Monday, July 26, 2010

Anatomy of a (HOLIDAY) Photo Shoot

After a busy week spent working on some writing assignments and meeting a very important magazine deadline, I was ready to embrace a fun and busy week hosting Matthew and Jenny Mead as they shot my home for HOLIDAY. Call it a holiday wish fulfilled! Read on as Matthew and I fill you in on what  took place behind-the-scenes of a HOLIDAY with Matthew Mead photo shoot.

Saturday, July  17:

6:30 am: Awake and, instead of cleaning and dusting, I decide to wallpaper my bathroom (one wall, only) and spray paint the chandelier and some accessories a vibrant shade of yellow:

Then, I make the kids a big breakfast to soften the blow of *ignoring* them for the next week as we shoot the house.

Matthew (MM):  After missing our planned 4am departure time, Jenny and I awake to quickly load our van which had been in the shop all week long.  My back is bad from a recent injury and we both welcomed the extra sleep...but it definitely put our departure on the late side: 9 am
12:00 pm: Begin to clean the house at a frenetic pace - surprised at how much I have ignored my home as of late - and wonder if I should weigh the popcorn seeds, crumbs and loose change I find under the sofa cushions. Decide at the same time that flipping the cushions is a good alternative to washing them.

 MM: On the road but multiple stops so I can stretch... hard to concentrate due to back pain but Linda has promised me a Canadian over-the-counter remedy which is all I can focus on.

4:00 pm: Re-install the (now painted) light fixture, hang numerous loads of washing out on the line and take my Swiffer out for a dance (cue the Madonna music) then spot clean the floor. Dust most surfaces and am actually surprised that the tidying up is not as daunting a task as I thought it would be. Turns out my house was untidy, but not DIRTY. (I am my mother's daughter after all!)

MM: Wishing we had arrived already... looking for some place to eat... still at least 4 1/2 hours from New Glasgow and I am whimpering in pain.

9:30 pm: meet the Meads at a gas station and lead them out to their cottage...which they love!

MM: A tranquil respite made even more comfortable by Linda.  Take the new meds and off to bed with a super sonic window fan we brought from home.


Matthew and Jenny spend much of the day relaxing at the cottage (recovering from their long road trip) and I spend the day swimming in the pool with my girl. The Meads arrive late-afternoon and we go over the entries for the Holiday home contest while my husband, Paul, grills up some yummy steaks. We narrow down the entries to three and the Meads will make their final selection after reviewing the entries that squeaked in under the wire after they left for Nova Scotia.With so many great options, we all remark that we wish we could choose more than one winner...

MM: Decisions, decisions, decisions...but wonderful entries to choose from and a great time spent catching up. Dinner was delish. 


 (making a mess before making things pretty!)

9:00 am- 5:00 pm: Set-up day, which means the unloading of the props: some pillows, Christmas ornaments, a rug from Company C (more about that later), some wardrobe options, and some other things the Meads created just for my house and the shoot. Set up my vintage-inspired tree (discovered the one they brought was missing its top!) and made a shot list. Prepare the food for the table shots and set the table ever so prettily.

MM: In pain and still tired, but Linda has done a great job creating beautiful spaces to style and showcase holiday decor. We spend the day setting up and working on camera angles... I make sure not to bend or lift anything heavy.

6:30 pm: No time to change before dinner with the ladies in my family who came down for the shoot.

 MM: Great dinner... delighted to meet Linda's mom, sister and sister-in-law... fun and relaxing.

Tuesday: Day one of shooting! Today is "people shots" and the morning finds us shooting the mantel and making final wardrobe selections. Between what everyone brought from their own closets, what Jenny purchased and what we could borrow from one another, everyone cleans up pretty well. I decide to purchase the knit dress Jenny brought for Sophie - for $25 it's a no-brainer! Somehow, Matthew and Jenny help everyone overcome their self-consciousness and the little girls look great in every photo. My mum marvels that she "looks younger" in every photo and Matthew jokes that he used the Barbara Walters lens!

MM: No need, really; everyone looks pretty and putting on their best smiles...   We shoot for several hours until the light goes flat... GOOD JOB EVERYONE!


  House shots: (this is where I gush on and on about how Matthew and Jenny's perfectionism and talent made my house look like I never imagined it to look in photos!) Although I have accompanied them on shoots before, I really took notice of their attention to detail and desire to have the perfect lighting, angle, and styling - which really sets their photos apart. It isn't uncommon for it to take two hours to shoot one area/room and Jenny's trained eye misses nothing as she "proofs" the images while Matthew shoots. They take turns shooting at times and we all put in long days with Matthew being a real trooper as he suffers from a bout of unrelenting back/sciatica pain.

MM: Jenny is a perfectionist... and I am a bit of a pain because I am in pain... but Linda has such a good decorating sense it is only a bit about moving things for the best camera angles.. and the color palette, well, it is just beautiful!  We thoroughly enjoy each and every image and marvel at the beautiful light quality in her home.

Thursday: Jenny's Birthday and a day off! After picking up the most beautiful cupcakes from a wonderful local baker/cake artist, we head to Halifax for a day of shopping, dining and basically being tourists. Shops like Renovators Resource, Bellissimo, Attica, Backyard and Veranda, Biscuit, some antique shops and the most exquisite lighting and design gallery, Norman Flynn, we squeeze in lunch at a downtown restaurant and a quick tour of Pete's Frootique Matthew likens the city to be reminiscent of some of the cities in Europe and he and Jenny get a little taste of the style and inspiration to be found in our capital city. Oh, and the cupcakes? Delicious...!!

