Mulberry San Francisco

I’m used to doing maybe 10 photos in a day, tops, over an 8 or 9-hour shoot… when I got an assignment last month from Mulberry of London to shoot their new store in San Francisco’s Union Square I was a little shocked to learn that I would need to come up with 15 or 20 views, interior and exterior, in about 4 hours.


This is where having a background in real estate photography comes in really handy. I showed up at 5:30am, and met Donna Lesh, the Visual Merchandising Manager for Mulberry US. In fog so thick I had to wipe off the lens for each shot (yeah…summer in San Francisco), we did the exteriors, then moved inside. The store was slated for it’s Grand Opening at 10:00am, so we had no time to lose.

Donna had been pulling 20-hour days all week, and had been on-site since about 4:00am, so coffee became an integral part of the shoot.

I had identified the key areas of the store during a chaotic, mid-construction walkthrough with Donna earlier in the week. I started with wide establishing shots, and then drilled in tighter, working my way from the front of the store to the back, and then upstairs.

Donna was sharp as a tack, despite fatigue. I’d adjust a handbag, and she’d be right there: “We don’t display handbags at an angle,” she’d say, putting it back to within a millimeter of where it had been. I’d show her the laptop and point out the compositional issue I was trying to resolve, and she’d re-style an entire table for me. It was awesome.

It would have been tons of fun to have people in these shots, but that idea got nixed very early in the process (although I snuck one in anyway….not sure if anyone’s noticed it yet.)

By 9:45 I was getting phone calls from the marketing manager, in London. “We need 2 hero shots, STAT,” she said. We negotiated on that one for a couple minutes and agreed that I’d cut the shot list a little, and use the store Wifi to upload 2 photos from my laptop, by 11:00am local.

Literally as the doors opened and customers walked in, I slipped upstairs to the still-barren office area, sat on the floor, and prepped an exterior and interior shot, and uploaded them. I pushed the equipment cart out the delivery door and onto a now-sunny Grant Street at 11:00am, sharp — Mission Accomplished!

Jackie in the marketing office wasn’t fooling around — the images have seen some serious play, everywhere from SFGate to Dwell, Refinery29, and Haute Living. And a zillion more places. If the pictures on those sites look a little warm, well  — its why we try not to edit in a hurry, on a laptop!!

17 responses to “Mulberry San Francisco

  1. Impressive stuff Scott!! We missed out on meeting in Spain. I’ll be in Miami from next week on for a few years. Love to meet up some day!


  2. Hi Scott, thanks for chronicling the back story on this shoot. It’s always interesting to hear from the pros how they manage to pull off a project. Even better, something this demanding. Beautiful images. Well done!

  3. Really impressive time management Scott, especially with such a demanding space to shoot. Very interesting reading, and inspiring as always. Well done, and thanks.

  4. Scott, it sounds like you are shooting tethered for a job like this. What’s your rig for holding the laptop?

  5. @Malia…I believe the person is reflected in the mirror right on the magic left third line, near the upper portion just before the windows…Scott can confirm.

  6. Good job on the photos! And I guess this is another good example of why it’s always a good plan to have it almost perfect in the camera!

  7. Scott – I really doesn’t get better than these. Would you please join google+ already? There are a ton of us tapping our fingers over there, waiting for you to join. I think most of the old Flickr PFRE crew is there.

  8. Kerry Puckett

    Scott this is incredible, both the photos, the backstory, and how well you managed to keep to such a tight schedule and honor a last minute special request. Looking at the window brightness in these I’m guessing you used a lot (or almost all?) ambient for many of these?

    Great work,

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Michael Pennello

    Scott, great looking interiors as usual. Did you light any of these or did you do any exposure blending to hold down the highlights?

  10. Great images!

  11. Scott, awesome images!
    Like Kerry and Michael, I’d also be interested in hearing how you managed the shoot from the technical side, in regards to the lighting challenges ( ambient and/or supplement ) and how involved was post production?

  12. OK…I’ll put together a “technique” post on this shoot. Might be a few days!

  13. Love this set of images, great work Scott.

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