I found this from Seth Godin in my inbox this morning:
The intelligent writer who dumbs down her work in order to make it more popular.
The successful small businessperson who gives up the edge that made the business work in order to make it bigger.
The entrepreneur who stops leading in order to chase a trend and get funded.
The interesting website that stops caring about content so it can focus on clicks.
The happy kid who abandons good friends in a search to be the cool kid instead.
The beloved brand that walks away from integrity in order to chase mass.
The engaged employee who gives up the craft in order to move up and become an unhappy manager instead...
Bigger isn't better. It's merely bigger. And the mass market might want what the mass market wants, but that doesn't mean that it's your market.
At one time or another I think we've all lost our focus, put our passion on the back burner while we addressed more serious issues, resolve a crisis, etc.
This is fine for the short term, but it's crucial that we return to our passion once the crisis has passed.
After all our passions are why we in the creative fields do what we do, isn't it?
I've never known anyone who chose a creative career to become a master at crisis management, networking, or cold calling.
A San Francisco-based interior and architecture photographer with over 26 years of experience, Dean Birinyi brings a thoughtful approach to every project he shoots. Dean began his career as a portrait photographer, refining his skill set before turning to architecture and interior design for inspiration. At Dean Birinyi Photography, the photographer draws on his background in furniture design and construction to capture the true essence of residential and commercial spaces. Dean’s work has led his clients to receive prestigious design awards and has appeared in numerous shelter magazines.
The advances in digital photographic technology have lowered the bar for entry into the field as a professional.
This is in regard to both the degree of experience required to be considered a professional photographer and the investment into equipment.
When I began back in the 1990’s I invested thousands of dollars into my camera and lenses and thousands more into lighting.
With todays cameras supplemental lighting is becoming less important, replaced with photoshop skills.
To excel as a photographer it is important that we be more than good photoshop technicians.
We must be masters of composition as well as masters of light.
Selling the sizzle of Prairie Style from 1999, long before I moved to San Francisco for Throwback Thursday.
The idea behind dawn photographs of architecture is to get people to sit up and take notice with stunning imagery, not provide technical details.
Technical details are for professional competition.
You know what I like? Storytelling. Big, ambitious photographs that describe a contextually significant narrative. This ones narrative is "the arrival of the industrial spy.”
One advantage that my decades of shooting 4x5 in the chemical era gives me is mastery over light.
Today the use of digital cameras, powerful computer and software makes it much easier to capture well exposed images. Simply exposing for maximum detail in the highlights and shadows does not necessarily result in the creation of a spectacular photograph.
In my years as an architecture and interior photographer I’ve learned that the real difference between a memorable interpretive image that shares the experience of a design and a documentary representation of what a space looks like.
To put it another way the composition shows the steak, lighting creates the sizzle. And that’s what people really want especially those here in the San Francisco Bay Area where a simple kitchen remodel can top $80 - 100K.
My photographs are impressive, my compositions strong and my lighting is masterful because I work hard to make it so, but there is more to choosing an interiors photographer to work with than the quality of their work.
Below are seven fundamental aspects of myself that my existing clients value and appreciate.
- I value honesty, integrity, kindness, patience and loyalty above all else.
- I am punctual by nature and bring respectable technical skill, decades of experience and a mature creative talent to the table.
- I am willing to say the hard things with tact and compassion. - If a photograph my client has requested is not a good photograph I will say so, offering alternatives and ways to make it better.
- I actively seek input and ideas from my clients and other members of my creative team, by paying attention the their non-verbal language as well as their words I gain deeper insights into the design and a broader perspective on what my client envisions.
- I am disciplined, adaptable and persistent, once I have developed a vision for an image I stick with it until that vision is achieved, but...
- I will always respect your requests, follow your instructions and adapt to circumstances as needed.
- My client sets my goals, then I take the lead. I acting decisively working to achieve our goals and do it beautifully, creating images that are descriptive of the designers artistic intent, while capturing the mood and emotional qualities of the space along with the social and psychological context of the design.
