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Great People = Great Shoots: Peter Grill

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to start giving back more. Not only with time and money to charities, but with exposure to the people I care about. I am very fortunate to work with so many talented, hard working, and dedicated people on my shoots for the past 16 years. Assistants, digital techs, producers, stylists, location scouts, PAs, even the caterers are often amazing! I really can’t thank these people enough for helping me to do my job and create great work for my clients.

A light bulb went off in my head last week and I realized I could make a blog series about these amazing people. So here we are! I present to you…

“Great People = Great Shoots”

It’s my hope that this series will inform you on what a great crew can do for any job, big or small. I also hope that other image makers use this when looking for recommendations. Let’s start off with…

PETER GRILL

Photo by Peter Grill

I met Peter when I moved back to Virginia in 2015. He’s based in DC and has been one of my go to assistants and digital tech these days. The guy is the complete package. Hard worker, knows lighting and grip, can digital tech, and now offers rental equipment. I’ve flown with Peter on a few shoots and he’s a great traveler, too. I am ten times more likely to hire someone again if I can travel well with them. Most recently, Peter digi-teched for me on my Oreck shoot with Wonderful Machine down in Charlotte, NC.

Let’s get to know Peter:

Describe what you do and how long you’ve been doing it.
I’m a professional digital tech and photo assistant offering capture, strobe, and grip packages. All the services and equipment have been slowing developing over the years but I’ve been a full-time freelancer for about 4 years now.

How did you get your start?
I went to Appalachian State University and graduated with a degree in commercial photography.

Who was your first client?
While I was a senior at ASU I got a few freelance assisting gigs through the professors, either working for them or their photo buddies. When I moved back to the DC area and tried to pick up freelance work Robb Scharetg was one of the first guys to hire me and continued to be my first regular client. Working with him my first 6 months really got me started in the area.

What’s a typical shoot day like for you?
I usually don’t know what I’m getting into until the morning of the shoot. Things like finding out our load in point, then staging area, and then figuring out lighting and planning any company moves are normal procedure. If it’s a new client I’m trying to learn what gear they have, how it works, and how they organize it as quickly as possible.

What tools do you use to do your job?
I always have a watch, sharpie, and a leatherman on me when working. Otherwise I deal with a large variety of strobe and grip equipment.

What was the craziest thing that happened to you on a job?
While working on a short in Death Valley CA we went on a bit of a wild goose chase to find one of our locations. We hiked in a built Sony FS7 rig, tripod, and a few other cases of gear. We really had no idea if we were on the right track but kept following remnants of old mining contraptions further and further into this canyon. We came up on this dried out water fall and had to rig a makeshift rope ladder to scramble up. It wasn’t the most technical climbing but carrying a $15K camera rig in one hand made it pretty sketchy! Anyways we found the location just in time to shoot one scene at sunset and hike it all back out.

Favorite snack food?
I have a bit of a sweet tooth on set… Gummy Bears, Twizzlers, Starbursts. My favorite crafty is the build your own fajita/taco/burrito spread.

How can people find out more about you?
getting in touch via peter@petergrill.com or my site, grilldigital.com

 

Midcentury Modern Shoot Featured on Dwell

A few years back, I shot an incredible midcentury modern remodeled home for my client, Portland, OR based JHL Design. I really loved the shots we got from this shoot and apparently my client and I weren’t the only ones. Dwell.com recently featured the shooton their blog! Here’s a snippet from the before and after article:

An old home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, receives a modern makeover, while keeping its midcentury charm intact.

Oregon–based David Horning of MOA Architecture has joined forces with principal designer Holly Freres of JHL Design to carefully renovate the 1955 three-bedroom dwelling. By using period-appropriate materials, the team has not only restored the property to its original warmth and charm, but also infused a modern, contemporary vibe. To emphasize the home’s tranquil lakeside location, two 10-foot sliding doors have been added to the living room to enable a seamless connection to the outdoors.

Jennifer Baum Lagdameo

Check out the whole article here: https://www.dwell.com/article/before-and-after-a-midcentury-lakeside-home-receives-a-stunning-new-look-fa200630

Here’s a gallery of the “after” shots I took. The space is just stunning!

Shooting Gunlocke’s Saranac Launch and Metta Chair Brochure

A little while back, Rochester, NY based agency Truth Collective reached out to me to shoot for high end furniture maker, Gunlocke. The shoot took place in Buffalo, NY, near the Gunlocke manufacturing facility. They make all their furniture in the US and it’s craftsman quality work. I was really impressed by how passionate the client was about their products. It was a joy to photograph and they were great to work with.

The shoot had three parts which we shot over three days: an ad campaign with talent, multiple location shots, and a studio day to shoot product shots and details. We also built a set wall to convert an event space into a cool industrial office space.

