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Surviving the Economy

Posted on: Jun 02, 2010

Digital 101: Keeping Busy during difficult times.

This recession has turned out to be closer to a depression for anyone in architecture, design, real estate, advertising, or marketing. Did I forget to mention photography? Yipes!!! 2009 was our worst year since the 1970’s. Well, I am sure the economy and all of us who are part of it will come back, but it will take a while. Banks need to start loaning money again, the bottom end of the housing market needs to stabilize, people need to get back to work and we need to stop shipping good jobs overseas in exchange for flat screens and every stitch of clothing on our bodies. Some of these are quick fixes and others require some long term structural changes in how we do things. 2010 maybe one of these wait and see kind of years.

Tiburon House, Swatt+Miers Architects, Emeryville, CA

Those of us who live and work here in California probably have suffered more than most, although this is a place with more creative energy than most places on the planet. Last spring I contracted with an overseas publisher to produce a series of books about architecture and design in California. I am just now finishing up the first book: California Cool, Residential Modernism Reborn which will be printed this spring and distributed worldwide this fall. This year I hope to start on the second book: California Hot: Traditional Interiors from a Non-traditional Place. What we seem to forget is that we live in a place that produces most of the world’s culture, pop and otherwise. I love photographing architecture and interiors and I just discovered that I could write about the subject in an informal and lucid way. I have also discovered a bundle of wonderful architects in Los Angeles whom have worked with me to make this first book a winner. Southern California architects like Mark Cigolle, Steve Kanner, Steven Ehrlich, and Zoltan Pali have been invaluable contributors. While 2009 was a financial disaster, it was a good time to expand my horizons and reach beyond the Bay Area to connect with some great creative people in the Southland.

The Wonderful World of Video: Don’t try this at home (although many do).

As part of the book project, I was asked to complete a short video to be used as an internet marketing tool for the publisher, Images Publishing. Looking at animated stills of architecture can be very boring, to say the least, so I chose an interview format with a handful of the book’s contributors. Working with cinematographer Eric Sahlin, we managed to edit down five hours of interviews into five minutes, liberally mixing in “B roll” and stills of their projects. The end result was a tight, little documentary on Modern Architecture that could appeal to a broad range of viewers.

139 Hermosa House, Hermosa Beach, CA Studio 9 One 2, Manhattan Beach, CA

The internet is fully capable of streaming and downloading video shorts which are increasingly being embedded into websites. We have the ability and footage to expand this HD quality video into a 25 minute feature that is broadcast quality. A video short can live on a laptop, be used as a meeting introduction with clients, as part of a formal presentation or in a trade show booth. Shooting video is not simple although almost any cell phone can do it nowadays. The hardest part is getting good sound quality, something managed by external lavalieres or boom microphones. Take a look: Video is not cheap to do well, but could work into your broader marketing plan and be the one tool that separates your firm from the crowd.

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