If these are qualities you find desirable in a photographer, please call me. Whether you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, or not we should be working together.
All the way back the height of the chemical era for this one.
This image was shot on 4x5 with transparency film using 4x5 B/W Polaroid for field review of composition and exposure.
I never bothered with color Polaroid because the color was bad.
I relied on my color temperature meter, my experience and my “feel” for the representation of color by the film.
Today it's much easier because we can review accurate color on site.
A shot from very early in my career for Throwback Thursday. All the way back to 1993. The second year I was in business as an interiors and architecture photographer.
This was shot for a spec builder who would send me into empty homes. I credit working with this client for the strength of my compositions throughout my career. You can see the impact on my images in everything I shoot today in San Francisco and throughout my career.
I feel it's important to speak with my clients face-to-face when discussing their work.
It's not the words a designer chooses to describe a project that helps me understand their ideas, but their expression, the lift of an eyebrow or a subtle hand gesture as they talk about their work that gives me the insight I need to "get inside their head", capture the designers intent and communicate their design concept.
This is the way we used to do it before we had email.
It’s more time consuming, and difficult to coordinate schedules to arrange a face-to-face meeting than to send a five line email while waiting for your next meeting to start, but the end result is worth it.
The project took months and often years to complete, you personally have hundreds and maybe thousands of man hours invested in it.
The photographs I create are going to be in your portfolio for twenty years or more.
I can’t imagine better reasons to invest time in talking about what you did.
I was recently faced with a challenging situation. A client needed interior photographs of the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco. The hospital authorized us to shoot for one day, but we had two days of work and we had two days - less than forty-eight hours - to prepare.
So, we pulled a double. Sixteen hours on the job. It worked out wonderfully thanks to the combined efforts of the team: Interior Designer, Kai-Yee Woo, Architects Project Manager Michael Wang, Architects Marketing Manager Rachel Royce, Marketing Consultant Andy Hill, and Multiple Models.
My two assistants, Ellen Williams and Josh Franta were great. They stuck with me every step of the way without a complaint, pulled their load and did a great job of both following instrutions and correcting errors.
I couldn’t have done it without them. I credit my experience in the US Navy with giving me the discipline. logistical and leadership skills I needed to organize and successfully an interiors photography shoot on such short notice.
It was fun and I was in my element - high pressure, high expectations and demanding schedule.
The final images look great, but won't be revealed until after publication.
I did this add for Gina Viscusi back in 2009.
Still a fun shot.
This series is the first time I intergrated human figures into my photographs of interiors.
You can see the value of having a narrative to work with.
Last Friday I and my crew pulled a double shift to shoot the interiors of the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco.
16 hours is a long day, but interior photography of hospitals presents unique regulatory challenges that require going above and beyond.
I was really in my element that day. The pressure was on and the scheduling was tight. Everything had to work perfectly. Thanks to my experience, the leadership training I got in the US Navy and the commitment of my team, with only one easily resolved complication everything went the way I had planned it.
When I blogged with Blogger in 2012 this was my most popular post, over 75,000 views.
Today’s architectural photograph is the First Place Award Winner in the small bathroom category of the 2012 NKBA Northern California Design Competition. This residential bathroom in Campbell, CA was shot in 2011 for Angela Victoria Rasmussen of H2H Design and Build.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to offer advice about photographing small bathrooms, below is my best effort on this matter without giving away the content of my IDCEC 0.2 CEU “Photography for Interior Designers” (#8369) (Yes, I am available for bookings. :)
Small bathrooms and powder rooms are a technical challenge for photographers because the limited space and the prevalence of reflective surfaces makes it impossible to light sufficiently, or nearly so. I work with available light and the HDR, or tonemapping technique so this isn’t one of my concerns. My images capture the character and atmosphere of the space as the designer intended because I’m not forced to attempt to recreate a semblance of the character and atmosphere through artificial means.
I work to create images that capture the essential nature of the space, directing my energies on communicating the design concept not the technicalities of lighting for photography or the cascading complications of altering the space to suit the mechanical limitations of the camera. I capture the design concept because I focus my attention on the artistry of the design - the graceful flow and form of the designers vision not the avoiding the distraction of artificial externalities.