MM: Thank goodness for the day off... Some extra meds, a brilliant tour guide and we get to see the most modern and stylish things south of Linda's house. Really; design and chic style  in Halifax to rival Paris and Manhattan... a true delight.  I thoroughly enjoy this day of recouping.  

 Friday, July 23:

It's a wrap! Well, after we shoot my bedroom, some more vignettes and some detail shots, we are all pretty much spent and beginning to fade. Then I am faced with my big decision: do I keep the (perfect-just-what-I'd-been-looking-for-but-a-bit-more-than-I'd-budgeted-for) Company C rug or do I let the Meads pack it up with them to be returned to the store? Although I am offered it at a clear bargain, I decide at the last minute to bid it farewell, recalling my sister's words, "With three (outdoor) cats and three kids, it isn't the season in your life for an expensive rug, Linda." ~Sigh~ Sad, but true...

See what I mean? He looks clean now, but on a rainy, muddy day...

But, after a perfect, hectic week, I have nothing to complain about and cannot WAIT to see the layouts after Matthew, Jenny and Stacey work their final magic! One thing is certain: HOLIDAY with Matthew Mead will NOT disappoint!!

MM: Rug or no rug, the New Glasgow home of the MacDonald's is stellar.  Everyone was gracious and inviting and literally allowed us to turn their lives upside down.  We came, we saw, we embellished for Christmas and all the while making fond memories that will last a lifetime.  Linda's story will be colorful and unique and so special in the pages of HOLIDAY... it is another dreamy story to add to so much exciting content.  You'll see, too, in a few short months...! 
**Oh, and my back is better, but I am really babying it.  And Oscar was pleased as punch to have us home!
Next location shoot? At the home of the Holiday contest winner. When will that be? Stay tuned and we will announce soon!! 
(blogged by Linda MacDonald) 


Holiday with Matthew Mead is sold only via this website. 
Have you ordered your copy yet?


  1. Linda, I just so love the background to the magazine, so fun to feel apart of! Lezlee

  2. looking forward to seeing it!...p.s. love the wallpaper!

  3. This was such a fun post! I was such a nerd not to turn in my photos, but I always do that to myself..doubter..I love that you dance with your too. On the monthly occasion (hehe)

    Your girl is a spitting image of you, Linda!!
    Cutie pie and future decorator extrordinaire, Im sure..
    Cant wait to see who you pick..
    xoxo from the beach, sister

  4. Thank you all for sharing...I can't belive your week..especially with BACK PAIN! I can so relate to relate to you!
    This is going to be amazing....I am sure no one will be disappointed.
    Can't wait to see who won your holiday home exciting..take care of that back this week! xo

  5. Long car trips and back pain just do not go together! i hope you are feeling better. The sneak peeks of the photo shoot make us all feel like we got to stand behind you. Thanks!

  6. I can't wait to see your home in the magazine Linda! My entry was a squeaker - I can't wait to see who you picked! Fun stuff.

  7. I loved this behind the scenes look at the photo shoot froom both sides! Really fun!

  8. Really fun reading what goes on during your visits and shoots.

    Back pain isn't fun. My son and I know that for sure. I can see how Matthew is standing crooked. Ouch. Glad that is better.
    I am so excited about the magazine. I don't like to wish time to fly as it does way too fast anyway, but I can't wait to get this one. So much fun following it being all put together.

  9. It was fun to learn what goes on during a photo shoot. I don't know how you guys do it...busy, busy, busy! Can't wait to see the final results!
    Glad to hear your back is doing better. :)
    ~ Jo

  10. Can't wait to get my copy of Holiday. It is going to be spectacular!!

  11. First of all, I had no doubt that this would all pull together beautifully even though you may have been leading us to think something else. Second of all, sciatica pain...ugh! Such a misery. There's an OTC pain relief for that in Canada? Must put it on my list stat along with some Crosby's molasses and Gravol.

  12. Great post...can hardly wait to get my hands on the magazine! all the best,Chrissy

  13. I cant believe I havent found your blog until today. I found you through Emily @ Jones Design Company. I love all things Christmas or holiday for that matter! I just recently sold my home and Im renting for now until I relocate out of state. I wouldve loved to get into your mag, but I'll settle for just reading it daily. lol I placed your button on my blog because I can refer easily back to you as well as share your fabulousness with my readers. lol Im a self proclaimed decorator and a mother of 5, I left my a retail merchandising position to stay at home but cant ignore my passion - Melanie

  14. Thanks for the behind the scenes look. I didn't realize it took so many days to do a shoot. Silly me, I thought the home owners were just changing clothes for the camera, ha!

  15. Looked like so much fun!!! I can't wait to see who won....when will it be revealed????


  16. Great to hear a 'behind the scenes' take. I miss Halifax and all that it has to offer, so it was lovely to hear how much you enjoyed it too (I am currently transplanted on the other side of the country).I am also not immune to driving over to New Glasgow to do a bit of holiday shopping with my sister when I am 'home'.

    Ordered a magazine a few days ago--that cover reeled me in.

    Looking forward to October!


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