A BLOG CONCERNING PHOTOGRAPHY, ARCHITECTURE & INTERIOR DESIGN

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Andalusia at Coral Mountain

Style Two Patio & Pool
Style Two Patio & Pool

In December of 2012, Roger and I had the pleasure of photographing in La Quinta, California, at the lovely Andalusia country club. Set against the stunning mountain backdrop of the Santa Rosa Mountains, Andalusia at Coral Mountain celebrates the spirit of southern Spain, with both architecture and lush landscaping.

Our assignment was to document six new model homes, each furnished by internationally renowned interior designers Barclay Butera, Darrell Schmitt and Beth Ann Shepherd. The unique styles represented in each of the homes are inspiring and the views (every home in the club opens up to patios overlooking the sublime golf course) can’t be beat. For that matter, neither could this assignment!

Check out our photography of the six homes below or view more images from the project here.

Get the Most Benefit From Your Real Estate Listing

Professional Photography
Professional Photography

When the time comes to place a property on the market, home sellers are faced with the question of whether or not to use photos in their real estate listing to help sell their home. You’ve heard the expression "a picture is worth a thousand words", but does the use of photos actually make it easier to sell a home and is the cost worth it?. The short answer to both those questions, according to a January 10th article in The Wall Street Journal, is ‘yes’.

A 2011 study, "On the Relationship Between Property Price, Time-on-Market, and Photo Depictions in a Multiple Listing Service", found that online real-estate listings that included at least one photo (85% of listings studied) sold for an average of 3.5% more than their unadorned counterparts. The trade off to this eye candy? Co-author Ken Johnson, an associate professor of finance at Florida International University’s Hollo School of Real Estate calculated that adding a photo to a listing increased the sell time of a house by 20.6%, or 16.5 days, on average. Johnson theorizes that the increased time on market is due to having more information for a buyer to consider.

Despite that it may take a bit longer for the ‘Sold’ sign to be hung in the front yard, photos ease uncertainty for consumers and in the end they are willing to pay more for a property and buyer satisfaction is higher. Johnson’s Advice:

If I was selling, I would put every picture I could on the listing, at a ratio of four to five interior [photos] vs. one exterior. We’re talking about a few extra weeks in marketing time to get that 3% to 5% increase on a home. That’s a good trade.

Amateur Snapshots
Amateur Snapshots

The study did not look at the difference between professional and amateur photos, however, Johnson believes that professionally shot imagery would be more effective in increasing the sell price of a home.

A professional architectural photographer can do many things to enhance a view and show a property in it’s best light. Techniques may include the use of different lenses, camera position, time of day, and styling/staging scenes to create a lived-in and inviting feel. A professional will also usually employ post-production techniques such as enhancements to color, tone, contrast, and the dynamic range of the scene, as well as digital retouching, including adding blue sky to overcast days and green grass to incomplete landscaping, putting views into overexposed windows, lighting burned out fixtures and candles, adding flames to fireplaces and removing objectionable elements like wires, vents and outlets from a shot.

Because it takes considerable time and skill, professional photography understandably costs more than simple snapshots of a home. When weighing the decision to invest in an architectural photographer, one should keep in mind that the resulting imagery, when compared to a snapshot from a consumer camera or camera phone, is far superior in communicating the character and space of a room to a potential buyer. The benefits of investing in a professional should easily translate to more money in the bank.

Living in the Details

Western Arts & Architecture Cover
June / July 2012 Cover

Next time you pass beside a magazine stand, be sure to get your hands on a copy of the June/July 2012 issue of Western Arts & Architecture. In it (as well as on the cover), Jerry Locati, principal founder of Locati Architects and venerable authority on the rustic, yet refined, luxury mountain lodge, gives us a tour of the Bozeman, Montana property and architectural showpiece he calls home.

Along with general contractor and master builders, Schlauch Bottcher Construction, the Locati team of architects and interior designers set out to design and construct an inspiring residence of reclaimed wood, rusted metal and stone on the 20 acre property suited for quiet family living, yet easily up to the task of entertaining 100 reveling guests.

Layering architectural and landscaping elements, the final design of multiple, low-profile roofline and natural materials that form the home created its own self-contained focal point, where ultimately the home seems to echo the length of the Bridger Mountain range in the distance.
-Seabring Davis, WA & A

Housed inside the distinctly rugged exterior and recognizable signature look of a Locati project, lies an interior space carefully crafted to exude European elegance and sophistication. Antiques, custom cabinetry and an art collection containing pieces by Steve Seltzer, Rocky Hawkins, Tom Gilleon and Salvador Dali round out the interior touches.

