A photographer’s workspace can have a positive influence on their creativity and productivity. We asked five photographers to reveal the features, tools and personal touches that make their studios great places to work.
Sarah Anne Ward,
New York City
“Grill pans, food processor, Kitchen Aid mixer, Vitamix: All the little things it’s annoying for a stylist to carry around.”
Pantograph Overhead Rig
“One of my favorite parts to my studio—and I certainly miss it if I have to shoot elsewhere—is the Pantograph with gear head. It is what I use to shoot overhead instead of a camera stand or tripod. It’s a space saver and makes it much easier to style and light without a big stand in the way. The accordion stretches from 11 inches to 48 inches long.”
“I always have seamless handy—you never know when you need to change color. The tricky part is how to store the stuff so you can see what’s there. I built my rack myself. It’s a little over 4 feet and I’ve divided it into four compartments that are each about 12 inches wide.”
Oven with Vent to the Outside
“Mine is commercial, restaurant grade. When you’re doing a story on grilling and are grilling all day long, it gets seriously smoky in here.”
Everything on Wheels
“The space is large for a New York City resident, but it does get tight when there is a larger crew and multiple clients but I make it work on most jobs. The key is to keep the space fairly open and most things on wheels or easily movable for specific job needs. All the stands are on wheels, the computer station is on wheels, the kitchen counter is on wheels, so if I’m not shooting food it doesn’t have to be in the middle of everything.”
Christine Blackburne’s Craftsman Cart. Image © Christine Blackburne.
South Street Seaport, New York City
“You won’t see too many of these anymore as Fuji no longer manufactures them, but it is the best medium-format camera for still life ever made (in my humble but fervent opinion). What makes it so special is that it is a single lens reflex (so you can look though a viewfinder to see what your subject is doing, unlike on a large-format camera), while still having the front movements of a large-format camera so you can select your focal plane. It’s a medium format that wasn’t designed to leave the studio, weighing in at 10 pounds. I can’t imagine anyone hand-holding my baby behemoth too long, so it happily lives on a FOBA stand.”
Sonos Speaker System
“The best thing about this system is that I’m able to turn it down for my clients, who might have to make some phone calls or have a meeting, while not completely turning the music off for me and my crew.”
“I love being in the South Street Seaport. The cobblestone streets, the huge historic clipper ships: It’s such a quaint corner of Manhattan that a number of artists started populating recently, especially after Hurricane Sandy drove rents down (temporarily).” Blackburne, who lives across the river in Brooklyn, says, “I love that I get to take the East River Ferry into work from Greenpoint. It’s way better than being stuck underground in a subway!”
“The inside of my cart looks like it might belong to a very well organized serial killer (blades, surgical gloves, armature wire), and that’s the way I love it. I like being able to pick the most applicable one of my dozen tweezers at a glance. Other than being able to shoot my own personal work whenever I’d like, my favorite feature of having my own studio is that I know I have all of the tools that I need at my fingertips and I know where all of it is.”
“I consider these almost as indispensable as my camera. On one end you have a super clamp. You can attach that to your tabletop surface. Then there are three or four short metal rods attached to each other by a joint that can tighten and loosen, and on the other end is a large clamp, similar to an A-clamp. I use the A-clamp to hold Plexi, fill cards and dots. With the fluidly moving joints, you can position your card just right and then tighten the joint to lock it in place. It can fit easily into a tight set and save the floor space of a C-stand with arms, and it is much easier to re-adjust and get into the perfect position for the perfect highlight on an item. It’s like having an extra very, very patient assistant to hold a card for you.”
Artwork from Jeremy Floto and Cassandra Warner’s children. Image © Floto + Warner.
Floto + Warner (Jeremy Floto and Cassandra Warner),
Architectural, Art and Portrait Photographers,
Lower Manhattan, New York City
Vitra Office Chairs
“We are not super gear people but want things to be simple and function well. A nice office chair is key. Ours are by Vitra.”
“Cass hates it, but I rock the Crocs all day. Chefs like them for a reason,” says Floto.
“There is always something that needs fixing so we keep a Leatherman nearby.”
“To avoid coffee runs. We have a Gaggia classic.”
“If we do not have some artwork from our kids then it is not a workplace for us.”
A copy of Irving Penn’s Passage from Jody Rogac’s studio. Image © Jody Rogac.
Portrait and Fashion Photographer,
Brooklyn, New York