Celebrity Photog's Home Staging Secrets

When celebrities such as Sting, Lenny Kravitz, John Legend, Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen are selling their multimillion-dollar celebrity homes, awestruck fans and potential buyers ogle the listing photos to catch a glimpse of what these stars' home lives are like.

What's on the coffee table, adorning the walls or decorating the bookcases? Do they live like you, Joe and Jane next door, or like the demigods we want them to be? Well, one man has had an up-close look at many of these homes: photographer Evan Joseph.

Joseph (pictured left) says, "The thing that has always struck me most about celebrity homes is how comfortable they are."

Joseph, who just released the book "New York City at Night," has been shooting luxury real estate for years. When top-yielding real estate agents, such as Jared Seligman of Prudential Douglas Elliman or top agents at the Corcoran Group need a home shot, he is the photog to call.

"Evan is a terrific photographer and definitely the best in the industry," says Seligman. "We often bend over backwards to ensure that we use him to shoot our exclusive properties."

Joseph, who shares 10 of his celebrity homes photos (below), as well as some skyline shots from his book, says one might be surprised at how celebrities really live: with their names on the mailing labels of magazines strewn on their coffee tables and piano. Yes, strewn on their piano.

"The pianos are beautiful, but those pianos look used. They are heaped with piles of books and magazines, like a magnet that has drawn the items of the room toward it in a way that other people's coffee table in front of the TV has the same magnetic draw." He says the same is true of a rapper or a cellist -- even though they don't play that instrument.

Of course, the clutter and really personal items will be removed before Joseph shoots a picture -- and before the home is listed for sale.

"Celebrity homes feel very welcoming and not like designer showrooms. Their homes are designed to be lived in," Joseph told HousingWatch. "They have chairs you can sit in. The upholstery is overstuffed. The tables look like you can put your feet on them. It may be brand new furniture from a boutique in Tribeca or an exquisite midcentury antique, but it seems clear the celebrity homes have imposed their own design sense on the space and not allowed a designer to make every decision."

In comparing celebrity homes to those of similar opulence in the same building owned by a wealthy stockbroker, for example, he says:

"A rapper will have some really outrageous pieces of art ... it forces the designer to work around that. An investment banker's home looks like the designer left yesterday and no one wants to go in and touch anything. "

He says that the only difference is among some of the younger celebrities who have recently come into fame:

"They have more flash since they typically went from nothing overnight and they are excited to have something to show off. Older celebrities are like 'this is where I live to get away from this sort of thing.' Their homes seem like sanctuaries or getaways."

He says one of the main differences between a New York celebrity's home and the average person's, other than the expense of the furnishings, is the view the celebrity has from a penthouse suite or other high-level floors in prime locations.

"It is the view and the location and those two things go together," says Joseph, who has 110 photos in "New York City at Night" (written by Marcia Reiss). "When you are in a $20-million apartment it probably has an incredible view of something.... Looking at it from 20 stories up and all you see is the moon, the sky, the clouds moving by, it is pure poetry."

So in addition to shooting luxury real estate, Joseph began shooting the skyline from above. Real estate brokers would use these scenic images in their marketing materials. But it was a photograph of Central Park taken from Bob Costas' living room that attracted the attention of the book publisher. These images, and others he took while dangling from a helicopter, have now taken on a life of their own in his book.

So if you want to get a feel for how celebrities live, kick off your shoes, put your feet up on the coffee table and flip through it. Or see the photos below.

See homes for sale in New York, NY at AOL Real Estate.

For more on this and related topics see these AOL Real Estate guides:

New York City home of Sting and Trudy Styler.

New York City home of Robert and Cortney Novogratz, stars of the Bravo reality TV series, "9 BY DESIGN." (The home is currently listed for sale for $18.95 million with Raphael De Niro of Prudential Douglas Elliman.)

From the book "New York City at Night"

The Time Warner Building and Columbus Circle from the air

View of Central Park from Fifth Avenue residence of Bob Costas
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