“Focused, enthusiastic, and flexible. It’s always a great pleasure to work with him.”
Diane Dorrans Saeks, Design Writer, San Francisco
“An inviting and intimate viewpoint, a real team player and is purposeful with each shot.”
Matthew Leverone, Leverone Design, San Francisco
“His photoshoots simply transcend the work of more common photographers.”
Anne-Marie Barton, AMB Design, Salt Lake City
“NO ego just a great collaborator, makes something which could be stressful a pleasure.”
Stephen Brady, Visual Creative Director, Gap, San Francisco
“He has never failed me. I count him as a great photographer.”
Ed Lobrano, Edward Lobrano, New York
“Photos that showcase my work to its fullest potential.”
Holly Hollenbeck, HSH INTERIORS, Mill Valley
“A master of his craft, beautiful photographs, down to every detail.”
Suzanne Childress, Suzanne Childress Design, San Rafeal
Aspect ratio is the term used to describe the proportion of a photo, the height and width of the shot. The traditional 8×10 inch photo used for decades is giving way to the needs of new digital media. Changing is how we see photos and the proportions of those photos, hello banner photography. Trending now is the use of a large “widescreen” photo that fills the browser window. Widescreen photos need to be carefully composed to work in a very wide but not very tall window on the screen.
Interior and architectural design magazines show two page spreads made from an 8×10 proportioned photo, the same proportion turned 90 degrees can be used for a full page vertical. Yet, when these photos go to current websites some images will need to be cropped. The rising popularity of this panoramic proportion can be seen in 16×9 ratios, you see 16×9 ratio on newer TV’s, smart phones and widescreen websites.
The banner photographs on this site are a case in point. The photos you see have been specially composed and cropped to be impactful and inviting in a narrow format. As a commercial photography, I am called upon to art direct and film interiors of homes in San Francisco and Orange County. One of the starting points working with a new client is what kind of aspect ratio they need, often those needs are varied and many. Whatever the need is the photo has to be perfectly framed. Here is the modernist meets old world in a library by San Francisco designer Geoffrey De Sousa.
Steven Volpe’s eclectic mix in a South of Market loft home.
The hip white box office space of Matthew Leverone, the motion blur adds a dynamic touch.
A good photographer knows how to fill the frame regardless of the ratio. The same interior or building can be shot many ways. Compositions can be crafted with the right lens choice, the proper camera placement and tweaking the furnishings to fill the frame. Sometimes filling the frame means leave extra on the the sides. Frame the focal point and let the sides bookend the subject.
Sometimes filling the frame means leave extra information on the the sides. Frame the focal point and let the sides bookend the subject like in this amazing chest of drawers.
Tighter vignettes also work well when composted with the strong focal point and enough information on the sides as framing elements.
Even in my fine art photography, the sweet spot can be found with careful cropping.
The interior photos shown on my banner above are these leading San Francisco interior designers and architects.
Geoffrey De Sousa, geoffreydesousa.com
Antonio Martins, antoniomartins.com
Anne Marie Barton, annemariebarton.com
Matthew Leveron, leveronedesign.com
Photographing furniture for manufacturers and retailers calls upon my skill as a moment maker. The best furniture photography shows the furniture design accurately, without distortion and in an inviting setting.
My experience shooting for furniture retailer Restoration Hardware and furniture manufactures Ironies and Brownstone allow me to efficiently direct a team. Often more than eight people will be hauling prepping and installing the the furnishings. Stylist and their assistants will pull together the set as drapes are hung, rugs are laid, chandeliers installed and the furniture arranged. The finishing touch will layer in accessories, art, florals as the stylists go to work. The client, art director and I direct this team to craft the composition for the look and right fit for the catalog or ad. Often secondary views of the setting are taken to be shown on the company website, in social media and other platforms.