We had a great crew for the shoot. I worked with local location scouts, assistants, and producer John Takacs. The prop and wardrobe stylist was the great Raina Kattelson out of NYC. And my digital tech, Esteban Aladro, also came up from NYC with lighting gear (thanks Este!). If you’re ever in Buffalo, NY and need a studio, I can’t say enough good things about DPost

We had a tight window to get all this work done and it wouldn’t have been possible without the great art direction of Karrie Gurnow of Truth Collective. She really knew what she wanted and we worked together really well. Super smooth shoot and the client was very happy with the results.

Here’s what I shot for Gunlocke:

Luxe Magazine Cover Feature

2018 has started off great with this amazing cover feature I shot for January’s Pacific Northwest edition of Luxe Interiors + Design. Designed by husband and wife duo Holly Freres (JHL Design) and David Horning (MOA Architecture), this ultra cool coastal getaway was so much fun to shoot. I really admired the contrast of modern architecture and interior design with the natural rugged coastal surroundings. It was very zen and balanced. The whole house felt very cozy and the views stunning. Both Holly and David were there with me to help style the shots and clean the windows (thanks David).

True story: Holly texted me the day she got her copy head over heels that we made the cover. I was so excited for her and very proud to share these spreads with you. The full gallery is available in the WORK section of my website as well.

2017 Highlights

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to blog more and I’m off to a strong start with this mega post. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is look back at everything I shot the prior year and pull favorites for portfolio consideration. I’ve culled that collection down to a great highlight gallery of another very busy year.

Gallaudet University High School Residence Hall – Dangermond Keane Architecture

I started off the year with a chilly shoot in Washington D.C. for Dangermond Keane Architecture. Gallaudet University is a federally chartered private university for the education of the Deaf and hard of hearing. They have a high school program and the students live on campus. Dangermond Keane Architecture designed this amazing residence hall for them and it was really fun and challenging to shoot. All the students we used communicated through sign language, so we had to work with an interpreter to place the students in the shots. We also wanted to get the signing action in the shot, so there were a lot takes. Very cool experience to see how these kids live and play together.

 

College of William & Mary Law School: Hixon Center for Experiential Learning + Leadership – VMDO Architects

I did a lot of work with VMDO this year. It’s so nice having a local client doing amazing work in the area. Not that I mind traveling, but it’s nice to be able to come home after a shoot now and then. This was a quick shoot we did in February. Our dusk shot almost got rained out, but it cleared up just in time. I did have to shoot under an umbrella because the tree I was under was dripping from the rain earlier.

Shriner’s Hospital of Lexington, KY – EOPA and SRG Partnership, Inc.

This was a multi-party shoot organized EOPA and SRG Partnership. Back in Portland, I shot a lot for SRG. I felt very fortunate that I could shoot one of their projects on this side of the country. The Shriner’s Hospital of Lexington, KY was just about to open and we got in literally the last two days before they started seeing patients. Everything was brand new and we brought in models to stage the shots. Very happy with the results and definitely will be adding some of these to my architecture portfolio.

The Joinery 2017 Catalog Images

This is the second consecutive year I’ve flown back to Portland to shoot The Joinery’s annual catalog. I love their furniture. It’s amazing work, hand crafted right in Portland, OR. Solid wood and great design. I would love to outfit my whole house with their pieces. Their look is timeless and it will last forever. The shoot was styled by the amazing Bergren Rameson. So stoked when I get to work with her.

Lynchburg City Stadium Renovations – VMDO

Originally built in 1939 as part of the New Deal Works program, VMDO undertook an extensive renovation project to modernize the entrance and create additional facilities for visitors and teams. We had amazing weather all day with some pretty dramatic clouds. The dusk shots were some of my favorites of all time.

Bay Area Apartments – Prometheus Real Estate Group

For the third year in a row, I headed out to sunny Silicon Valley to shoot some architectural lifestyle images of Prometheus’ amazing apartments. About an even split of remodels and new builds, all these places are like the best places to live in the Bay Area. We focused mostly on the amenity spaces and I’m continually impressed how much thought goes into them. Really happy with last year’s shoot. It was hard to narrow down my favorites. Produced by the amazing Heather Smith of Smith X Union and styled by the brilliant Ashley Montague.

Brooks Family YMCA – VMDO

I did say I shot a lot for VMDO this year 🙂 Located in the heart of Charlottesville, the Brooks Family YMCA is a beautiful facility that’s quickly becoming an anchor of the community. I shot it three times over the year, twice on land and once from the air (via drone). What I really like about the building is the openness and transparency. It’s got a great vibe and I was honored to photograph it.

Oreck Image Library

I really had fun at this shoot. It’s easy to get trapped into a standard “product in environment” look when shooting things like vacuums and air purifiers. Fortunately, we had a great art director (Rybe Henderson) who helped push these into the hero shots below. Produced by Wonderful Machine. To learn more, check out my blog post here.