The feature begins on page 134 or click here for a PDF version. View more photos of this stunning home here.

(The Very) Old is New Again

Ian Ruhter Photography
Ian Ruhter, Tintype Photographer

My guess is that most of you probably think that taking a picture with your DSLR or iPhone is pretty easy, right? Point, click, done. However, not all that long ago, it was nowhere near as effortless or convenient. Imagine you’re practicing photography in the middle of the 19th century when Frederick Scott Archer invents the newest and fastest method for creating images with light. This is his wet plate collodion process in a nutshell:

  1. Start with a well-cleaned glass plate the size you wish to make the image.
  2. Pour collodion* on the plate and tip side-to-side to coat it evenly.
  3. *Collodion had replaced albumen (egg whites) as the preferred substrate used to adhere photosensitive silver nitrate to the glass plate. Collodion is a highly flammable, syrupy mixture of raw cotton, treated with nitric acid, salted with bromide/iodide and dissolved in ether and alcohol. Harmless sounding stuff, eh?

  4. The plate is then taken into a darkroom where it is immersed in a bath and sensitized with silver nitrate for several minutes.
  5. Afterwards, the plate is loaded into the camera and exposed, ranging from a second or less to several minutes.
  6. Finally, the plate is washed with a ferrous sulfate and acetic acid developer that reacts with the exposed silver-halide grains imbedded in the collodion and turns them into metallic silver.
  7. After washing and varnishing, if you did everything right, congratulations are in order. You have successfully created a glass negative of the scene you photographed.

This method for making photographs was popular for several decades until it was replaced with newer systems around the turn of the century like the dry collodion process and Kodak’s revolutionary photosensitive gelatin emulsion. Nevertheless, the wet plate collodion process is still being practiced and refined today. The resulting imagery looks both exquisitely beautiful and hauntingly old-fashioned. Enter contemporary photographer Ian Ruhter.

After using his life savings to turn an old delivery truck into a giant rolling camera, Ian has been driving around the United States creating truly one-of-a-kind images using a wet plate collodion derivative process called a ferrotype or tintype. Tintypes are slightly different than the glass plate process I described above insofar as they use a thin sheet of blackened iron in place of glass to create a positive looking image. Although technically still a negative, the metallic silver in the exposed areas appears light against the black background of the iron.

Be sure to check out this very cool video about Ian’s work and all that goes into creating his vision. Oh yeah, did I mention that is costs him $500 to make a single photo this way? That’s enough to make the newest and best DSLRs look rather affordable in comparison!

Tennessee Treehouse One of the “Manliest Homes in America”

Tennessee Treehouse
Norris Architecture
Pioneer Log Systems

We would like to congratulate our clients Norris Architecture and Pioneer Log Systems for designing and building one of the “25 manliest homes in America” according to Men’s Health Magazine.

Situated on 30 wooded acres, not far from Nashville, the 5,300 square foot “treehouse” project is separated into two parts. The public space, crafted of hand-peeled Cypress trees, which support king post trusses and walls of glass, contains the great room, dining room, kitchen and porch. The private area houses the master and guest bedrooms, as well as a study/media room, and was built with stacks of large, 16-inch, handcrafted lodgepole pine to create a cocooned and cozy ambiance. A two-story octagonal turret of Tennessee limestone serves as the entry to the house and divides the two sections.

Check out the online article at Men’s Health Living or MSNBC to read about this unique project as well as the other properties that made the cut. View the rest of the images we shot of the home here.

Send Us Scouting of Your Project

When marketing budgets are tight, one of the best ways to effectively reach thousands of potential customers is to have a project featured in a prominent magazine. The publicity associated with an article touting your design and construction prowess by a widely read national or regional publication is truly invaluable and can lead to new work and business opportunities that are seldom achieved by self-promotion alone.

scouting of patio
scouting shot of patio
scouting of front elevation
scouting shot of front elevation
scouting of master bedroom
scouting shot of master bedroom
scouting of great room
scouting shot of great room

Editors are always on the lookout for interesting stories and standout homes to feature in the pages of their magazines. Our long history of supplying assignment and stock photography to national and regional publications puts us in a unique position among photographers to ascertain the types of projects, design styles, and architectural elements different magazines tend to favor for their readership. Over the years, we have developed close working relationships with many of our contacts in the publishing industry. Through experience, we’ve gained the ability to evaluate and gauge the best fit for homes with regard to the editorial content magazines are looking to publish, as well as the target audience our clients are trying to reach with the exposure of their work.

