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.

Play by Play of a Full Day Interior Design Photo Shoot

Saul Zaik is well known architect that’s famous for his Pacific Northwest take on mid-century modern design. He’s been practicing architecture since 1952 and I was lucky enough to photograph a Jessica Helgerson Interior Design remodel of one of his houses in the West Hills of Portland, OR.

For a different take on my typical blog post, I thought I’d do a play by play of each shot I took throughout the day and describe what it takes to pull off a typical one day interior design shoot.

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1st Shot – South Elevation
Since my client’s needs were more interior design related, we only took one main exterior shot that showed off the work they did. This angle shows the new home color, new deck, and patio furniture. I debated long and hard about shooting this angle at this time of day. The house is in the shade and typically you want sun on a building. But because of the surrounding trees, the house wouldn’t be in full sun until mid-day and that light would be really bad this time of year (shot mid summer). Late afternoon wouldn’t have worked either because the shadow lines would have created a lot more distracting angles on the architecture.

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2nd Shot – Patio Detail

This was a quick pickup that we went for since the light was looking good. Setup was pretty fast as we were all set from the previous shot. Exteriors go quick. The first two shots were done in about 30 minutes.

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3rd Shot – Living Room

Though I love the look of mid-century modern, it’s typically a challenge to shoot the interiors. In this house, the wood walls and wood ceiling suck up a lot of light. In order to create the beautiful natural light look, I opened up 2 stops over the ambient light reading. This totally blow out the window frames, so I had my assistant walk around with a solid white reflector on the outside of the windows to cut the light at the window frames. This gave me some darker window frames to work with I photoshopped all the frames together for natural look and then used a separate outside exposure for the view. All told, I used 11 frames in the final composite. This shot took about an hour start to finish and about two hours in post.

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4th Shot – Fireplace Detail

This was a simpler shot lighting wise, but the styling took a little longer. Jessica and her designers totally rearranged the bookshelf to create a balanced look. One tip when moving homeowners stuff: Always take a before picture so you know where things go back. This shot took about 45 minutes

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5th Shot – Dining Room

This shot went pretty quick. I used available light and added a little fill from a strobe bounced off a white card on the right side of the frame to open up the dining room table and chairs. I always use fill light in interiors; meaning my light is under the main ambient exposure by a stop or two. This opens up the shadows, while not becoming the dominant light source. There’s nothing more unnatural looking than an overpowered strobe in an interior. We knocked this one out in about 30 minutes.

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6th Shot – Kitchen

The kitchen area serves as a pass though from the dining room to the family room and bedrooms, which made it hard to find a good angle to shoot it from. We ended up at this spot because it best showed the height of the space and how it related to the dining room. I shot separate exposures for the open door and upper windows and dropped them in later. This shot went quick, maybe 3o minutes. After this shot, we took a lunch break for about 30 minutes. Don’t want to waste too much time when there’s more to shoot!

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7th & 8th Shot – Family Room

I put these up together since we shot them back to back over about an hour period. We shot two angles because one just didn’t explain this cool space well enough. The first is more of vignette and the second is more the room hero. I love both these shots. They feel so peaceful. Pillows and plants take a long time to style to look right. Fortunately, shooting live view speeds up the process because you can see changes in real time.

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9th Shot – Master Bath

The hardest part of this shot was that my camera and tripod were being reflected right in the middle of the shower’s glass wall. In post, I went in cloned out the reflection which was a little tricky with all that tile work. It was one of the those shots were post took more time than shooting it. This shot was all natural light. All in all, about 3o minutes to shoot and an hour of post.

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10th Shot – Bedroom Vignette

We liked this composition to show off the design elements, but a couple of the clocks on the wall were out of the frame. We wanted to show all the clocks together as a group, but didn’t want to put any new holes in the walls. To make it quick and easy, Jessica and her designers hand held two of the clocks in place and I shot them standing in the middle of the room. I then photoshopped them out with a blank base frame. This is one of those times where it was faster (and less destructive) to do it in Photoshop than in reality. I used a fill light on the left because the room was so much darker than the bright bathroom. About 30 minutes total on this shot.

