Creative Spotlight: Lauren Coburn - Architectural Interior Designer

The world seems to be filled with interior designers.  They are by far my favorite clients to work with.  With that said, there are only a select few who consistently ‘knock it out of the park’ with their design work.   Lauren is one of them.

We had the opportunity to work with Lauren and her team a few weeks back and we had a blast!  Lauren always knows exactly what compositions she wants, and stages scenes perfectly.  Her support team headed up by Suzie Chavez is top drawer.  I know that when Lauren books a shoot, it’s a matter of showing up and shooting the project.  Everything is ready the minute I arrive.  I really appreciate that.


Below are a few of my favorites from the photoshoot.  If you’re in the market for an exquisite interior designer, give Lauren a call.  

Shooting Midici

I was combing through some commercial projects that we’ve shot and came across these.  This is Midici.  The project was built by Level Construction Chicago back in 2018.  We had a chance to shoot it just before they opened.  We chose the evening to highlight the ambience of the space and surrounding area.  We really enjoyed the design and execution.  Below are some of our favorites from the shoot. 

Great Lenses: Sony Zeiss Sonnar T FE 55mm 1.8

I have a lineup of what I consider to be Great Lenses.  Lenses that give images that set them apart from similar counterparts.  It’s not my intention to write about lenses and include images and test results.  I’ll let the professional reviewers take care of that.  I am listing lenses that I have personally used that left an indelible impression on me.


There are several lenses in the 50-60mm focal length that I have used over the years, a couple that are among my favorites.  I will get to them here at a later date.  There is no lens however, that I have ever used that is as sharp as this Zeiss 55 1.8.  None.  Not even close.  This lens is so sharp that it is laughable when compared to offerings from Nikon, Canon or Sony.  

When photographer Ronny Robinson brought it to my studio, he said that he thought is was the sharpest lens he had ever used.  I grabbed my camera and did a quick shot using my favorite 50mm autofocus and then his Zeiss 55 1.8.  My lens was faster, but big deal.  How often do we shoot wide open, and never if we are shooting product, or architectural.  I still can’t believe the difference.  I had to agree.  Between Ronny and I we probably have every lens type, brand and focal length you can imagine.  It’s what happens when you shoot for 25plus years.  To me, for now this is the reigning king of sharpness. 



Other things worthy of notice, is the stellar build quality and smoothness of the lens.  Something everyone comes to expect with a Zeiss label on it.  Without question, this is a must have lens.  Everyone should own one of these lenses regardless of what brand camera you shoot. 


Video Production

Something that we have been doing more of over the last several years is video production.  Good video production.  Many don't realize it, but we were involved commercial video production before we began shooting commercial and architectural photography.  The two fields really blend well together in our realm of work as we are already shooting for some of the finest Interior Designers, Builders and Architects in the World.   

It’s really beneficial for our clients to feature videos on their websites.  This not only give the prospective a good look at their portfolios, but also a glimpse of the creative professional’s personality.  It’s a wonderful way to break the ice so to speak.


Video that introduces oneself and their profession can have project features and highlights.  They can be edited down and used in social media such as Instagram, You Tube, Facebook etc.

This is an excellent way to broaden the scope of your advertising reach. 

Our production team is prepared to travel on-site, covering events & projects throughout the country.  The next time you’re looking to have your project photographed, ask us about doing videos whether in studio or on location to include among your marketing arsenal. We would love to work with you.

Below are a few iPhone shots in studio while working with Marietta Calas of Expressive Interiors.  

    Team members Mary Beth, Ronny and Marietta in pre-production meeting 

                                          Mary Beth setting a production outline with Marietta

                                             Marietta on-camera shooting a project spotlight video

                                                                    Marietta on-camera waiting for cue

Great Lenses:

I thought I would start doing a series on my favorite lenses, realizing of course that I will be scrutinized the entire way.  We all have our favorites, and many are brand dependent.  We need to face it, there are so many good lenses to choose from.  But here, I want to talk about those that have character, meaning that you can easily pick it out from another brand of the same focal length, speed and type because of its unique palette.  

I personally want my photography to be beautiful.  For me that means that the scene is sharp and looks natural and is always appealing to the eye.  For portrait work, I am not looking for the most accurate color rendition, I am looking for a lens that flatters the subject and plays with the colors and bokeh.  Something timeless.  I find that while many modern lenses are razor sharp and render accurate color, they are also very clinical and cold to me.  