Pool House – Grounded Landscape Architecture & Design

I love simple spaces and this pool house and sunken pool designed by Grounded is case in point. I’m not usually a big sit-by-the-pool guy, but I could definitely relax here for a very long time and be perfectly happy. Also, got to fly my drone for some aerial perspectives. It was a good day.

Cloverfield Farm – Country Living

Technically shot in 2016, but it wasn’t published until fall of 2017. That’s always so hard with these editorial shoots. You do some really great work and then you have to wait a whole year before you can show anyone. The getaway home is about an hour from Memphis in the Mississippi country side. The owners Jessica & Kevin Carnell were so sweet and Jessica has a great Instagram feed (@growing_cloverfield_farm) of the whole project from start to finish. Read more on my blog post here.

Eastmoreland Project – Charla Ray Interior Design

I traveled back to Portland, OR in November for these next few projects. This first shoot was a private residence floor to ceiling remodel of a classic SE Portland home in Eastmoreland by Charla Ray Interior Design. Super lux vibe here and some great bold colors. Charla’s very talented and so nice to shoot for. Really happy with these shots.

Cosmo Modern – JHL Design

I don’t mean this to sound flippant, but I’m not often in total awe of an interior. I’ve seen a lot of homes at this point and they are all great in their own way. This one though was something else. I was almost intimidated to shoot it. It was so well done and just wanted to get it right. Fortunately, Holly Freres and her team are awesome to work with. I did my best and if you think these shots are cool, you should see the actual space (sorry they don’t do tours).

Arch Cape – Luxe Magazine

I got a cover for this shoot! That’s my next blog post. Designed by Holly Freres of JHL Designs (see above) and her husband architect David Horning, the two of them teamed up to create this amazing modern coast house for a Portland couple. I really dig modernism and it’s rare you find a project like this on the Oregon Coast. I’ll get into more details in the next post, for now enjoy these sneak peeks.

Liberty University Indoor Practice Facility – VMDO

These last three projects were all shot for VMDO. They kept me busy last year and so grateful. VMDO has been doing some extensive work down at Liberty University. They’ve really transformed the entire vibe of the campus. This practice facility is huge. It fits a whole football field inside with goal posts. I love the design and it was one of those buildings that just photographed well.

Greer Environmental Sciences Center, Virginia Weslyan University – VMDO

I’ve said it before, but I totally would have liked school better if I went nowadays. This new science building at Virginia Weslyan Univerity designed by VMDO makes me want to learn. One of the coolest features was the landscaping outside the building is used in the students research projects.

 

Discovery Elementary Time-Lapse – CMTA Engineers

I’ve totally caught the time-lapse bug. I always thought the way I shoot people in spaces could be used in time-lapse. I often shoot multiple frames to find that perfect moment. With time-lapse, you just let it go wild. These three are just the beginning for me. Can’t wait to do more!!

University of Virginia Gooch Dillard Residence Hall Renovation – VMDO

One of my last shoots of the year, the UVA residence hall remodel by VMDO has some great storytelling moments. I feel that’s what one of my better specialties. My shots tell the story of how a space is used. It’s more than architecture, more than lifestyle, it’s a documentary in a single frame.

And that’s it! Thanks for reading through all of this if you made it to bottom. I shot a lot more than just these, but some I can’t share yet. That’ll go on next year’s Best of 2018 blog post 😉

Looking forward to another great year! Reach out to me and let me know how I can help you create the images you need.

New Services for 2018! Drone Imaging and Full Motion Time-Lapse

Happy New Year! I’m very excited to share some news about two new services. Over the past six months I’ve been getting up to speed with drone technology and time-lapse photography and I’m now ready to offer it in addition to my still photography services.

Drone Imaging

Flying a drone is fairly easy and they have become quiet common over the past few years. But, did you know you can be fined millions of dollars for flying a drone in controlled airspace? You can also be fined for flying a drone commercially without an FAA license. I’ve taken several drone courses and passed my FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification last year. This means I can legally fly my drone for commercial purposes. I understand the rules governing drone operations and can now apply for special waivers, as well. It also means I can be insured. Insurance companies won’t issue a policy to anyone operating a drone commercially who does not have their FAA Part 107 License. Flying without insurance or a license is very bad. Hire me instead 🙂

Here are a few examples of some drone work I’ve done recently.

Like what you see? Reach out to me today to discuss any needs you might have for your project.

Time-Lapse Photography

I’ve always admired time-lapse photography. I think it’s beautiful way to showcase spaces and the environment, blurring the line between motion and still. It’s something I’ve wanted to invest in for a long time, but never had much call for it. This fall, a client of mine reached out to me looking to shoot multiple time-lapses of an elementary school project I shot stills for a few years ago. They needed the time-lapse clips as a feature on their new website’s landing page. I took the opportunity and ran with it. I’m very happy with how it came out and here are the results.