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11th Shot – Carport

Not too much went into this shot. Mainly retouched out some oil stains on the concrete. Sweet car, huh? 15 minutes start to finish.

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12th Shot – Office

This is one my favorite office shots. Mainly, because it’s the office of amazingly talented photographer Ty Milford. It’s fun to see another shooters workspace and what they put up for inspiration. The room was shot available light, but I put a strobe in the hallway to brighten that up. 3o Minutes on this one.

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13th Shot – Kid’s Room

Small spaces are tricky to shoot. I don’t like to go too wide which distorts everything and looks weird to me. So, I usually get back as far as possible, sometimes with camera pressed up against a wall and shoot just wide enough to get the key elements in place. We didn’t do too much styling on this. Mainly, just tidied up and moved away some clutter. We spent about 3o minutes on this one.

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14th Shot – Powder Room Detail

On this shot, we all went back and forth about having the sconces on or not. The sconces were the only real light source and turning them off made it really dark. The only daylight was coming from down the hall and around the corner. When they were on, the sconces were distracting because your eyes went right to them and overpowered everything else. Ultimately, we ended up going with them off and shooting a long exposure (8 secs, f/13, iso 320) to create a brightness that wasn’t there in reality. To the human eye it looked dark, but with a camera you can see a lot more. Quick shot though, maybe 20 minutes.

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15th Shot – Hot Tub

Fairly simple styling on this shot. It mostly required some photoshop since the tub area was in shade and that blew out the view and the cool roof detail. I never shoot HDR for this kind of work because you have so much more control if you shoot separate exposures work in layers. HDR gives you a little too much information and can kill a natural look. We took about 20 minutes to shoot this and I did not jump in the hot tub, despite it being so inviting. Still had another shot to do 😉

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 16th Shot – Master Bedroom from the Outside

Here’s another shot that I had to deal with reflections. I placed the camera and tripod on the center point of  the door frame, so all I had to photoshop out was one leg being reflected. I had almost wrapped this shot when I went back to review and realized I was standing in reflection of the glass. So, I had to shoot all the brackets once more, but fortunately hadn’t moved the tripod.

And that’s a wrap. The day started 8:30am and we finished up at 6pm. This shoot was pretty typical for an interior design / residential architecture kind of shoot that I do. We were able to get through so many shots because Jessica and her team are awesome at styling and know what they want. We’ve also been working together for over 8 years and have a good rapport. Most of my successful shots come from collaborating and great styling, whether by the client or an professional interior stylist.

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.

Victorian Kitchen

Victorian Kitchen by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Happy Thanksgiving Eve Everyone! I finally have a breather after what’s been an incredibly busy fall. It’s been too long since my last blog bust, but it feels good to be back. I have a major backlog of work to share, so subscribe to my RSS to get the latest and greatest.

I figured since many of us will be spending some time in the kitchen this weekend, I thought I’d show off this incredible kitchen remodel I shot for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design. It’s always a pleasure to shoot for Jessica and I’m so happy we’ve got to work together so much over the years. Her designs have always struck me as understated elegance. She has a way of making beautiful spaces that you can live in as well as admire. Plus they always photograph so well 😉

Enjoy your holiday!

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JHL Design Featured in GRAY

Also from the December/January issue of GRAY, a shoot I did for JHL Design got the glossy treatment with this six page spread. The double truck kitchen shot looked killer in print. I was really happy for JHL to get published. I shot  quite  a few projects for them last year and Holly and Jasmine do excellent work. Plus, they were a lot of fun to work with. JHL Design just launched a new site and you should check it out: www.jhldesign.com

Back to Back Cover Features for GRAY

After a little blogging hiatus, it feels good to be writing again about what I’ve been up to lately. Got some good stuff in the queue covering personal work, photo business stuff, and lots of tearsheets. In fact, here are two cover features for GRAY Magazine that just ran back to back December/January and February/March.