Each client brings a style and design direction to their product offering that is part of their brand. The best photographers see and understand this brand message and help to develop it and deliver it in the catalog and product photography. When developing this brand aesthetic I like to think of a few adjectives to describe the look that is sought, I then use these adjectives as a filter for each photo to insure the message is conveyed in the visuals created.
Styling of the photography needs to follow the brand aesthetic. Most often an inviting setting emulates a real life situation. The best styling for furniture photography uses objects that harmoniously blend into the photo. Think of the finished composition as a completed puzzle with no empty holes and not a piece grand standing. The hero is the featured product and the props are supporting characters.
Lighting is important to the furniture photography. In my furniture and catalog photography I seek a natural lighting feel. Getting the lighting right takes years of experience to “see” the light in the room and know how it will move throughout the day. My furniture and product photography is a mixture of available daylight, strobe lighting and exposure layering.
Controlling distortion is a major consideration in photographing furniture and make it look natural. The precise choice of lens, camera height and camera placement is key to the best photo. On set in the room or studio I make slight adjustments to the composition by tweaking the furnishings avoiding awkward tangents and odd angles.
Silhouette photos of furniture can be shot in most any space, the key is to have enough room for the camera to be away from the furniture and enough room for the lighting too. The goal is that the furniture have a natural feeling without distortion. Back in the studio, Photoshop is used to drop out the background or silhouette the photo to appear to be on a white background, sometimes a drop shadow will be added so the furniture feels grounded. When the furniture has reflective or glossy surfaces extra care is needed to make a finished photo free of defects.
Product details and artisan photos lend a bespoke quality to the furniture presentation. For some assignments getting in close to the product and using selective focus to lends an artistic feeling to the layout and really useful in social media and website photos.
Post-production is the work done on the furniture and product photos after the shoot. With the use of Photoshop minor imperfections can be digitally repaired; wood grains highlighted, welts straightened, wrinkles remove. Hours of Photoshop time can go into making the final and publish perfect photo. When done well this Photoshop work is completely undetectable to the viewer.
David Duncan Livingston has more than a dozen years photographing furniture in rooms and photo studios. Livingston can produce, art direct, style and photograph products for catalogs and furniture manufacturers in San Francisco and Los Angeles.]]>
With more than ten years photographing high-end restaurant interiors, David Duncan Livingston photos deliver a restaurants story for magazines and websites. Demanding architects and interior designers in San Francisco and Los Angeles seek Livingston’s skilled eye and thoughtful approach. A client roster includes Cass Calder Smith, Michael Guthier, Backen-Gillam, David Gingrass.
Knife sharpened techniques and state of the art gear finalized the restaurant interior photos. Architectural photographer David Duncan Livingston skillfully uses Photoshop, supplemental lighting and image layering to make the best restaurant photo. Shown here is pure architectural statement by the Michael Guthier designed interior showing a stunning gallery kitchen.
Trendy blur motion people shots and fresh food shots give a website a hip, alfresco feeling to use in hospitality PR.
PR firms and restaurateurs a like see Livingston’s mix of editorial and architectural photography as engaging and welcoming, Livingston’s photos show perfectly framed photos, an attention to detail, inviting chef portraits and food shots that are yummy.
Livingston works efficiently during soft opening hours to get the restaurant’s mix of interior, food and staff. The photos make you feel at home and part of the family.
For pricing and cost information for restaurant photography in San Francisco, Los Angeles and California please contact David Duncan Livingston directly to discuss your project.]]>
The beauty of a lazy drive along Highway One is a gift enjoyed by all. Yet finding a great home along California’s coast is rare, even with over 800 miles of coastline. Occasionally tucked into little coves, high upon cliffs, or behind unadorned gates are some amazing homes. As an architectural photographer I get invited into the interiors of a few of these homes. In my interior photography I seek to capture the stunning views of land, sea and home while telling the story of place.
Most often the homes were built before 1972, before the more restrictive building guidelines by the populist lead California Coastal Commission brought protection from over development to the coast. Here are three interior remodels that update existing homes for the next generation of stewards.
