Hunter Douglas

Blackout the Glass House

If you’re a fan of architecture, you’ve probably heard of Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, CT. This famous modern architectural home has been photographed repeatedly over the past 50 years by the best photographers in the world. And just recently, it was my turn!

About five months ago, Hunter Douglas’ Creative Director Don Montgomery reached out to me with a uniquely challenging project. Hunter Douglas was releasing a new total-blackout shade system, which their creative team decided to promote by installing in the least likely of places: a famous all-glass house.

Because we only had 7 hours to document this entire project, I decided to shoot it on my Canon 5D Mk IV. It’s a very nimble camera with a lot of dynamic range. I also used Canon’s architectural lenses for their excellent sharpness and shift capabilities, both of which are necessary to properly shoot architecture. As for the lighting, it consisted of a mix of natural light, available lamps, and a set of Arri tungsten fresnels.

So how do you shoot something intended to eliminate light? Very carefully and thoughtfully! I employed every lighting technique I could think of to capture shots that favorably exhibit the product and its effect while still respecting the historical architecture. After all, this product really is amazing; when it’s entirely down, no light comes in whatsoever. Even when we opened certain shades, the room remained incredibly dark.

Alongside me were my digital tech Esteban Aladro and 1st assistant Mike Grippi. These guys worked extra hard due to some heavy late-morning rain and a lack of electricity in the house. We rented a gas-powered generator which Mike rigged up so it could function outside and be protected from the rain. Right before we’d shoot, Mike would run out and squeegee the windows clean. Overall, we had to work extremely diligently to get through each shot while proofing everything to art director Anna Yumul in Adobe Lightroom.

The final shots are some of my absolute favorites, and I feel tremendously honored that Hunter Douglas entrusted me to capture them. I don’t think we’ll ever see the Glass House look quite like this ever again. As such, it truly was a special shoot for me.

Hunter Douglas “Beauty Awakens” Ad Campaign

Okay, I’ve been excited to share things before, but this takes the cake. It’s the feather in my cap. It’s the bees knees to Nth degree. It’s the biggest ad campaign my work has been featured in… ever… or least in my 16 year career so far.

I’ve loved this shot ever since I took it for Hunter Douglas. It’s really me all summed up in one picture: architectural, great styling, people naturally placed, beautiful light, and technically superb. It’s flawless, yet relaxed… timeless, yet real.

And now, Hunter Douglas is using it as an iconic hero photograph in a massive fall print ad campaign. Over the next three months, you will see this double-page ad featured in the following magazines:

That’s a lot of ink! I just picked up some of the September issues. Guess what’s in all these magazines?

HD-Campaign_Covers

Boom!

HD-Campaign_Tears

Now, that’s how you do a brand awareness campaign.

When asked why they decided to go with this shot for the campaign, Hunter Douglas’ VP Creative Director, Donald Montgomery, simply said, “It’s the best shot we have.”

And I’m done. Drop the mic, exit stage left. Thank you to everyone helped me out on this shoot. I couldn’t have done it without you. Big hugs and high fives all around.

Stylist: Bergren Rameson
Photography Art Direction: Nicole Stowe – Ramey
Producer: Heather Smith – Smith X Union
Model: Nicole Herold
Location Scout: Lisa Rothmuller – San Diego Locations
Camera: Alpa XY with PhaseOne Digital Back from Capture Integration


Are you ready to make an iconic photograph for your brand?

Contact me today about your vision and I will make it happen for you.

Hunter Douglas Case Study

Summary

Since 2013, I’ve been hired by Hunter Douglas to help them create photography, time-lapse, and video for their dealer books, trade show materials, website, social media, in store display… basically everything. The first time I worked with them, they actually flew out to Portland just to meet me to see if we’d be a good fit. This was such a great idea considering the scope of the project and need to help me understand how they like to work. They work with a very select group of photographers and I needed to be vetted by them. I gave them a tour of the city and showed off some possible locations for the first shoot we did in Oregon. We definitely hit it off in that initial meeting and have had several successful shoots since then. I really enjoy shooting for Hunter Douglas because they are super dedicated to creating quality work. Quality is something I truly value as a person and a photographer/image maker.

For this blog post, I’d like to share a little of what it takes to do this level of production. I’ve spent my whole career getting to a point where I can offer this level of service. I have the experience, the resources, and the fortitude to handle anything that comes my way. This case study will help you get an idea of how working with me can achieve amazing results.

