“Black & White or Color”

From a recent shoot in Southwestern Colorado this exterior shot was a composite of ten separate images to come up with the pano. Really interested in the concept of how the image looks in black and white compared to color. I think I will explore this contrast in more detail for future portfolio pieces as well as for a coffee table book of my work that we are working on.

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“Luxe Interior + Design 2014 Winter Issue”

I am very excited to announce that the 2014 winter issue of Luxe Interior + Design magazine is out on the stands. I am also very honored to say that a home I  shot for the magazine this last fall is not only featured in the issue, but my image of the exterior of the home made  the cover. What a great way to start off the New Year here at the studio of James Ray Spahn Photographer!

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“2 am Casion Shoot”

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I was recently on a shoot in Black Hawk Colorado photographing a home for a magazine when during the shoot I received a call from my longtime client Haselden Construction. They wanted to know if I could shoot two casinos for them the following day in Black Hawk and meet their deadline of having the images in hand by the beginning of the next week.

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As serendipity had it and as I told them, not a problem, I just happened to be in all places but Black Hawk already. Sometimes the stars just line up! So instead of loading up my gear and driving home after my shoot for the magazine, I headed to downtown Black Hawk to meet with Haselden and do a walk-through of the properties.

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To photograph projects like these its imperative to do a walk-through. Meeting the GM’s of the properties is also key. Security is tight in casinos as you can imagine so getting clearance is a must. Trust me you can’t just walk into a casino with a camera on a tripod and not expect to be confronted by several security guards with guns.

The above images are from the Mardi Gras Casion, below are from Saratoga.

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I was given strict instructions by the owners of the casinos that I was not allowed to photograph any areas where money was handled (the cage) or photograph any employees, or patrons. Also, I was to be out and finished by 8:00 am, no if and’s or buts.

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So the game plan was to arrive at the first location The Mardi Gras at 2:00 am photograph it, and then walk up the street and shoot the Saratoga. So from when the initial phone call came in from Haselden to shoot the casinos (about 1:00 pm that day) to when I would actually begin photographing  was roughly thirteen hours. Keep in mind I had been already shooting a project all morning.

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So after my walk through and getting clearance the time was now 3:00 PM. What to do what to do knowing I was gonna be on the ground running at 1:30 am.  I did what any other seasoned professional photographer would do. I ate dinner at 4:00 PM, had a few cocktails, found a black jack table (i lost by the way) and was in bed by 6:30 pm.

And that’s how that day began….. and ended.

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“SmartWool Photo Shoot Steamboat Springs”

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I had  the pleasure a few weeks ago of  photographing the SmartWool  headquarters (that’s  right the sock company) in Steamboat Springs for my good client OZ Architecture.

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I also had the pleasure to work with and have on site the lead Designer of the project Christy Headlee from OZ. As I have mentioned in past posts it’s a huge plus  having the client on site to help facilitate, style and share their vision of the project and how they would like to see  the project  captured through the lens of my camera.

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As in all shoots it seems that time is of the essence and having Christy on site was a huge help. We had a ton of ground to cover and unbeknownst to  the viewer the installation was literally going on around us. The grand opening of the project was the following night so it was a scramble to say the least to photograph around the installation process.

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Our persistence prevailed though and we were able to produce the shoot under our deadline without a hitch. Besides the images seen here we shot an additional half a dozen images before the sun went down. As always team work and pre-planning paid a huge roll in our success.

As a side note, a few days after the shoot a package arrived in my mail box with that’s right you guessed it a bundle of socks for moi (it just so happens that SmartWool socks are the only socks I wear). Being one who detests shopping for himself this was a real treat and a great gesture of kindness from my client and SmartWool. I just wish I could wear flip flops right now and not socks and shoes. Will summer ever arrive!

“Sympathetic Addition”

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Now that the new website is completed and behind us I am now hoping to be able to get back to the Blog on a more frequent basis. What better way to jump back into it than with a post on a recent feature of ours that is once again in Mountain Living Magazine ( March/April 2013). The Magazine hired me a few months back to photograph a home located in Telluride Colorado (one of my favorite mountain towns to work in. If you haven’t been there make sure to stop in at “Baked In Telluride” for a coffee and one of their killer donuts that are hot out of the oven at 5am).

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The home was designed by Eric Cummings Architect and the Interior Design was by Catherine Hobbs of Studio Frank based in Telluride. We worked closely with Catherine and her assistant who both styled each shot for us throughout the day. Eric was also a huge help on the shoot when an extra pair of hands were needed. As I always say collaboration is a huge key in any photo shoot and success lies in all of the parties working together with one vision for the final outcome. The final images are a testament to this philosophy and I believe reflect the vision of all who participated in the overall success of this shoot.

