April 26 and 27 marked this years Heart of the Home tour, a fundraising event for the Children’s Support League of the East Bay. We’re proud to say that one of our photos graces the cover of the the directory, as well as many of the marketing materials promoting the event. We’ve been serving as the “official photographer” for the event for several years, providing our time and resources pro-bono. Usually the exposure comes back to us in additional business, so in addition to supporting a good cause we usually see a return on our investment. It’s always fun to see these fabulous homes and to work with the staff of CSL. We photograph the projects in January so that the organizers have material for marketing. Photos of the houses also appear in April issue of Diablo Magazine Also, on pages 50 through 55.
On Monday, March 4 we put the drone in the air for our first commercial client. We photographed a property in San Francisco for Marcus & Millichap. Having jumped through the hoops to obtain FAA certification and lined up insurance and such, we’re now in the air.
We’d like to say congratulations to one of our clients, HDR Remodeling for taking the 2019 Contractor of the Year award from NARI, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. We’d like to think our photography was instrumental in winning the award. This award is for an ADU, an Accessory Dwelling Unit. These projects are becoming quite popular in the San Francisco Bay Area where there is a high demand for housing. You can read more about this project on HDR’s website. We’ve photographed several ADU projects for HDR as well as those for several other clients.
Despite the rain and overcast we’ve managed to complete several photo shoots this week. Monday, February 11 we spent the day photographing projects for Gilman’s Kitchens and Baths. With a crew of four we were able to photograph three projects, a project in Campbell, which took the better part of the morning, then a mid-century remodel in Portola Valley and finally a kitchen in Foster City. We left my house at 7 am and were back at 7 pm. The weather worked to our advantage on Monday. For much of the interior photography we do I prefer the soft light of overcast skies. This produces a nice soft light and it helps bring the landscape in without too much contrast. You can see this in the photo above. The green vegetation in the windows seems to compliment the design of the room.
Why does it take four people to photograph a house? I like to have one person on the crew that knows the client’s story and can art direct to make sure we’re capturing the images that tell that story. I also like to have somebody as a stylist that can arrange flowers and props and such. Finally, I like to have an assistant that knows my gear and can help with the technical aspects of creating an image. This might involve putting up drapes or flags to control unwanted reflections. It’s also more fun to work with a crew, particularly if we’ve worked together before and can develop a rhythm to how we work.
Here’s the crew for our photo shoot for this years Heart of the Home Tour which will take place in April. Great fun with a great group of people.
Last week, on January 9 and 11 we photographed three of the houses that will be on the tour. I’ll keep those photos under wraps for the time being. We get an early start in January so that the tour organizers can use the photos to generate the tour brochure and other promotional materials. The tour is a fund raising event for the Children’s Support League of the East Bay. The homes are in Piedmont and neighboring parts of Oakland. This is the sixth year we’ve provided services as the “tour photographer.” We provided our services pro-bono and if history repeats itself, the exposure will be well worth the time we invest.
Of the 14 companies listed in The Best General Contractors in Oakland, we can claim eight of those companies as our clients. Not a bad statistic considering how many general contractors provide services in Oakland. Check out the article in the current issue of General Contractor Magazine. Of the companies listed we’ve provided photography for Oliver Builders, Rasmussen Construction, Black Creek Builders, Wolfe, Design Set Match, Alward Construction Company, HDR Remodeling, and McCutcheon Construction. We feel like we’re in good company.
One of our clients, Levitch Associates, Inc. is featured in the December East Bay AIA ARCHNews. The article describes the challenges of a residential remodeling project in East Bay city of Albany. The article includes several photos we captured of the project including the kitchen and bath. We’ve photographed over three dozen projects for Levitch in the past three years, with projects ranging from residential remodels to salon and restaurant remodels. The Levitch website features much of our work. We’ll be photographing more work for Levitch in 2019.
We recently had the opportunity to photograph a remodel of a magnificent house in Napa. We arrived on location at 10:00 in the morning and spent the day photographing both interior and exterior features. One of our specialties is photographing projects like this at dusk. Towards dusk when the sun starts to set and the skylight starts to dim the interior of the house comes to life. When photographing earlier in the day the windows tend to look like black holes.
We were here for a re-shoot. The client was not happy with the photos that resulted from the previous photo shoot with another photographer. It seems that photographer provided photos that served as vignettes, showing particular details. Architects and contractors are interested in photos that represented more expansive photos of the interior and exterior spaces. So we set out with that in mind.
While I like to work solely with available light, the previous photographer used lights. Using lights can be time consuming. Every light you put up creates it’s own highlights and shadows and getting the resulting mix of lights to look natural takes skill. With natural light I like to play with the existing shadows and highlights, which I believe can add drama and life.
I was told by one of the crew members that was on the previous shoot that we seemed to be paying more attention to composition and aesthetics where the previous photographer was preoccupied with the lights.
A couple of photos we recently captured for Harrell Remodeling , Inc. appears in the November issue of Qualified Remodeler.
The article talks about outdoor living, featuring an outdoor living area that include a gazebo, an outdoor kitchen and a fire pit. Harrell Remodeling designed and built the project. You can read the article here.
I’ve been very busy the past few weeks. Here’s what one week looked like, with six shoots in seven days. On Saturday October 27 we were at Ashby Lumber’s Concord store to capture photos for their new website. One of the location on that site is their milling facility.
While it might not be as glamorous as some of the jobs we shoot, it did prove challenging. The lighting in the milling facility presented an extreme range of light values with bright sun streaming in the barn door openings, a dark interior an people working the big band saw. To manage this we set up the camera to capture multiple exposures. We used Photomatix with the ghosting option to remove the ghosting caused by people in different positions in different exposures. On Sunday October 28 we were at the Berkeley store.
On Monday morning we photographed a whole house remodel in the Sea Cliff region of San Francisco for Stephen Barlow Architect, an out-of-town architect based in New York. We started on the top floor of the project with the bedroom/solarium and worked our way down four flights of stairs to the basement.
Tuesday morning found us photographing a bathroom remodel in Berkeley for Levitch Design/Build Associates.
Thursday we took the day off and I went paddling with some kayaking buddies. More on that at wherestreve.com.
On Friday morning, it was another project for Levitch Design/Build Associates. A basement/garage remodel that included a kitchenette.
Then after a few hours of down time we headed to the Westfield Shopping Center in San Francisco to photograph store displays for Adidas. For this gig we start after the store closes at 8:30 in the evening and work for a couple of hours to capture the images the client needs.
The demand for our services seems to keep growing.