Stuff is not your design
The first thing you have to remember when photographing small bathrooms, or any space or structure really, is that you’re photographing design not stuff. Anyone can put those beautiful soaps, that imported towel, that hand made tile from Barcelona that slab of granite for the vanity top in their bathroom. Adding “stuff” will not help show your design well, unless the “stuff” is in context to the situation you are photographing.
Less is more, before you put that beautifully ornate soap dish on the vanity ask yourself if you really need it next to the liquid soap dispenser. Remember that you’re not in the business of selling soap dishes you’re in the business of creating artistic design, photograph that.
Seeing the space before you
To get great photographs you need to see the space as an artistic abstraction, free of preconceptions and emotional investment, divorced from your relationship with the client, contractor or supplier and you cannot allow your insecurities to direct your efforts. Just because you fought with the contractor to get that light fixture mounted on mirror two inches to the left doesn’t mean it’s worth photographing. You need to step back and see the space for what it is, and as it is not how you would have liked it to have been if the client had another twenty-thousand dollars, or if they had gone with your original idea for the backsplash.
Focus on what you can show
We all know that we need a wide angle lens. The award winning bathroom show here is shot with a 12mm anastigmatic lens, most people reading this don’t have the resources to spend thousands of dollars on a lens. If you only have a 35, 28 or 24mm lens you won’t be able to show everything in one shot, don’t worry about it. I can’t show everything in one shot even with my lenses. You simply have to accept your limitations and work within them. Focus on what you can show not what you can’t. If you need to do a shot of the vanity then do the best shot of the vanity you can and do another for the shower partition and a third for the cabinetry, use your artistic talents to create a composition that is pleasing, engaging and tells the story of your design. Remember you're an artist, you can do this.
I attended a brand building seminar by Joui Turnadot at Coupar Consulting this morning.
It was very interesting. I volunteered to be the example for the audience.
I was told I should focus in standing out by making use of my thoughtful, deliberate, considered approach.
And to tell people I work to communicate the mood, character and emotional qualities of the designs I photograph.
Last week I attended the inaugural DeisgnLive event at the Vogue Theater in San Francisco.
It was lots of fun and I learned a few new things that I can apply to my interiors photography, the most welcoming was the demise of "Shabby Chic.".
I recently began exploring time lapse photography.
It’s a lot of fun.
It started when a client asked me to do a conceptual time lapse of one of their projects, titled “Fenestration”
I just did this feature on an Eichler for a residential GC I work with, titled “Twilight Eichler”
I’m very pleased with the results and am really enjoying the technique.
I’ll be doing more as time goes on. You can see my video collection in the Videos section of my portfolios.
Long before moving to San Francisco I fell in love with available light when photographing interiors but have always supplemented, or enhanced the available light.
- When I learned to photograph interiors back in the early ’90’s it was imperative that we use supplemental lighting.
- The chemical film process had restrictions that could only be overcome with supplemental lighting.
- I have always used supplemental lighting with a delicate and disciplined hand, working only to enhance the character and emotional context of the spaces I photographed.
- Today it’s easier to work with available light, but I still prefer using some supplemental light on most of my images, much less and with much greater finesse now than back then, but I still feel it make a difference for most residential and commercial interiors.
I go to great lengths to do a pre-production walk through of all the projects I shoot because the effort pays off ten-fold.
Interior design is an experiential art form. My photographs share my experience of the project. I cannot share that experience while I am having it.
I feel it is important as an interiors photographer to do a pre-production tour of a project, preferably a few days before we shoot. This provides the specific benefits of:
• Having time to think about how to present the project
• Consult with the designer about styling an bring in specific styling elements
• Planning an effective and efficient workflow
Back in the early '90's, long before I moved to San Francisco I decided to always tour the projects I photograph.
If I cannot do so before the day of the shoot on my arrival I make the time to tour the project, form my first impressions and think through how we can create the best, most powerful images possible.