GRAY Magazine December / January Cover Feature - Gothic Office by Jessica Helgerson

This cover features the awesomely moody Gothic Office I shot for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design last year. I was really happy to see the shoot run in print. GRAY does a really nice job on their printing and the shots really pop off the page.

Then for the February/March issue, GRAY picked up a shoot I did a few years ago that I loved. Many of these shots are in my portfolio.

Interviewed on PhotoShelter

As you may or may not know, I’ve been a PhotoShelter customer for several years now. I love their service. It is, by far, the BEST way to show proofs to clients and deliver high rez finals. It also easily fits in to my digital workflow with Lightroom via a plugin, so using it saves me tremendous amounts of time and energy. Time and energy that I now spend focusing on my business, rather than mundane tasks that waste countless hours like creating Adobe web galleries, FTPing files, or (cringe) burning DVDs.

Every job I’ve delivered since 2010 is online high rez. Not only can my current clients redownload their images at any time, but I can quickly share and relicense available images to new customers. As a bonus, it also serves as an offsite backup in case something every goes terribly wrong at my office (knock on wood).

Anyway, when Lauren Margolis of PhotoShelter asked me to do in an interview about my architectural and interior photography, I jumped at the opportunity. I was totally flattered and I think the interview came out really great. Click the link below to read it on PhotoShelter’s blog:

Architectural Photography: Just Like Playing Tetris…Right?.

Here Comes the Sun – Portland Monthly Feb 2011

First tearsheet of 2011 and it’s goody! I actually shot this house in December of 2010 on a really crappy weather day. It was looked like night when we showed up and was raining really hard. Fortunately, by the time we were set up and ready to shoot, the rain lifted and clouds got brighter. Using long exposures and fill flash from my monolights, I was able to create the bright and sunny look on what was a pretty typical Portland winter day.

I’ll share a little secret with you: I actually prefer shooting interiors on cloudy days. Sunny days are a pain in the butt because the windows get too hot and I usually have to photoshop them in later. All these shots were single exposures.

For you interior design lovers, it was another fabulous project by the talented Jessica Helgerson Interior Design. They’ve just launched a new website and it features a lot of my work I shot for them over the past few years. Check it out!

Here’s the rest of the feature that ran in the February 2011 issue of Portland Monthly. Continue reading “Here Comes the Sun – Portland Monthly Feb 2011” »

Behind the Scenes – Kids in Architecture

I’ve always had the philosophy that architectural photography is more interesting when you have a people in the shot. A person will give a sense of scale to the building or interior. It also helps you relate to what you’re seeing. And sometimes, it’s great just to have something to fill out the composition. In all cases, it makes the architecture feel more like a real place. It’s not always necessary to have people in the shot, but for many of my architectural clients, showing their design in use really helps them explain their aesthetic to their potential clients.

But, getting people to hold still in a natural pose for 3 to 4 seconds can be a challenge (interior exposures are always long). Often, I just let them go blurry. But there’s good blur and there’s bad blur. Getting good blur takes forethought, practice, and patience.

Here’s how I got some kids to hold still just enough for a shot at Otto Peteresen Elementary designed by DLR Group. It get’s pretty funny once they start “playing.” Who loves their clients? I do.


(video shot by the very talented Jake Stangel)

And here’s how the final shot came out.

Getting it Done with The Works

It’s been pretty busy summer here at LB Photo. Some great editorial work is coming out soon, but in the meantime I thought I’d recap some recent commercial work.

The Works is an amazing contractor and remodeler based in Portland, OR. They’ve been responsible for making some of the wonderful glamourous interiors designed by Jessica Helgerson come to life.  They recently hired me to shoot some of their own work and it was a pleasure to photograph. Here are some of my favorite shots from two shoots we did this summer.

Continue reading “Getting it Done with The Works” »