I can’t wait to shoot more of these. Please reach out to me today if you’re in need of some wow factor time-lapse photography.

Thanks!

Oreck Photo Shoot

I’m very excited to share this shoot for Oreck with you for two reasons: one, I really love how the images came out and two, I finally got to partner up with great folks at Wonderful Machine who have listed me on their site for years.

Shooting home goods products on location is something of a specialty for me. I’ve worked for many brands like Rejuvenation, Gunlocke, Hunter Douglas and others to highlight their products being used in a real location. My interior design photography background really compliments this type of work. What was slightly different about the Oreck shoot was the approach. As Oreck’s art director Rybe Henderson showed me, the action to vacuums and air purifiers is ground level. We really had to think outside the box (even mounting my camera upside down at one point) to find these hero angles. We also didn’t want to show off the room too much, so many of these shots are shot with a shallow depth of field. Very different from a typical interior shoot. I’m really happy how the shots came out and you can see them being used currently on Oreck’s website and social media.

The shoot was produced by my good friends at Wonderful Machine. If you’re unfamiliar, they are one of the best places to find a photographer anywhere in the world. They also do production and have worked with lots of their photographers to make shoots happen for all kinds of clientele. Julia Hanley was the on site producer and really went the extra mile to make this such a successful shoot. She organized the talent, hired the stylist Patti Borelli, arranged catering, built furniture, and even made a few Ikea runs for props. The best producers do it all and Julia is a total pro. A great shoot is almost always guaranteed when there’s good art direction combined with great crew. Special thanks to my digital tech Peter Grill and assistant Daniel Clark for working hard to keep the shoot organized and on schedule.

Here are the rest of the images also featured in my WORK section of my website. Thanks for looking!

Country Living – Cloverfield Farm

I have to admit, one of the biggest perks to my editorial shoots is meeting incredible people and spending time in their beautiful homes. Such is the case of Cloverfield Farm recently featured in Country Living Magazine. This stunning rustic barn home is the dream effort of the sweetest couple Jessica & Kevin Carnell. Jessica has a great Instagram feed (@growing_cloverfield_farm) of the whole project from start to finish. They were incredibly hospitable, making us feel very welcome and even cooking some amazing food. Check out this spread on my Instagram feed (@growing_cloverfield_farm). I really enjoyed this shoot and got some wonderful images as well. To see more images from the shoot, visit the Work Section of my website.

Then and Now

I was going through my archive the other day and stumbled on the first kitchen I ever photographed:

I shot this way back in January of 2003, on film, with a Nikon F4, and a manual focus 20mm lens. I shot it on Kodak E100VS slide film and I think I scanned it on a Nikon scanner, too. My memory is a little hazy on the digital stuff since it was so new then and changing so quickly. I shot film for the first three years of my career and learned a lot by making some very expensive mistakes. Fortunately, this shot wasn’t a total failure. But it shows me how lucky I am to have the technology I have today to do my job. Back then, I just had to guess that the shot was going to turn out. I had to trust that I focused correctly. I did sometimes shoot a test shot on Polaroids, but you really didn’t know what the the film was going to look like until it was processed. I had many sleepless nights waiting for the film to come back.

Things are so much better now. Take for example, this kitchen I shot November of 2012:

Almost a decade later and I was shooting this with a Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm TS-E II, and tethered to a MacBook Pro with Retina display. I could Live View the shot and see exactly what it was going to look like after I pressed the shutter. I knew exactly if the chairs were lined up correctly. And I knew I was going to have to shoot a bracket to get an exposure for the view to Photoshop in later. With digital, I have total control of the look and feel from set all the way to client delivery. No worries about labs messing up your film. No hassle and image quality degradation from scanning. It’s as perfect as a photo can be. Once digital hit 6MP, I was all in. Now were up to 50MP like it ain’t no thing.

It’s hard for me to imagine what I’ll be shooting 10 years from now. I do feel things are about to change again in a big way. Mirrorless cameras will definitely probably surpass and overtake the traditional DSLRs. I can’t wait till Canon comes out with a mirrorless version of the 5D. I shoot that camera on Live View 90% of the time on my architecture shoots. The mirror just gets in the way. The iPhone is an amazing point shoot that you always have with you. It’s not the best quality, but for small quick shots it can’t be beat. And then you have crazy compact cameras like the L16 by Light that has a field of tiny lenses to make one awesome camera that rivals a DSLR. I’m dying for a good travel camera and I would love to have the L16 in my back pocket, rather than lugging around a whole kit. Can’t wait to test it out.

Anyway, no matter where the technology goes, I’ll be sure to keep up and use it to take the best possible photography I can take. As Eve Arnold once said, “It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”