some takeaways that’ll make me do things a little differently for other tours, but my overall style won’t change. I will always aim to feature the spirit of the people who live in the homes in my photos, and I’m going to do it with pride. That to me is what Apartment Therapy tours are about, and that to me is the art in photography.

Here are a few outtakes from the shoot for this House Tour feature.


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