Wrigley Mansion is a true landmark of the Phoenix, Arizona, area. It was built in 1931 by chewing gum magnate and owner of the Chicago Cubs, William Wrigley Jr., as a 50th wedding anniversary present to his wife, Ada. As a popular spot for celebrities and high society events during the 1930s and 1940s, the hotel, a blend of California mission revival and Spanish architecture, was known for its opulence. Located on a 100-foot knoll overlooking the Phoenix skyline, the 16,000 square feet mansion now serves as a fine dining restaurant and special event venue.
Phoenix architecture and interior photographer Michael Duerinckx recently photographed the iconic building for Phoenix Home & Garden magazine for an article marking the completion of a decade-long restoration by Interior designer Wendy Black Rodgers, with styling by art director Len Loria
The goal of the images was to convey how this historic property had been sensitively restored. The architecture, inside and out, provided many opportunities for beautiful photography, everything from the grand exterior of the mansion, with its white stucco walls and red clay tile roof, to the wealth of detail on the interior, with its ornate tile work, intricate plaster moldings, rich wood paneling.
Having shot architecture and interiors for over 20 years, Michael has collaborated frequently with Phoenix Home & Garden. His clean style suits the publication well.
The art director of Phoenix Home & Garden and I have a similar idea of how to break down a shot and convey a space in a visually concise way. For example, shooting super wide is rarely necessary; less is often more.
The Hormel family purchased the property in 1992, just as the City of Phoenix was planning to tear it down to make room for condos. The family has made a conscious effort to preserve the historic heart of the building’s architecture and maintain its glory and quintessence (hence the sensitive renovation). And when entering its grounds, you truly feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1930s.
There was an extra thrill in photographing a place like this with such historical importance.
The assignment was a short commute for Michael, who lives very close to the Wrigley Mansion and sees it all the time as it sits high above a hill overlooking Phoenix. Upon arrival, it was straight to work for Michael and the team. In the bigger spaces, such as the dining room, there was a lot of rearranging to do, with tables needing to be set, chairs placed, and curtains straightened, among many other things. And with just four hours to complete the shoot, it was back-to-backing shooting.
As is often the case on a magazine shoot, you have a limited time to do the shoot, in this case from 8 am to midday, so you have to make each shot count. The art director turned up earlier and set things up nicely, and there was help from the people who worked there to move things around and assist in coordinating the shoot. Luckily the art director also knew exactly what he wanted, so the shoot moved quickly and smoothly.
As was typical, it was a dry day in Phoenix, but the morning was unusually overcast. Michael worked this to his advantage and was able to achieve a soft light for some of the interiors with a few pops of supplemental lighting with his Profoto flash.
The natural light changed all the time, with the sun occasionally peeking through the clouds, so I had to adapt some of my lighting settings.
One very cool feature is the small telephone switchboard room with walls covered in the same silver foil used to wrap Wrigley’s chewing gum.
If your client sees things in a similar way and your vision is in sync, which it was on this project, it’s a very enjoyable experience.
Often in the world of photography, things come full circle; this rang especially true for Michael on this project.
Many of my photoshoots in Arizona have a connection to Chicago – throughout the state, I often photograph homes of Chicago natives, Chicago restaurant chains, and properties developed by Chicago-based companies. I even shoot in Chicago sometimes, as a couple of my clients are based there. So it was great to photograph the home of the man who the Chicago Cub’s stadium was named after!
See more of Michael’s work on his website.
Read more about Michael on our Published blog.