Behind The Scenes

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A few weeks ago, I posted the photo above with the caption “We’re going to move some furniture on this one…”

A lot of people wanted to see what we ended up with , so I’m posting it below. The great Arnold Newman said, “Photography is 1% talent, and 99% moving furniture,” and when it comes to architectural work, truer words have never been spoken! We move furniture on every shot we make. Sometimes it’s extreme, like above, sometimes it’s minor, but I’d be hard pressed to remember a shot where something didn’t get moved. Furniture arrangements that are symmetrical and common-sense in “real life” often look really weird from the camera’s two-dimensional perspective, so we move things into positions that make no sense at all to those of us with bifocal vision, but which make perfect sense to the camera. Often, we’re scouring the surroundings for props to fill in a room that’s not really looking quite right. Other times, it’s a matter of removing the majority of the crap that’s filtering out our beautiful photo

So, click the link to see the room as I arranged it. Which reminds me, I still have an outstanding $50 bet as to whether the management ultimately adopted my floor plan!

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Here’s the final shot, with about half of the furniture removed and shoved over to one side (out of sight) and the rest arranged in a what that opens up the room and allows it to make some sort of sense from the camera’s perspective. From Rochester, NY.

We’ve gone to great lengths, at times, over the years to get the shot. Below are a few of the highlights:

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Rigging a garden hose to enhance the flow of a weak fountain, somewhere in Southern California.

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Utilizing a carbon-based, voice-activated lightstand in the Vista Bar, Dubai (Fadi Kelada hanging on to a pretty nice Profoto strobe).

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Mountain View, California: Vertical blinds waving around in the breeze and messing up your long exposure? Tape ’em down.

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Siraj applies white gaff tape to the bottom of a pendant lamp to kill a reflection in the stainless steel below. High above the mean streets of San Francisco, California.

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Irvine, California: Steaming the tablecloth. A good Art Director isn’t too pretty to get down on his hands and knees and work for the shot! Thanks, Joel!

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More from Rochester, NY: Not moving furniture, but Alan specializes in rigging up ad hoc lighting solutions. Here he’s created a sort of matte box for an Arri 300.

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Flagging off light that’s coming from the wrong direction…in Los Altos California.

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Old-school perspective correction. Note the roll of gaff tape under the table leg, as well. Again in Los Altos.

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Putting the camera into wacky places is embarrassingly common. Yes, that’s a cooktop I’m sitting on…..in San Francisco.

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This has nothing to do with this post, except that it’s probably the most awesome BTS photo in the history of the world. In San Rafael, California.

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Second-most awesome BTS photo in the history of the world…this is why I invest in sturdy tripods. Because you just never know…

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Flagging off one side of an entire house. No problem.

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Flags and cards and hotlights and models and strobes….FUN. In San Francisco’s Millenium Tower.

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This is typical of what’s just adjacent to a photo location.

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Sweeping the walk (while the grip checks his email…ahem, Mike Kelley…)

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Talking it over (while the PA wrestles with the fireplace).

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And now everyone’s engaged with the fireplace….

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Food Styling by Cliff Shapiro: Chef, Snowboarder, Travel Junkie, Photographer, and PA Extraordinaire….

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Four lights for an area about 6′ x 8′.

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Creating a dining room from scratch!

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Moving weather balloons. Yes, you read that correctly. We moved the weather balloons. Don’t ask.

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Clothespins to tighten up Joy’s top (on the off-camera side).

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Booming a lightstand, with head & umbrella, out one window so it shines into another window.

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Prepping a bathroom. Lots of glass to clean.

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Another insane camera placement. Front leg of the tripod is clamped into a Bogen Superclamp on top of a lightstand.

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Styling and lighting product photography (the duvet cover and pillowcases).

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Alan builds a house of cards (and flags).

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Scrimming the view with a Single scrim cloth.

Lights, camera, Action! Art Director Kat Gentner watches images come in on the laptop, perched on the trunk of the town car, while I direct and shoot an (awesome) octagenarian model in the back seat.

Lights, camera, Action! Art Director Kat Gentner watches images come in on the laptop, perched on the trunk of the town car, while I direct and shoot an (awesome) octagenarian model in the back seat…somewhere in Greater Los Angeles.

Pre-dawn....waiting for the light, thinking about coffee. Truckee, California (near Lake Tahoe).

Pre-dawn….waiting for the light, thinking about coffee. Truckee, California (near Lake Tahoe).

Blending in...thobes and guthras are amazingly comfortable when it's 108 degrees fahrenheit...in Doha Qatar.

Blending in…thobes and guthras are amazingly comfortable when it’s 108 degrees fahrenheit…in Doha Qatar.

More heat, waiting for the light in Doha.

More heat, waiting for the light in Doha.

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Alan posing with an upside-down lightstand suspending a 500-watt light in exactly the right place..in the WordPress offices, San Francisco.

Don't just sit there....say something!