The Evolution of a House Reno to Super Successful Photoshoot Location

December 2, 2020

Meet Bijour, owner, creator and renovator of @vanilla_palm_abode

If you have ever been thinking of using your home as a photo shoot location then this is a MUST read for you! We catch up with Bijour who fills us in on everything there is to know in the world of photo shoot locations.

Can you take us back to the beginning and tell us how it all began? 

We purchased our property about 2 years ago in Banora Point, Northern NSW. I had been looking for about 12 months before we found this one. We viewed the property before it went to market and made and offer but it was declined as the owners wanted to go to market to see if they could get a better offer. We eventually settled a week later after offering more. I immediately had a list written of all the things I wanted to renovate and we had a month of ownership before we moved in so we could replace some dark flooring they had installed a year earlier and I wanted to have 11 VJ Board walls installed also. We wanted a new kitchen also but unfortunately being to close to Christmas the tradies had cut off their intake and we had to wait until January to renovate it. It took us about a year to lock in a design for the pool and outdoor area which was really frustrating, but also because it took that time I think we made a few better decisions like placement etc. I project managed the entire process and I can say without doubt it was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. Mainly because I had to stay on top of the tradies and make sure they were sticking to what had been designed as I would come home and things were built differently than how I had told them so it had to be moved or redone. Some things haven’t been finished how I had intended them to be due to unavailability of stock but I think it has turned out pretty well and when renovating I think you have to learn to pick your battles and just move on with some things.

Did you ever think turning your home into a photoshoot location would be as successful as it has been?

When renovating we never planned or expected to hire our home out for location shoots. We were approached by a location scout and asked if we would consider it. My husband wasn’t that keen at first as he had no concept of the idea so it was quite new to him but he has become quite proud of what I have created and sees how well I’m doing and how happy it makes me. There are quite a few people (especially of the Gold Coast) offering their beautiful homes for location shoots but I think my main point of difference is, I offer my photography as an option too, so people can hire me as their photographer on an hourly basis and just pay a one off small hire fee. I’ve also been extremely busy with brands sending me their products and co-ordinating their campaign shoots for them due to the travel restrictions. It’s been so amazing to have helped businesses continue their trading as otherwise they would have been at a standstill had they not had content to sell their products.

What do you enjoy most about having your home as a photo shoot location?

Creating – it makes my soul sing! I need to be creative and at the start of this year I promised myself I would start working with more like minded and creative people. I had no idea what that looked like but knew I needed to look for or create those opportunities for myself. I have met so many amazing people these last 9 months and I love that my home has been used as a meeting place to create such gorgeous imagery. It’s really cool when I see what other photographers produce and how they use the space.


We absolutely love the new addition of beautiful spaces to your home, are there any more renos on the horizon?

 I’m currently half through a major front yard renovation which I am so super excited about. The front of our house wasn’t really usable so we have extended it to our boundary line and retained it with a gorgeous white rendered fence and breeze blocks. We’ve had a bamboo pergola built and the ground will be all paved so it’s a good space for our boys to play with bikes and scouters etc. There’s a few really cool features I have designed but you’ll have to wait for the big reveal! lol

You have been doing this for a couple of years now, what have been the biggest challenges during this time?

I started providing our home for hire in March this year, I think it was a wonderful 3 weeks and then Covid 19 hit and it absolutely died. I also have seen how some QLD’ers have been really fearful to cross the border in NSW so that has 100% affected my bookings, but saying that I’m running at a really nice pace right now, so I can’t complain.

For someone thinking about starting out on this journey, what would be your top 3 tips? 

I think to be successful at this you need to have some interest or qualification in styling and design. I’m an Interior Designer and homewares have been a lifelong passion of mine. Brands and photographers look for a blank canvas to a degree, that’s neutral and flows from inside to outside. I used to say to my clients that you want your home to tell a story from the minute someone pulls up to your driveway. So pick a style and stick with it! You also need to be on top of your social media. Enquiries and bookings are 24/7 these days, so you need to be constantly present and available.

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