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Now all I need is another excuse to make it back to Telluride and “Baked in Telluride” for another one of those killer donuts!

“First post of 2013”

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What a great way to start off my first post of 2013  by highlighting Mountain Living Magazines’s first issue of the New Year that showcases an image I shot for the magazine while on assignment for them. The home was shot specifically for Mountain Living last winter in Aspen and was yet another jewel of a home by Charles Cunniffe Architect. As usual with ML I worked alongside Art Director Loneta Showell who is the stylist extraordinaire. Rebecca Richardson Marketing Director for Charles Cunniffe was also on hand to help with access and to lend a hand where needed. It’s always a treat to work with both of these ladies. The entire home can be viewed on the inside of the magazine.

Happy New Year!

“Mountain Living Magazine Dream Spaces”

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I was in an airport book store a few weeks back and picked up the  latest issue of Mountain Living Magazine and began flipping through it and came across their section “Dream Spaces” which included a two page spread of a home I shot last winter for Charles Cunniffe Architect over is Aspen. Charles Cunniffe also was awarded the honor of “Home of the Year” in the same issue.

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Cunniffe also ran a full-page ad in the same issue featuring the same house as in the “Dream Spaces” section my images were showcased in (above image top left corner  is not mine). It was great to see the exterior of the house highlighted, even more enjoyable was viewing it inside a heated building. Hard to imagine, but when I shot this exterior it was close to ten below and not a very enjoyable enviroment………you gotta love winter shoots!

“The Anatomy of a Photo Shoot”

The assignment  required me to fly out of Denver at around 1:00 pm, land in LAX at 2:40 pm grab my gear at baggage claim,  jump into a car service and make like a bat  out of you know what and head to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to shoot the exterior of the New Marimekko Flagship store at dusk which was at roughly 5:15pm. This part of the assignment required that I deliver two hero images of the exterior of the store to the Marketing Director of Marimekko so she could meet her deadline for the press release that was to hit the streets in Finland by 5:pm their time that afternoon. As I have to explain quite frequently to friends as well as clients,  “though we shoot digital now and don’t need to send film to the lab to be processed the images still don’t magically come out of the camera looking polished.” There is some post work (digital darkroom) that needs to be done such as, layering, checking for dust, color correcting and sharpening. Having a tight deadline and being on the road I obviously didn’t have my work station with me. Could I have pulled off the adjustments on my laptop you ask? Yes, probably, but the process would have been slow and painful. My next option was to rent a work station in a studio. I had done this once before in Manhattan last Fall, strangely enough for this same client whose deadline was similar to this one. The only problem was that I needed only two images processed so the hassle of renting the studio space and workstation didn’t sit well with me. Now being a resourceful person and someone who thinks on his feet I had just remembered a conversation that I had a few days earlier with my good buddy, fellow graduate of Brooks Institute and top-notch Architectural Photographer Chipper Hatter. Chipper was getting ready to go in for surgery on his knee that he tweaked from surfing. How he finds time to surf being a self-employed photographer with a family of four I have no idea, but that is a story we will delve into in the future. Anyhow I called old Chipper up and told him my dilemma and being the great person he is, he said” sure no problem, I will process the images for you and make your deadline. I will be just sitting around with my knee elevated and sucking down vicodin”. This was a huge relief for me and would actually help me sleep that night, I did wonder what the vicodin might do to his performance on my images though, but beggars can’t be choosers.. My only concern was and as Chipper brought up lets hope he makes it out of the surgery alive. if not I would be back to square one. So the plan was that I would shoot the exteriors  run back to my hotel to upload the images to Chipper via “We Transfer”. He would then do his magic on the images and then upload them back to me which I would then email over to the Marketing Director by 10:00pm that evening, way under the deadline. I could see myself rubbing elbows with the rich and famous at the Sunset Tower Bar sipping a nice cold beer smug in my feeling of what a great job Chipper and I had done.