Low key, understated and rough hewed these homes share a reverence to the sea. Each in it’s own way lets the sound of the crushing waves, cry of the gulls, the mist of the fog and the glint of sun play hero to the seaside views and inviting interiors.
Visual storytelling is an art, and homes with views require special discretion in framing the photos for the story. Show too much and the seascape loses it’s intimacy, show too little and the loss of place. I seek framed and layered compositions to tell these stories. I craft moments of connection between the interiors and exteriors.
Technically photographing homes in Carmel, and within the counties of Mendocino, Monterey, Marin and Sonoma have similar issues; dealing with the fog, the mist on windows and the glare on the sea. As a professional architectural photographer I Avoid shooting a foggy days, have the windows cleaned the morning of a shoot, and shoot the water views in the morning before the suns glare turns the Pacific blue into a shimmery silver mirror. All of these photos have made extensive use of post-production processing and use the state of the art cameras.]]>
I have been shooting for interior architecture firms and design studios in San Francisco for years. With marketing directors and art directors we discuss the commercial space, the design intent, the materiality of the project and the spatial relationships of the areas and rooms. Understanding of the design intent helps to make a detailed shot list easy; a list that includes the compositions needed for competition entries, social media uses and traditional website portfolios.
Two recent projects in San Francisco make great case studies. Lizette Marie Bruckstein, a San Francisco interior designer, created a hip lounge feel to what could been another formal downtown SF law firm. The designers use of reclaimed materials and posh elements give a high/low material component, the dark gray palette gives a fresh hipness and the jolt of color in the nicely repetitive use of art photography a big wow factor. Lizette shifted expectations in what a commercial interior can be, a trend we also see in the tech interiors of Silicon Valley.
Technically the photos were captured at different exposures and even separate exposures for the art to reduce glare on the glazing. Multiple pictures of the same space were layered together in an elaborate Photoshop process. Further Photoshop adjustments corrected for color variations, very precise cropping was executed and lots of removals of alarms, lights and plugs. The photos of this commercial interior on California Street are clean, punchy and hip, just the same elements that make this design firm known for greatness.
Another high rise project in San Francisco’s downtown area was created by the award winning architecture firm EHHD. The architect, Lisa Wai created a simple modern environment for a public housing developer. The intent here was create a fresh commercial interior within a tight budget that showed a thoughtfulness and a timeless modernist design. In this interior architecture project a couple of pure ideas were expressed with perfect proportions and detailing. The details do matter.
Technically the photos for EHDD required the careful use of very wide angle lens to get it “all in”. Distortion can make interior photos feel unnatural, with care in composition and adjustments in post-processing we can reduce this issue. To make the photos feel more natural the right spot to frame the photo is an important to find to minimizing the distortion inherent in the wide angle lens.. One of photos required a great deal of Photoshop work to remove and clean-up some areas; as always good post-processing work should never be seen and that is the case in this commercial interior too. The details matter in the finished photography just as in the finished design.]]>
Photography for wallpaper is not just something that becomes your computers screen saver but the art and craft of representing the scale, color and textures in todays wall coverings. The photographic lighting style has gotten softer and is moving away from dramatic shadowing. Digital post production allows for removal of cameras in mirrors and any blemishes in installations. Color correction can be much more accurate than ever before. For the trade in tear-sheets, ads and binders the human element is giving scale and context.]]>
Given the sheetrock and steel boxes these new condominiums start as, they likely become finished as modern interior schemes. With this modern aesthetic, designers are showing cool restraint, details are kept to expensive minimums and the simplicity of bold and graphic touches become the day. Homeowners and designers are not constrained by a certain housing type like those living in Pacific Heights, so they are creating interiors in a fresh, clean way.
The architectural photography of these spaces is treated with a graphic perspective by shooting straight on to the room, using natural and even lighting, showing the negative spaces and rendering creamy tones.