Your Interior Design Portfolio – When Your Client Says “No Photos”

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Transparency is critical to the success of your design business website; imagery that displays your talents and highlights who you are. Just as important is your interior design portfolio, with photos you can share with prospective clients in face-to-face meetings – not to mention Pinterest and Instagram.

Then too, the massive popularity of video makes sharing recordings of your design projects on YouTube or Vimeo (or both) a powerful online marketing tool, as well.

But, what can you do if you run into a client who is so concerned about their privacy that they refuse to allow you to share imagery or videos of the work you’ve done for them?

While certainly not the norm, working with clients who refuse to have their space photographed happens often enough that you should be ready well in advance, just in case.

And, of course, even if you’ve never run into such a client, you can almost be certain that the design project you most want to photograph will be the one you can’t. So, here are some tips you can use to make sure your portfolio contains your favorite projects.

Ensuring Your Design Portfolio is Complete

With help from the pros at, we offer some tips on What to Do When Your Clients Don't Want Their Space Photographed:

Your first resort…

  • Include photography in all of your design contracts – The best way to work around a no-photography situation is to avoid it completely. According to a lawyer who works closely with designers, you should include a clause about photographing a space, both before and after the project, in your standard contract. Work closely with your attorney to hammer out the details to ensure you’re getting the rights you need to complete your portfolio.

  • Negotiate image sharing – Even if you have a clause about photography in your contract, the client may strike it out before signing. That’s the time to negotiate. If your original wording didn’t mention anonymity, it’s a great place to start. Offer your client complete privacy, ensuring that no identifying details about the home or its owners will be shared with publications, on your website, or on social channels. Work on finding a middle ground with your client that still allows you to add photographs of your project to your portfolio.

  • Ask to share details of the design only – Say that your client is standing his or her ground during negotiations. The next tactic to try is to give in, just a tiny bit. Instead of trying to convince your client over the course of the project, a better solution may be to focus on the details. Especially when your work is detail oriented and customized for the client, detail photos go a long way. While cropped photos may not work for publication, they can be used in your portfolio.

Your last resort…

  • Work with their real estate broker – If you’ve lost out on negotiations and the client simply won’t budge, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. If the client decides to sell the home, there’s a very good chance the space will be photographed to attract prospective buyers. In some instances, you can negotiate a deal with the broker to retroactively add those images to your design portfolio.

Interior designers and architects usually need to get their client’s approval to share images of their projects. That’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially if the project is a private residence.

While hearing a resounding “No pictures” from your clients may not happen often, being ready for the possibility will ensure you’re able to present a complete interior design portfolio online and in meetings with prospects.

Looking for more designer marketing tips, new interior design trends, and new product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.