Los Angeles-based architecture and interior photographer Peter Valli understands the value of building long-term relationships. Having volunteered for the nonprofit organization Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts for the past 20 years, he eventually earned the spot as principal photographer for their annual fundraiser, the Pasadena Showcase House of Design. He has held the position for the past four years, including the most recent tour featured here.
For almost 60 years, the PSHA has hosted a well-known annual designer showcase home tour in the Los Angeles area that almost single-handedly funds their youth music programs and awards grants to other nonprofits.
Peter started as a volunteer, providing photographic coverage of their community outreach programs. After years of dedicated service, PSHA asked him to step into the role of principal photographer. Through his involvement, he has built a network of friends, which has been valuable both personally and professionally.
Some of the interior designers over the years have become clients, as well as several non-design-related clients. The relationship on a whole has been mutually beneficial. I can’t say enough about pro bono endeavors.
The purpose of this designer showcase, besides allowing the public to see prominent and historical homes in the area, is to highlight interior and landscape designers. Various design firms are allotted particularly rooms or areas of the home and grounds. Prior to the month-long public tour, the chosen house of the year is taken over and completely redone from top to bottom. Peter captured before and after photos that demonstrate the lengths of the transformation.
As a principal photographer, Peter’s essential task is, of course, to make the house look its best. Leading up to the tour, however, the behind-the-scenes atmosphere is not nearly as resplendent as the final product.
Keep in mind that, in many cases, the designers are scrambling to meet the photo deadline and not all the spaces are completely settled, often requiring on-the-spot creative ingenuity.
Peter admits to loving the drama that comes with big productions and photographing the designer showcase each year confirms that he thrives in the bustling and tumultuous environment before the opening day of the tour.
This tour held its own set of challenges for Peter and his crew, being in the midst of both coronavirus and a California heatwave.
Because we were generating content for a virtual tour as well, my crew of seven and I spent six days shooting stills, 360s, and video, all in 100° degree plus weather. Ordinarily not that big of a deal, but as we’ve all come to learn, masks tend to affect any experience.
Since Peter landed the role of lead photographer, he has used his ability to delight in and be patient through the many challenges to further benefit PSHA. His willingness to work and be flexible with the designers has been paramount to refining the brand of the Showcase House, leading to increased media requests since he took over as principal photographer.
It’s important to pay attention to what kinds of photoshoots are the right fit. Peter’s awareness that he loves the challenges of larger-scale productions has proved beneficial for everyone involved.
Being able to work through the drama brings a great sense of satisfaction. One of my biggest joys is making the most demanding individuals happy.