6:00 am 6:00 pm
A commercial photo studio can be an interesting space. At its esscence, it is nothing more than a big empty room. What makes it special is its ability to constantly change and, if it's well designed, you can create just about anything within it. First thing in the morning can be very calm and quite, with everything in its place, and by the end of the day it's a mess and has the feeling of only slightly controlled chaos. That probably means that it was a good day.
When I first moved to San Francisco almost every photographer had their own studio, the alleys of SOMA were filled with them. Now with the high cost of everything, there are far fewer. Over the years, I have kept mine mostly because I couldn't imagine doing what I do without it. The studio itself is about 3200 sq.ft. with very high ceilings, ground floor and drive in access. It is filled with lots of great toys from the lastest super high resolution digital cameras and technical lighting gear to a bunch of homemade custom equipment built for specific projects. All of this gives us the ability to shoot just about anything from extreme macro shots of tiny tools used for neuro surgery to large sets, high overhead shots and video shoots. Our work is very diversified and that keeps it interesting. Every day is something completely different.
For the more techincally inclined, I currently shoot primarily with a medium format PhaseOne 645+ camera, using all prime lenses and a PhaseOne IQ180 digital back with a resolution of 80 Megapixels. The resolution of this system is nothing short of remarkable. We also shoot with a Canon 5d and Sinar view camera, and are constantly exploring new options as the technology advances. Our lighting is primarily flash based, using both Broncolor and Profoto equipment, with a lot of homemade or modified equipment, whatever it takes. But photography is not about the equipment, rather it is all about the light and the shadows. We can spend hours or maybe days getting that part just right and then, in 1/125th of a second, we're done.
But don't think that we only shoot in the studio. A little daylight can be a refreshing change. We spend a considerable amount of time on location, sometimes for the environment and sometimes because whatever we need to shoot is either too large or too important to come to us.