Pre-Production

One of the unique things about shooting for Hunter Douglas is that the shades we shoot are custom made for each location. Their high end product is designed to custom fit to any kind of window, so they have to manufacture them just for the shoot. My producer and I work with a location scout to find homes that fit the art direction for each product on the shot list. Once we’ve narrowed it down to 10-12 locations, the HD team and I come out for 2 day location scout trip. During the site visits, I’m looking for angles at each location and giving my ideas for how we can accomplish the goals for each shot. While we’re there, the installers work on measuring the windows to build the product for the shoot. After the scout, I organize the scouting photos and the HD team selects the final 4-5 locations and then starts manufacturing the product.

Now is when it really kicks in gear for me. Six weeks prior to shoot, we start having weekly pre-pro calls with my producer Heather Smith (www.smithandunion.com), the stylist, and the team at HD. We work with them on finalizing the shot list and help the stylist find resources for props and furniture. We run through all the scenarios and come up with a schedule for the shoot. Since we have to install the product, sometimes getting just one large room set can take half a day. Our last shoot had 15 hero shots and it took 14 days (we shot a lot of details and video, too). Finally, my producer and I hire the best crew, book all the equipment rental, and then find the most delicious food trucks available for catering. That’s right, work with me and you get treated!

The Shoot

I usually start with something easy, like a shot without a lot of prop changes and an easy product to install. I coordinate the HD installers so that they’re always ahead of us and I’m not waiting on them to setup the next shot. After we finish a shot, they then have to take down the product they put up. It’s quite a dance. Especially if we’re doing things like making a living room look like a bedroom.

On these shoots, I’m using a Phase One 100MP Medium Format Digital Back on an Alpa view camera. I love shooting with view cameras because every lens has the movements you need to shoot architecture properly in camera. Plus the lenses a extremely sharp and the level of detail is unparalleled to any DSLR. My photo crew includes a digital tech, a 1st assistant, and a 2nd assistant. Plus the production team has 3 or 4 PAs running around helping all of us move thing around. It’s a lot of fun and I have a great team. All of them working hard to help me create the vision for Hunter Douglas.

Retouching

After the shoot, I send off layered PSDs to HDs preferred retoucher with detailed notes on what needs to be retouched. It’s usually not much other than basic cleanup as I am a firm believer in getting it in camera as much as you can. Sometimes, we’ll make creative decisions that only retouching can solve, but I’ll save that for another blog post.

Results

Once the finals come back, they get put into Hunter Douglas’s image library and then go out to be used for multiple applications including dealer books, social media, sales presentations, and their website. It’s a big job, but my team and I make it come off easy, fun, and deliver the incredible images below.

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Do you need help with your photography project? I would love the opportunity to help you create beautiful images in a timely and stress free way. I’ve made a super easy booking form to get the information I need to get start. Just click the button below:

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Hunter Douglas Beauty Books

I recently added a new Featured Work Gallery for two shoots I did for Hunter Douglas’s Luminette and Nantucket product lines. The photos we created for these shoots were used in their dealer sample books, website, social media, marketing materials, you name it!

Both shoots were HUGE productions. Unlike other architectural product shoots where the product is already in place, we had to find locations with the right type of windows and then Hunter Douglas custom made their window fashions to fit the locations. We did multiple days of location scouting about month before each shoot. Hunter Douglas then fabricated the custom product and shipped them to me for holding; something like 70 boxes, 4 to 10 ft in length, and a foot or so wide. It was quite a logistical challenge to find a place to store them for the shoots. I ended up renting a warehouse for one shoot and a conference room at our hotel for the other.

In addition to my producer, two assistants, and a digital tech, we had a crew of about dozen including a lead stylist, stylist assistants, installers, furniture movers, plus an art director and 3 or 4 clients at a time. Lots of people! On our last shoot in San Diego, we had so many people we just hired a food truck to cater. It was awesome and delicious.

Each shot requires a lot of set up. Just installing the product can take half a day. Once the product is up, we then compose, style, and light each shot. We’re maybe getting 1 to 2 hero shots done in a day at each location.

Gear wise, I used the ALPA Max and Alpa XY with the Phase One IQ250 Digital Back. I won’t geek out too much on gear here, but if you’re interested check out the links above.

It’s been a great brand to shoot for and the people I work for are just awesome. For as big as these shoots were, both went off without a hitch and the client was super happy with results. It must be going well, because they’re having me out again this year for a 10 day shoot in June.

High Fives to all the folks I’ve worked with on these shoots, especially Karen Beck, Heather Smith, Bergren Rameson, Mike Grippi, Ben Canales, Kennett Morhman, and Garrett Priddy. Love you all!

Check out the full gallery of images here: https://www.lincolnbarbour.com/work/hunter-douglas/

Thanks!