If so, photographer Jim Yochum is looking for you.
Yochum, 49, is an architectural photographer who fills the pages of Americas home magazines with images of the indoor life. Hes spent the past 15 years working with 20-some national magazines which grace the coffee tables of America.
Its not easy, he says. Theres a lot of competition and many people cherish their privacy. The most difficult part of my job is getting people to show me their homes.
And even though Northern Michigan has many fine homes with magnificent views, theres a lot of competition out there.
The national magazines are extremely picky because theyve got all of the United States to choose from, Yochum says. So of all the homes I choose to shoot each year, the ones that get selected are pretty lucky to get in.
What are the odds of making the cut in a national magazine?
Out of 10 homes that I see, maybe one or two is good for a photo shoot, he says. And then I can send it to a magazine, and they may like the home, but already have one in the bank just like it.
LIFE IN FOCUS
Last year, Yochum photographed 27 homes, a down year from what hes used to in a market thats tough all over.
He receives an average of $5,000 for a day shoot, and $10,000 for two days on the job.
If that sounds like easy money, consider that theres also a great deal of behind the scenes time spent getting a magazine spread. For starters, Yochum has to scout a number of homes before he finds one that a magazine will accept. That often involves knocking on the doors of eye-catching homes around the region and introducing himself and his work to residents.
Once he finds an interesting home, he does a visual sketch with a digital point-and-shoot camera and assembles a package for a magazine to consider. If he gets the go-ahead, he returns to the home with his stylist, Chicago-based Gisela Rose, who secures and arranges props, flowers and furnishings.
Yochum uses a 35mm Canon 5D with 13 megapixels of capacity for the primary photos. Once the shoot is done, he typically spends several days at his computer, digitally-retouching the photos before sending them to the magazine.
Its not always the upscale homes that are accepted, he notes. If a home is creatively done on a shoestring, it can be of interest. The magazines want creative, lively, fresh and fun homes that are going to turn the pages, along with something they havent seen before. Its hard to get those photos because, lets face it, everythings been done before.
Recently, for instance, he photographed a small farmhouse in the Elk Rapids area of around 900 square feet that had a single-room floor plan on the ground floor with orange walls and furnishings. The color and creativity of the home resulted in a magazine spread. A cottage on Grand Traverse Bay also made the cut, with the photos accenting the simplicity of the home, its furnishings, and waterfront views.
On the other hand, log homes and timber-frames, which are popular in Northern Michigan, are not the go-getters that one might imagine for national magazines. Yochum says these homes all tend to look the same after awhile -- to magazine editors, anyway -- and can be plagued with dark, heavy leather furnishings and antler chandeliers that have become visual clichés. Theyre still a good fit with specialty magazines such as Log Home, however.
It all comes down to the interiors of the places I shoot, he says. Architects cant control what goes into a home; once its built, its out of their hands. A lot of the time, an interior designer will put their stamp on a home and its hard to find people with good taste.
Yochum moved to Traverse City a year ago from Tucson, Arizona, where he had the quintessential southwestern adobe-style home with 15-foot ceilings, beams and a honeybee fireplace. Childhood memories of his familys cottage on Torch Lake led him back to Northern Michigan.
Born and raised in the Detroit suburb of Farmington, Yochum bounced around to California, Colorado and Hawaii after high school. A five-month stint in Hawaii led to the purchase of his first camera. Although he had intended to study architecture in college, he soon found his passion in photography, studying at Lansing Community College.
In a stroke of luck, Yochum was visiting a photographer friend in Chicago in the 80s when he heard of a job opening at Hedrich-Blessing, the oldest and most prestigious architectural photography firm in the world. He had his portfolio with him at the time, and two hours after his interview, he had a job. Over the next few years, he served as a photographic assistant with the firm, flying all over the country to architectural shoots. Later, he went to work for one of the firms founders, Willy Hedrich, who shot the famous photo of Frank Lloyd Wrights home, Falling Waters, and had also served as war photographer and a portraitist with the likes of Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin to his credit.
He was a master photographer who seemed to know everything about life, photography and people, Yochum recalls. He could control any situation, and I realized that this was really someone I could learn from.
When Hedrich retired from photography, Yochum decided it was time to launch his own freelance career. He bought a 4x5 view camera 19 years ago and has been a lens-for-hire ever since.
But even though he paid years of dues working with some of the masters of the art, Yochum says that success in photography doesnt necessarily come from experience and training.
Photography is the kind of thing where you either have it or you dont. You either have an eye for a photo or you dont. I think the really good photographers are naturals.