Weston, Florida-based photographer Barry Grossman tells the stories of some of the most luxurious interior locales and architectural marvels throughout the country. His recent project for Pepe Calderin Design, a New York and Miami-based interior design firm, illuminates the modern design work of the interior of the apartment, with the magical New York City skyline just beyond.
After many years of relationship-building with clients, Barry has become well-known in the residential design community in South Florida, as well as a photographer who clients can trust with their top interior designs and luxury private residences. Pepe Calderin Design is one of those client relationships that Barry has been fostering since the mid-90s, when he first began shooting assignments for them.
Calderin is one of those special relationships in the sense that their loyalty has bridged decades, and they also, more importantly, have always given me total creative license as their photographer. This level of trust empowers us, as photographers, and has enabled me to do my best work, and create some of my favorite portfolio and signature images, many of which have stood the test of time.
How have you been able to maintain and foster relationships in the residential design space as an interiors photographer?
As a young photographer in the industry, I tried to focus on portfolio building and relationship building. Period. At the end of the day, as a contract photographer, it is really about the subject matter as well as the creative space we are within when shooting. That said, I joined several different interior design and home building associations (ASID, BASF among others) in an effort to become part of the community in which I am working. This allowed me as a “young photographer” to showcase my enthusiasm for the work of my clients and also brought me some notoriety in the South Florida market.
For this shoot, what was involved in planning/preproduction?
When I first enter a space, I do my best to immerse myself and understand what the designer has created for their client, and then I will formulate a shooting strategy to best capture it and convey the narrative of that design. In this case, I had the chance to meet the dynamic NY owners and this unit truly shows their personality. We flew in the morning of the shoot, and worked from the early afternoon until 2am, for around 12 hours of photography. The design associate made sure the flowers were fresh and placed, and when I arrived on location, I walked the space, decided which rooms we would shoot and at what time, to showcase the interiors, but also to maximize the dramatic views NYC offered us.
What did the creative process look like on set?
Some clients will “let me loose” and I have access to a space with just my photo assistant, photo stylist, or at times… just me, alone! In this case, I collaborated with Calderin’s NYC design associate, and to a degree the extremely interested owners! Obviously, they graciously allowed me to invade their home, and do my work without much interruption… That said, when shooting homes, diplomacy and respect of the space are paramount. I always feel that I am a representative of my clients and do my utmost to treat the space and the people with dignity and respect. All that said, the final creative decisions are always mine as the “author” of the photographs. My clients and I enjoy a fun, creative and collaborative experience and I think that can only make the shoot more positive and the final images stronger.
Did you face any challenges with this project? If so, how did you overcome them?
Specific to this shoot, one of my goals was to show the West Side of Manhattan’s sunset view. I did my best to feature that in several photos and had to make a few compromises along the way due to the actual view which was gorgeous, but had a few unsightly elements outside. Shooting and composing strategically is always the most important aspect to this kind of work. Post-production and compositing are amazing, but I tend to lean towards “reality” in my work, and implement camera placement, time of day considerations and light quality more than hour upon hour in front of my computer. Another challenge for this shoot was dealing with the blue neon light “art” which hangs so prominently in the middle of the apartment. It is undeniable and the owners generally keep it ON as they love it. I elected to let it breathe and throw that powerful color around the apartment, rather than shutting it off. This is a somewhat daring choice I made (at the risk of possibly disappointing my client who was back in Miami), but I feel it very important to have a vision, stand by it, and allow your instincts to help guide your creative process.
See more of Barry’s work on his website.