If you have an architectural or interior design project that you believe merits publication, we invite you to send us snapshots to review. Images do not need to have been photographed by a professional (that’s where we come in), but comprehensive documentation increases the odds that your project will attract the attention of magazine editors that literally see dozens of homes cross their desks every week.

rear elevation
rear elevation by roger wade
front elevation
front elevation by roger wade
master bedroom
master bedroom by roger wade
great room
great room by roger wade

See more photos from this project.

In addition to sending shots of the major rooms, unique interior details, exterior elevations and surrounding property, please include a written description of the home, detailing the size, location and homeowner contact info, interesting materials, construction methods and/or furnishings used (reclaimed wood, SIPs, art collection, etc.), names of the principals involved (architect, interior designer, builder, log/timber supplier, etc.), and any other pertinent information that you think may make for a compelling story. The more information we have on hand to pitch your project to editors, the better the chances are that a magazine will take an interest in your work. Email or snail mail us your projects and, together, we can discuss publication potential as well as the marketing opportunities available from having your project professionally photographed.

Big Sky Journal, Fly Fishing 2012
Big Sky Journal, Fly Fishing 2012

Three Feature Stories From One Photo Shoot

With demand for new home construction still tepid, at best, and budgets thinner than ever, architects, designers and builders are looking for ways to make their marketing budget stretch as far as possible and get those dollars to have more of an impact. Of the different kinds of promotion available, one of the best ways to get your name in the minds of thousands of potential customers is to have a magazine feature one of your projects. Architect Judd Dickey, who recently penned a guest post on the benefits of having your design work professionally photographed, put it most eloquently:

Being published influences potential clients, and places the firm among the seriously considered. Comments by others, which is what publishing is all about, are much more credible than self generated compliments. High quality imagery of good design says more about the architect than the architect could, or should, say about his own work

Along these lines, I wanted to highlight a project Roger Wade Studio, Inc. was hired to photograph recently and the subsequent editorial exposure we were able to generate for our clients. In 2010, Roger Wade Studio, Inc. was commissioned by Reid Smith Architects, Design Associates and Big Sky Build to document a private residence at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana. After the shoot was completed and our clients had each received DVDs of the photography for their marketing and promotional use, we went to work to get their project in front of as many people as possible. Based on the architectural style of the residence and our client’s targeted audience, we decided to submit the home to our contacts at the following magazines: Cowboys & Indians, Big Sky Journal and Log Cabin Homes.

Big Sky Journal, HOME 2012
big sky journal, home 2012

It’s worth noting that because of the lack of demand in the housing market, due to the current recession, many publications have reduced the amount of content they publish or the number of issues they produce, while others still have consolidated titles or closed their doors. I mention this because, in the halcyon days, before the market crashed, our record of publication pretty much guaranteed editorial exposure of any project we shot. These days, editors see dozens of projects every week from all over the country and competition for exposure has grown especially fierce. In spite of these challenges, and undoubtedly a testament to the excellent design and construction of the home, we were delighted to have all three magazines express interest in featuring the property.

Cowboys & Indians, January 2012
Cowboys & Indians, January 2012

Over the course of five months, the stories began to arrive to subscribers and appear on newsstands. Big Sky Journal, a Northern Rockies regional publication with a focus on capturing the dynamic lifestyle of the area, featured the story in their annual HOME issue, which highlights top architecture and design from around the region. Cowboys & Indians, which shares a similarly affluent readership, but targets a slightly different audience (aimed more broadly at western lifestyle, fashion, arts, entertainment, food, wine, and travel), published the home as their January 2012 issue’s Western Design feature. The final piece appeared in Log Cabin Homes, a national consumer-targeted shelter title that showcases log cabin homes of all sizes and offers advice on building, design, maintenance, energy efficiency and green technology.

Log Cabin Homes, March 2012
log cabin homes, march 2012

All told, the editorial exposure from the three magazine features put our clients’ work in front of 300,000+ viewers, many of whom have the financial means and proclivity to build primary and secondary homes. We’re always thrilled when we hear from clients that an inspired customer has come into their office with a handful of tear sheets featuring our photography.

Why Hire a Professional Architectural Photographer?

