Monthly Archives: August 2013

iPhone Photo of the Day

Working on The Essential Guide to Lighting Interiors – 2nd Edition, with a pint of hefeweizen and an heirloom tomato ‘Margherita’ pie from Leaning Tower Pizza!

Marin County Residence by Building Lab

A tremendous amount of lighting is being done to the lower stairwell in order to show the intent of the designer. The shadow pattern from the pendant lamp upstairs has been strengthened, and the stairs have been lit "from the inside out" in order to draw attention to the keyhole cutout and the strong graphic lines of the handrail and bars.

A tremendous amount of lighting is being done to this stairwell in order to show the intent of the designer. The shadow pattern from the pendant lamp upstairs has been strengthened, and the stairs have been lit “from the inside out” in order to draw attention to the keyhole cutout and the strong graphic lines of the handrail and bars.

We’ve recently completed a two-day shoot in Marin County California with Building Lab, documenting a spectacular remodel of a mid-century modern residence. Building Lab manages to create crisp, clean, graphically compelling designs using traditional materials — emphasis on wood grain, metal, and glass.  The staircase shown above is a classic example: it’s deceptively simple and clean, but further examination reveals a very careful and skilled design. Photos, write-up, and lighting notes, after the jump!

iPhone Photo of the Day

On location in Paradise, California. The triple-net: umbrella, grid, card.

Lake Tahoe Home by Shelterwerkes

Kitchen by Shelterwerkes

We used no fewer than 6 or 7 lights (strobe, and continuous) to bring out the warmth and details in this kitchen.

On a weekend in July, I drove up to Truckee, California to shoot a Lake Tahoe-style project by Shelterwerkes Architecture. We made a long day of it on Saturday, and wrapped up Sunday morning (just in time for me to catch a flight out of Reno for LA).

Full write-up, lots of photos, and lighting notes…after the jump!

New Work: Summer 2013

WordpressClick the image to view the complete collection.

This late-summer portfolio features images from the following:

Handel Architects  •  Building Lab  •  Shelterwerkes Architecture  •  Atria Senior Living  •  Kelly Scanlon Interiors   •  Dogtown Development  •  Baran Studio Architects

Thanks for producing such amazing material for me to photograph!

Press for WordPress

Nice to see that the photos I made for Baran Studios at the WordPress (Automattic) offices are getting some exposure:

Click the images to see the articles!

Arch Daily:


And World Architecture News:



iPhone Photo of the Day

Standing Yoga poses for cameras….

Working Hard, or Hardly Working?

EDIT: This blog has MOVED. You’re on the old, dead blog. Everything (including this post) has been migrated onboard my website. Here’s the direct link:

Update your bookmarks! See you there!

We now continue with our original programming….



If you had asked me, even a few months ago, how I felt about the state of my photography career, I would’ve given you the same answer I’d been using for years: “I’m still in my start-up phase.”

I like to think of myself as a newbie in photography. And, taking a long view, I suppose that’s still true. I expect to be shooting for at least another 30 years (hopefully much more), and the paltry amount of time I have under my belt right now will ultimately represent a small percentage of what I hope will be the total. The depth of my photographic ignorance is profound, and I will never have enough time on this earth to learn what I want, and need, to know about making photographs.

But lately, I’ve settled into an uneasy acceptance that in fact, I’ve “made it”, at least in financial terms. For the past several years, I’ve had enough money to do pretty much what I want; and my business grows year over year in pleasing amounts. It’s been a long time since I worried about having enough money next week (as I once did), or next month, or even next year. Better still, I’m getting the kind of work I really want to get; I find most of my shoots to be very fulfilling. I’m doing fine; I’ve “made it” as a photographer. Things could certainly go awry, and there is plenty of uncharted territory ahead; but I can no longer pretend that I’m a start-up.

So, yay! for me…but that’s caused me to think a lot about how exactly this has happened. How did I come to this place, where no rational person would have predicted I’d be? I occasionally get asked to speak on this topic, and I’ve always struggled to identify the characteristics and habits etc. that I felt were important…..other than to say that luck had absolutely NOTHING to do with it (on that score I’m quite sure).

I was frankly lucky to have gotten out of high school, though, and I literally flunked out of college (cumulative GPA: 1.8). When I “became” a photographer, I did not have the first clue about what I was getting into. I took no photography classes, read precious few books, did zero assisting. I had never actually met a professional photographer. The odds were so high against me that if I’d had any inkling of what my prospects were, I’d have been too scared to try. But, I didn’t know any better.

So what was the magic ingredient? Long-winded answer, after the jump

Automattic San Francisco, by Baran Studios

MBA_Back in early June I photographed the offices of, which among other things is the parent company of WordPress, Gravatar, PollDaddy, and Akismet (this is a WordPress blog, in case that matters to you).

I’ve worked with architect Matt Baran (Baran Studio) on many residential projects but this was the first commercial space I’d worked on with him. Matt’s task here was to create a space in this former industrial building located in San Francisco’s SoMA district that could accommodate the usual contingent of maybe 15 or 20 people, but also (at a moment’s notice) swallow, say, a few  hundred coders that might be called in for a special project, or an event. There are less than 200 employees overall, scattered across the globe, but they never know when they’re going to have a short-term blitz of activity.

MBA_-9Matt took cues from the wood trusses of the building’s bow ceilings, added some ironwork and lighting, and then softened the whole space with wood-slat panels that partition off areas, add warmth and color, and function acoustically as well.

MBA_-2The result is a space that feels cavernous, but not cold, and doesn’t echo. Automattic, like many tech companies, has it’s quirks, and ping-pong is certainly one of them. The exact function of the weather balloons was a bit more mysterious, but we sure had a good time moving them around and positioning them where we wanted for each shot!

photo copy 2

We shot until just after midnight and came away with a pretty good set of photos of a very cool project — enjoy!


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