Prepping for a Shoot

A recent project involved shooting the interior of a bank for a commercial builder.  Now, we have photographed several banks in past years but this one particular bank was special. 

Banks are busy places, so immediately we know that the shoot will take place either before or after hours.  I also mentally tax myself when I think of how much cleanup the photos will require.  After all, who wants to see miles of computer and telephone cords?  Or all of the personal items that employees bring to their work stations to remind them of home?

Usually, we arrive somewhere between 3:30 and 4:30 am to ‘stage’ (read clean up) as much as possible.  Removing the above-mentioned clutter pre-shoot saves hours of time in post-production work.  The results for all the effort are always rewarding.

Another benefit of the early arrival time is being able to photograph the space during dawn.  This often provides dramatic painted sky views through the windows.  However, with this one particular bank getting in super early wasn’t going to be possible.  We had about one hour before the bank opened to clean up/stage AND get all of our shots in.  So the pressure was definitely on. 

Even more pressure was applied when the bank manager ran a little late.  The second the doors were opened we hurried inside to get the biggest surprise of all.  THE BANK WAS CLEAN, STAGED,  AND DESKS CLEARED OF ALL PERSONAL ITEMS.  We were shocked!  Even superfluous telephone and computer cords were carefully put away.  Never in our wildest imagination did we ever think that the bank staff would be so thoughtful.  As it turns out, they love their remodeled space and were flattered that it was being photographed, so they all took time the night before to have their offices and lobby tidied up for the photo shoot. 

Than you Colette!  We sincerely appreciate all the hard work.  Below are a few shots.

Creative Spotlight: Gander Builders

Steve Lecas of Gander Builders is one of the most conscientious builders I have ever met.  When you look at the homes he builds you find first-rate craftsmanship, spectacular designs and superb building materials.  Steve builds homes.  Real homes.  Homes that are designed to be enjoyed by families, spacious, comfortable and practical.  Homes that will stand the test of time. 

I have been photographing for Steve over 16 years now, and I can honestly say that the houses I shot back then still look outstanding today.  Here in the Midwest, that’s saying something. 

Steve also always seems to take the extra step for his clients.  I recall more than one occasion when I met with Steve at a new home to photograph.  There always seemed to be one or two other homes in the neighborhood that he constructed in prior years and here is the extra step:  I have seen him walk around the other homes and look at how the finishes are wearing.  Often he will check in with the homeowner to inquire if everything is okay long after the project is finished.  His clients love the attention and it comes as no surprise that the majority of Steve’s work is referral based.

If you are looking for that ‘special’ builder… Steve Lecas of Gander Builders is just what you need.  Below are a few samples of recent work. 

Waiting for light

When potential clients look through our portfolio and see an image photographed at dawn or dusk, they will inevitably give pause and stare for a few moments. There is nothing that can paint an interior or exterior as beautifully as natural light.  Capturing it at just the right moment requires patience.  I love the wash of cobalt blue through the windows as a backdrop to an interior.  Facing west, the light has a variety of hues - yellows, magentas and blues.  It’s a different painting every night and one that can really embellish a fine composition.

For those who are curious, we do not ‘drop in’ or Photoshop’ the sky and no we do not ‘gel’ the windows beforehand. The skies in all of our images are real.  Here are a few that we captured while ‘waiting for light’.


Creative Spotlight: Michael Buss Architects

Every so often you get a call from a client that you haven’t worked with in quite sometime. Michael Buss Architects is a perfect example.

We began working with Michael and his wife Sue back in 2005 when we were shooting a project for an architectural magazine. 

At that time, he took me through several neighborhoods encompassing projects of various home styles and sizes.  One of the builders that were working with Michael labeled him a genius and a hidden talent.  Hidden I wasn’t so sure about when I visited his then-crowded home office.  Sue met me at the door, pointed to a small waiting area and was off to find Michael.  While waiting the office staff hustled in and around each other all busy with clients, designs, phone calls, faxes, and meetings. Blueprints were laid out everywhere.  It was just what you would expect from a full-blown large architectural firm functioning like a well-oiled machine, but in a lower level ‘bunker’ style office.  It was fun to watch. 

I arrived with proofs of the work that we shot so that Mike could make selections for a magazine write up.  He suddenly appeared, told me he had about five minutes and then scoured the contact sheets and made his selections.  Our meeting was over in about three and half minutes and he was off taking a phone call and walking into another meeting.  To this day he holds the record for the quickest image viewing I have ever had.  In that incredibly brief amount of time, he selected 14 images for the magazine article and 59 for his business portfolio.  I can’t even imagine how quickly his mind works.  Stunned, I gathered my materials and was off.

Fast forward to last year, when out-of-the-blue we got an email from Sue.  They wanted to update their portfolio.  Wow!  No longer in the ‘bunker’ office, Michael had moved into a large commercial building complete with full office amenities and increased staff to support their expanding business.  Very impressive.

Meeting Michael and Sue again was like flashing back to the bunker days.  Mike still moving at warp speed, Sue still managing the office, clients, schedule and Michael.

We made arrangements to begin photographing new spaces.  As you can see, Michael’s designs are beautiful, open and have a spacious feel.  Among the things I noticed about a Michael Buss design is his skill in finding a practical use for every inch of space.   Some of my favorite shots are found below.