When I was in my early twenties, I fantasized about being a National Geographic photographer using my camera to explore the world. In my late twenties, I rediscovered architecture and built a thirty plus year career photographing both architecture and interiors for the great and the aspiring to be great. While still shooting architecture and interiors, my work in 2014 has seen something of a transition. More clients are asking for photos of people actually interacting with their spaces than the spaces themselves. This has sent me on many interesting journeys photographing people being themselves and city-scapes becoming animated in unpredictable ways. Here is a random tour of images I created that didn’t quite make the cover of Architectural Record, but make their own unique statements about life and death in Northern California. It almost seems that the goal I had in my early twenties has come to pass.
Lolo was just a happy, random discovery on a “day in the life” shoot about the Mission District for a local developer. Valencia Street is a neighborhood that defies a simple description and is uniquely San Francisco. It is hipster, biker, beggar, Mexican, East-Indian, high brow, low brow, junk/antique shop, all in one place. I can’t vouch for Lolo’s food, but the interiors were Mexico on LSD or mezcal, at least.
Real Food is something folks in Oakland take seriously. Two days at the festival on another “day in the life” shoot for Jack London Partners was enough to cure my craving for street food for at least a month. Anthony Bourdain, eat your heart out. You don’t need to go to Brazil or Asia for exotic, healthy street cuisine. You just need to come to Oakland.
Philomena Farms is one of those idyllic places tucked away in the rolling hills near Palo Alto, CA that can only be described as sublime. We spent close to three days photographing this Modern estate designed by Robert Swatt, and had a little fun with the owner and the giant, translucent pivot door that looked like it was out of a Hitchcock movie.
O’Connor Woods is a senior care facility in Stockton designed by Smith Group, San Francisco, with a “memory care” unit. I knew some of the residents suffered from some degree of dementia, but I wasn’t prepared for the exceptional and loving care these seniors received. Our star model was an octogenarian who kept us in stitches of laughter all day and flirted with every woman that walked by. It was only when we were packing up our gear at the end of the day that I was told he had Alzheimer’s. This was a life lesson on our stereotypes about aging that I will not soon forget.
This is exactly what it looks like, a giant refrigerator for people, very dead people. You don’t want to end up here and with any luck, you won’t. But if you should have a terrible mishap or end up on the wrong end of some street crime gone bad, you might. Shah Kawasaki Architects hired us to shoot this new facility for the Alameda County Sheriff’s office which included a new Coroner’s facility: lots of stainless, hard, washable surfaces and big refrigerators. The fridge was set at a chilly 38 degrees, but I don’t think the temporary occupants would mind a bit.