Los Altos Traditional, by Brownhouse Design


I loved this scene from the moment I first scouted this shoot. The mirrored grid pattern of the floor/ceiling, the arched doorways, and the swirling swooping sweeping curve of the staircase make for a very dynamic composition! We used blackout cloth to kill the daylight coming in from camera left, and re-lit the stairs from above with continuous light “boomed” out over the risers. Strobes in the adjoining spaces maintain good color and draw the eye into the living room.

More design happiness from Julie Brown, principal of Brownhouse Design. Here’s a Los Altos Traditional done by Julie and her team that we photographed back in May. Built by Matt Komo at MJK Homes, this place was TIGHT.


Other than removing some electrical outlets, this is straight out of the camera. We more or less emptied the lighting cases for this shot! But the real challenge of a complex space like this is the styling.

We had a good time with this kitchen. Stylist Kathy Price did a really wonderful job with this room, and we had the resources (e.g. time, & crew) to really do it right. So of course, we made a few “derivative” shots before we broke it all down:


Made with the Schneider Super-Angulon 50mm TS lens — what a joy to shoot with this gem!


…and this one was made with a 70-200 zoom. Pro tip: don’t leave your tele lenses behind when shooting interiors!



The painting at image right is actually being held (manfully, for a 15-second exposure) by Jonah the Super Grip.


The trick in a room like this is to maintain the illusion that all the light is coming in through the window, even though we’re adding fill from elsewhere.


I composed this bath (in part) with the view in the mirror in mind. The hallway (which is what you’re looking at, reflected) was lit and gelled so that it works with the vertical stripes in the bath itself.


This might be the furthest thing from the “money shot” on this project, but it’s still a Scott Hargis photo, and deserves my best effort! We worked pretty hard on this – with one PA trying to pack gear to head home, the other kept having to run down and re-build it for this shot, since I ultimately needed three strobes.


We waited all day for some blue sky so we could shoot the exterior of this house.

I’ll leave you with a few BTS shots. Enjoy!


Siraj watches as Jonah stretches a scrim over the window.


Jonah readies the magenta (minus-green) gels before applying them to the under-cabinet lights. This is the most tedious, horrible job on the set…


Still at it, 20 minutes later…


Jonah takes a hit for the team while testing a strobe placement.


Siraj. This means either, “OK”…..or “This is how much shit I’m taking from you, Bitch.” I’m sure he meant OK…

2 responses to “Los Altos Traditional, by Brownhouse Design

  1. It may sound odd, but that bathroom/bedroom shot is one of my favorites, along with the 70-200mm kitchen shot. I shoot RE for agents and do the same thing in every shot. It doesn’t matter that it’s not important, if it has your name on it, it’s gotta be lit right. What a truth!!!

    Thanks for sharing these brilliant pictures!!!

    PS – how many flashes are you rocking in that hallway? 5? One in each opening and none in the hallway itself?


  2. Love the bts and your willingness to share.

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