Well that was the plan at least. Flashback to the Denver Airport when I am getting ready to board my plane to LA when my phone rings and who other than the Marketing Director is on the other end and sounds like she is in a frantic high-speed car chase tells me that the awnings for the front of the store wouldn’t be arriving until 10:00 pm that night and wouldn’t be installed until 5:00 am in the morning and that we would have to postpone tonight’s shoot and shoot in the morning and now she would need the images turned around by 9:00am. The images wouldn’t need to be perfect she said and we could do the dusk shots the following night when we shoot the interiors. I told her have no fear we will make it work. “It always works out”. I said lets just shoot the dusk shots in the morning. Having scouted the location the week prior I knew the sun came up behind the store front and not on it so lighting in the morning would be horrible. By shooting dusk I knew we would have a better chance of making a nice shot at that time of the day and as I told the Marketing Director I wouldn’t feel good about giving here a mediocre image. So the deadline and stakes just got higher. My next call was to my good old wounded buddy to tell him the bad news, but he didn’t answer his phone. I assumed he was passed out from the vicodin and drooling on himself in a deep slumber. I thought it best to let him sleep and would break the bad news to him later that evening from the hotel lobby bar.

When we arrived at the location at 5:00 am the next morning the first thing that came to mind was that this was such a better time of day to shoot the exterior of the store because the streets were pretty much deserted and void of any foot traffic (keep in mind this is one of the  busiest and most expensive places in the world to shop). The second thing that came to my mind was what the hell are painters doing painting the front of the store in the dark. If you look up top to the two images you can see the painters on the left side of the building. There were also men in front of the store blasting the sidewalk with a power washer. In a cool calm manner as I always have I began yelling at the top of my voice for everyone to clear out expecting the cops to show up at any minute at my ranting. As this circus act is playing out  the sun is rapidly rising in the sky. After a few more yells and hand waving I was able to capture the image above and the one below before the ambient light washed everything out.It was about 6:45 am by the time I downloaded the images to my laptop and started up loading the images to Chipper. Thankfully the store had just setup its wi-fi, the only problem was that it was slower than Christmas. I up loaded one image at a time so Chipper could at least get started on one of the images while the other one was uploading. At around 8:45am the Marketing Director asked where the images were and that she needed them in fifteen minutes for the deadline in Finland. Taking a deep breath I told her it was not going to be a problem. I then grabbed my cell and walked into the alley outback  and called Chipper thinking he had passed out from the pain in his knee from the surgery. I could picture him slumped over his work station with drool coming out of his mouth and seeping into his keyboard. I was wrong though, he answered and told me the images were on their way. Back inside the building I checked my inbox and there were the images. I then  showed them to the Marketing Director who immediately  said  “I LOVE THEM!” The time was 8:58am……..

In all seriousness this shoot is a perfect example of how I must think on my feet as a photographer and work within deadlines that seem if not unimaginable but impossible. I feel confident in saying that this plays a big part in why my clients hire me. A big shout out goes to Chipper Hatter who without his skills and desire to help me out in a pinch this shoot would not have turned out the way it did. He did a beautiful job on the images and I cannot thank him enough. If you get a chance check out his work www.chipperhatter.com he is an amazing photographer and a great friend to say the least.

Until next time!

“Latest Feature in Luxe Interior + Design Magazine”

The recent issue of Luxe Interior +Design Magazine Los Angeles edition recently featured one of my projects that I shot last Fall in the Palisades in their Fall issue.

The home was originally shot for my client the Architect/Interior Designer and Landscape Architect. As you can imagine there was a lot to cover in and around the home  to say the least.

Working close with the Architect we were able to capture around twenty-five images of the home that really showcased the clients vision as well as Luxe’s interest in featuring the house. Another successful shoot all around!

“OZ Architecture”

I recently had the honor to have been hired by  “OZ Architecture” based in Denver to shoot several projects of the firms recently completed work as well as a few of their past jobs.

The firm is revamping their website and marketing collateral and needed fresh imagery to help with this new push.

The project you see here is of the Sam Gary Library in the Stapleton area of Denver. It was also the first of five projects that we started with. Since the first five projects sixteen more have been added to our hit list for the firm.

The firm had a clear vision going into several of the shoots that they wanted adults and children in a lot of the spaces to not only give scale, but also to add life to the images.

Anyone who has children or photographs children for a profession can understand what a trial it can be. My philosophy has always been to let them run around like wild Indians and then at the last-minute drop them into the shot. The image above is a perfect example. I told them where I wanted them and as they were getting settled into their spots I started to shooting without them even knowing it was the real deal. As you know…. kids do what kids do.

I worked  closely with the marketing director of the firm as well as the principal on this particular project. Both were on site and extremely helpful with direction and exactly how they wanted to portray the spaces……

Collaboration has always been a key element in my book for a successful shoot and this project exlimpifies that quality to the tee……

More of OZ’s projects will be highlighted in future posts….