My favorite portrait lens for example, is a war-time era Zeiss Sonar.  It’s simply magic.  I hope to get to all of my favorite lenses over time. So check here over the next few days as we kick off a series on Great Lenses!  Email, and let me know yours and why?  We might just include it.


See you soon,



Creative Spotlight - Level Construction - Boston

Took a quick trip to Boston a couple of weeks ago to shoot commercial/industrial space that has been repurposed by Level Construction Chicago. The work included an extensive upgrade of all the building facilities including the parking lot, curbing and fixtures.  As with everything Level does, the project work was first rate. 

We also had the opportunity to do a 1900’ drone shot to show the scope of the 175,000 square foot warehouse, offices and parking lot.  


If you’re looking for a commercial/industrial builder anywhere in the United States, contact Level Construction.  With offices in Chicago and Houston, they can service any area.  Their project portfolio is extensive. 

Traveling is part of our regular production routine so keep that in mind when you have a long distance project you need photographed.   Below are just a couple of highlights from the shoot.

Product Photography:

Though we primarily shoot architectural images for Hospitality, Architects, Builders and Interior Designers, we do at times get a call to shoot product.

We have a studio within our suite of offices and here we can do head shots, small groups, models, video and product photography for catalogs, ads and cut-sheets.  


We also take assignments on location to photograph product that is too large to easily be transported to our studio.  On these occasions, we set up a temporary studio and shoot onsite.  


Over the years we have photographed everything from jewelry to large industrial motors.  If you find that you need high quality product shots, give us a call.  We would love to help.  

Who can tell me which of these images is shot on film?  

Creative Spotlight: Debby Hill, Director of Design, Key Interiors, Inc.

I had the opportunity this year to shoot a traditional office designed by Debby Hill of Key Interiors, Inc. Debby is one of those amazing designers that can handle any type of design theme and here she clearly demonstrates that.  

As usual with all of Debby's design, form and function are first rate as is the build-out.  The clients were so happy to find someone who could incorporate truly modern features in such a traditional layout.  Below are a few of my favorite shots.

Great Cameras: Sony A850

Announced in late August 2009, the Sony A850 was a variant of the top-of-the-line Sony A900.  The cameras are essentially identical with the A850 having the software image buffer-rate programed slower than the A900.  Translation, it will only shoot 3fps, whereas the A900 will shoot 5fps. (You can actually have your camera repairman load in the A900 software and then the cameras are identical).   

The other advertised difference is the view finder coverage.
  The A900 is advertised as 100%, and the A850 is 98%.  When they were released, I held both in my hands and looked through each view finder.  I couldn't see one bit of difference.  Neither could the salesman.  We chalked it up to marketing.

In any event, the camera boasted a stellar 24.6-megapixel full frame image sensor and delivered the best images I had ever seen from a digital camera.  They are phenomenal images!  Not being a 'sports' photographer, we selected the A850 over the A900 as I could care less about shooting a rapid secession of images and neither was particularly fast anyway.  

The A850 is one of the most over-built cameras I have ever used.  It is exceptionally strong and robust. The all-metal frame construction is evident in the feel of the camera.  You don't have to be especially gentle with it either.  It's made to endure heavy use.   The weight is substantial, you know you are handling a very serious camera when you pick it up.  

Lens selection is incredible.  You can use all of the very fine Minolta A series lenses, Sony's A series lenses including the Grand Master and Carl Zeiss A series as well.  Of course, there are a host of lenses from third party manufacturers  like,  Vivitar, Tokina, Tamron, Sigma, Cosina and adaptors to let you mount Canon, Nikon and Lecia's lenses.  

This is without question my favorite DSLR.  Everything is logically laid out.  The menus are super easy to understand and navigate.  The controls all have a solid-well-made feel to them.  They turn with positive actions and detents.  The camera body is extremely well sealed against wet environments.  


The Sony A850 is always in my camera bag and is my camera of choice when shooting Architectural, Lifestyle and Product photography.   I am constantly comparing the images from the A850 with the newer cameras that come our way.  I have yet to see better.  

As a working professional who shoots every day, the Sony A850 has just been perfect.  I have two A850 bodies.  One stays in the camera bag, the other in the studio.  My main A850 is nearly 13 years old and has well over 150,000 clicks without ever giving me a problem.  That’s serious build quality. Exactly what you want from a professional camera.