Today is the date of my inaugural post to Tastefully Inspired.

This being my first post here at Tastefully Inspired I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.

My name is Dean Birinyi. I’m an interior and architecture photographer in San Francisco. I’ve been specializing in photographing architecture and interior design for thirty years. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.

I will be writing on matters of interior and hospitality design from my unique perspective of a photographer of architecture and design.

Lets get started.--

A new designer with an updated sense of traditional design:

I had the opportunity to work with Janine Arrietta of JAS Interior Designs to photograph the Tuscany Clubhouse at Foothill Ranch in Southern California.

“This design encapsulates the Tuscan charm for friends and family to come together for a laid-back experience under the Tuscan sun.”

Janine Arrietta, ASID

Janine took the 2017 Emerging Professional Design Award from ASID California Peninsula with this, her first project out of design school.

Using bold patterns, a warm palette and her own unique design sense, Janine created a welcoming contemporary community space while maintaining the Tuscan charm of the project theme.

A vision, a mood and a sense of place:

I asked janine to describe her design challenge and her vision.

The design concept was “Under the Tuscan Sun”

  • A private clubhouse set within a homeowners’ community with a Mediterranean style was stricken with age and water damage. Client wished for a relaxing, warm and fun space adaptable for all ages. “Better than good” was the expectation. 
  • Capitalizing on high-pitched ceilings and strong architectural features, design decisions placing an oversized wall mural of a Tuscan landscape in the entry; curating custom art collections of aged brass door knobs and oversized keys sourced at architectural salvaged yards; reclaimed wood shelving and ceiling-suspended lighting create a timeless beauty with a sense of nostalgia.
  • Adding elegance with touches of sophistication, the spaces are dressed with beautiful window treatments.
  • Flexible comfortable seating encouraging conversation and play for private parties was important to client, and “feel good” contract grade fabrics were selected for longevity and easy maintenance.
  • An earthy warm color palette of ocher, orange and green with accents of neutral grays and mixed metals supported by verdant plants soften the environment creating an “outside-in” feel emanating joy.
  • Details such as plank wood flooring, terracotta tile, burnished copper, limestone-looking engineered stone, classically-shaped objects, and apron sink reinforce the Tuscan rustic villa charm, rustic beauty, and old-world décor.
  • This space encapsulates the Tuscan charm for friends and family to come together for a laid-back experience under the Tuscan sun.

"I love the billiard room. The refinished pool table, various seating areas
and floor pillows makes for an adaptable space."

Janine did a great job and should be very proud of her work. I'm looking forward to watching her talents evolve in the coming years.


Janine Arrietta is the owner of JAS Interior Designs in San Jose, CA.

I'm looking forward to expanding my reach on the Tastefully Inspired platform..

I was studying “Criticizing Photographs” by Terry Barrett and came across this quote by Sadakichi Hartmann from 1904:

“Rely on your camera, your eye, on your good taste and your knowledge of composition, consider every fluctuation of color, light and shade, study lines and values and space division, patiently wait until the scene or object of your pictured vision reveals itself in its supremest moment or beauty.”

As an interior photographer this is the best description of how I approach photographing interiors I’ve ever heard.

This is what I strive to do on each and every photograph of architecture and interior design in I create. 

When telling the story of a designers vision I like to create a gestalt view and create more intimate vignettes.

Viscusi Elson Interior Design - Gold Award – Single Family Res
Viscusi Elson Interior Design - Gold Award – Single Family Res

I feel it’s important to show the details, rather than stick with broad sweeping statements that, by nature tend to be "wordy". It’s rare that a single shot can capture the depth of a designers creative vision, or showcase the entire range of their talents.

#deanbirinyiphoto #onassignmment #interiors #photo #photographer #photoshoot #photooftheday #photography #architecturalphotography #interiordesign #design #california #residential

I'm very pleased and proud to have my image "Ghost Fence" selected to be in the 2017 50/50 show at Sanchez Gallery in Pacifica.

Artist reception is April 21 7 - 9.

Ghost Fence

Ghost Fence

AuthorDean Birinyi

Great news! My client Sabrina Alfin of Sabrina Alfin Interiors has been published, once again.


Blue Liivngroom by Sabrina Alfin published on

Blue Liivngroom by Sabrina Alfin published on

I found this from Seth Godin in my inbox this morning:

Tricked into playing the wrong game
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.

Too, true.

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.

AuthorDean Birinyi

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.

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. 

  1. I value honesty, integrity, kindness, patience and loyalty above all else.
  2. I am punctual by nature and bring respectable technical skill, decades of experience and a mature creative talent to the table.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.   
  5. 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... 
  6. I will always respect your requests, follow your instructions and adapt to circumstances as needed. 
  7. 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.


National Federation for the Blind, Colorado Chapter for Garth Braun Assoc.

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. 

Snowflake Ceiling for Patrik Davis Associates

Snowflake Ceiling for Patrik Davis Associates

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.

Myself at the camera, Josh Franta being patient and well disciplined with Ellen Williams working the computer.

Myself at the camera, Josh Franta being patient and well disciplined with Ellen Williams working the computer.

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.

"Breaking News" part of the Design the Celebrates Life Campaign for Viscusi Elson Interior Design.

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.

From the left we see my first assistant, Ellen Williams, Model Carol Kuong, Interior Designer Kai-Yee Woo, my second assistant Josh Franta (foreground), stylist and consultant Andy Hill and myself, Dean Birinyi behind the camera. Michael Wang the project manager is taking this photograph.

Not shown are the five other models and all the members of the hospital staff and construction contractor that helped us throughout the day.

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. 

Proud to announce my client, Sabrina Alfin of Sabrina Alfin Interiors is published in this months Consumer Reports magazine on page 52 with my image of her kitchen in San Carlos, CA.


It's nice to be held out as a standard.

Sept 2016 Consumer Reports

When I blogged with Blogger in 2012 this was my most popular post, over 75,000 views.

First Place Small Bathrooms
NKBA Northern California
Private Residence
Campbell, CA
Angela Victoria Rasmussen
H2H Design and Build

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


Angela Rasmussen - House 2 Home Design and Build

First Place Small Bathrooms
NKBA Northern California
Private Residence
Campbell, CA
Angela Victoria Rasmussen
H2H Design and Build

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.


AuthorDean Birinyi