Architecture by Mountain Timber Design, Architectural Photography by Roger Wade
Kula Residence, Castle Rock, CO

Debbie Grahl asked me to write a small piece for Roger Wade Studio’s blog, as a “successful” architect who has used their photography and services for many years. My astonishment that my very small business would be considered a success by anyone drove me to conclude that just surviving the current hard times must be a success, since architects rarely get rich in the best of times and certainly aren’t getting rich now. There are other forms of success, though, including showing work that you can be proud of, becoming lifelong friends with clients and associates, and finding time to go fishing with them.

When I started Mountain Timber Design, my timber frame architecture business in Golden, Colorado, I knew that I would have to develop a national presence just to be seen by the small and scattered market. Putting together an effective website, getting projects published, and building a striking professional portfolio became my marketing priorities. First class architectural photography would be crucial to the marketability of my services as a specialist in timber frame architecture.

Architecture by Mountain Timber Design, Architectural Photography by Roger Wade
Sass Residence, Parker, CO

Roger Wade and Debbie Grahl came into my life with the Sass House, published in Timber Frame Homes (now Timber Home Living) in 2003. Introduced to me by the publishers, Roger and Debbie ran around, setting up lights, arranging pretty thingies on tables, and spending the day painstakingly capturing the house on film (the old days). I was fascinated and stayed to watch as long as they could tolerate me. Back then, Roger had a ponytail.

Result: These pictures were wonderful and went in a flattering article in TFH, also making the magazine cover. Shortly, a second magazine, American Bungalow, on the west coast, also used the photos for another article on the house and craftsman architecture. The kitchen photo has appeared in other articles too. Ultimately many of the photos went in a very nice book on the subject of arts and craft cabins. Recently, I used these same photos in a book of my own creation.

Being published influences potential clients, and places the firm among the seriously considered. Comments by others, which is what publishing is all about, are much more credible than self generated compliments. High quality imagery of good design says more about the architect than the architect could, or should, say about his own work.

Architecture by Mountain Timber Design, Architectural Photography by Roger Wade
Sommer residence, Estes Park, CO

Besides the quality of the photography itself is the additional work that Roger and Debbie have done introducing my projects to magazines and generally assisting my marketing effort. Their knowledge of the publishers and relationships with their editors are a tremendous help to me.

Publishing and creating a professional portfolio are so integral to my business that Roger and Debbie are very much my team members. They have photographed eight houses for me, all published. I have drawn in new work from each published work, and continue to use the photos in other ways, advertising, web site, and a book. This approach to my business image has led to wide ranging opportunities, with work from Virginia to Oregon and from Texas to Alaska.

Architecture by Mountain Timber Design, Architectural Photography by Roger Wade
Kula Residence, Castle Rock, CO

In a nutshell: From the very beginning of my business, I made a priority of getting published, and of accumulating a collection of professional photos of my projects. Besides the initial value of the photos in publications, my portfolio of work can be used in advertising and future ventures.

I have recently written a book, Crystal Lantern House, which showcases several of my published homes. The time I have taken to accumulate the photos has spread the cost out over many years, making it affordable, giving me immediate use through advertising and use on my website.

So I thank you Roger and Debbie for being key players on my little team and I look forward to our next project and to going fishing with you.

Judd Dickey, Architect
Mountain Timber Design

A 31,536,000 Second Exposure

PINHOLE CAMERA EXPOSURE OF TORONTO SKYLINE BY MICHAEL CHRISMAN
PHOTO BY MICHAEL CHRISMAN

I thought I would share this cool article I stumbled across the other day in the Toronto Star. Micheal Chrisman, a Toronto based freelance photographer, has a passion for pinhole photography and long exposures. On December 31st, 2011, he shuttered a pinhole camera that had been exposing photosensitive paper contained within it for one full year. The result is a beautifully haunting, ephemeral image of the Toronto skyline.

"Time is always a major component in photography, but is usually dealt with in fractions of a second," writes Chrisman, explaining his interest in lengthy exposures. "Exploring the limits of the medium is part of what drew me to attempting this photograph."

A pinhole camera, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is as simple a camera as one can construct, consisting of nothing more than a light-tight box, save for a small hole in one of the sides and a photosensitive medium secured to the opposing wall. This contraption mimics the process by which our eyes see and process light. External light passes through the small hole and projects an inverted image on the opposite wall of the box. For more info, visit Wikipedia for a general primer on the physics and history of pinhole cameras, the camera obscura, and the birth of photography.

Seasons Greetings From Roger Wade Studio

merry christmas
happy new year