The first time I saw the Universal film Billy Elliot back in 2000, I was filled with so much emotion. It’s a movie that I could completely relate to – a young boy from a working-class family unexpectedly falls in love with dance.
I proudly come from a family of longshoremen; my father, his father, my uncles, my mother, my sister . . . everyone. I did longshoring for a couple of years, but the creative juices flowing inside me eventually led me on a different path. I always loved dance and photography, so I was always playing around with both. Knowing I had to focus on one career, I started out as a professional dancer.
It wasn’t easy explaining this career choice to my longshoreman dad, but he eventually came around with full support the first time he saw me dancing on national TV.
Dancing allowed me to travel the world and, wherever I was, I always had my camera and was taking pictures. When I started thinking about retiring my dance shoes – since professional dancing can be short-lived as a career – I knew exactly what I wanted to do next: photography.
I went back to school and eventually started assisting some great photographers. Two photographers in particular made a huge impact and influenced and shaped the genre of photography that I shoot today: interiors and lifestyle. Those photographers are David Tsay and Robert Deutschman. David is a brilliant interior photographer and Rob creates and captures the most amazing moments in his lifestyle/advertising work. I will always be grateful to these gentlemen. I learned so much from them, and they always taught me to find the light.
Through David I met a wonderful designer, Emily Henderson, and after working on several interior shoots with her, my career in interior photography was born.
I love all styles of interiors, but for me personally, I’ve always been drawn to color. Three of my favorite interior photographs I’ve taken thus far are a living room studio space designed by Emily Henderson, a bedroom designed by Orlando Soria and a kitchen space designed by Daleet Spector.
The way they design a room basically feels like the colors, furniture pieces, rugs, books, sculptures, vases, knickknacks, plants, everything dances together in unison – like a finely choreographed room.
When I walk into a space for the first time and I love the design, I get lost in my excitement. I look for the flow of the space and see how it moves the eyes. I want to capture that movement and make the space as inviting in a picture as it is in person.
Setting up and composing the shot is probably my favorite part of the process. I love having some mellow music in the background while the designer and I pick apart the space until it’s just right for the shot. I always say: It’s in the details. So, if I’m working with a designer as detailed as I am, I’m all for it.
My home has always been my escape from city life. It’s the place where I come to refresh and refocus. I enjoy a calm space with a variety of colors. I love a mix of vintage and new and am constantly inspired by the designers with whom I work. I love white walls and colorful accents.
My home is a late 1920s chateau style with tons of classic charm and detail – from the crafted beams running across the ceiling, to the beautiful wood-worked closet door in the living room. I chose a peacock blue sofa as my accent color for the living room. I am also a massive fan of gallery walls.
I have a wall in my living room that is dedicated not only to framed pictures, but pieces that I feel connected to through my passions and travels.
My work space is located in a corner of my living room where I can see everything. I love sitting and working into a space, rather than facing a wall. I feel that I am more creative when my energy goes into a room, especially when I can glance up at my space once in a while. It calms, centers and recharges me before going out and creating beautiful pictures.
When it comes to my personal style, I find I wear a lot of black. A black shirt or button up, black pants and, usually, a pop of color in my shoes or socks.
It’s kind of ironic that I love color, but wear black. But the reason is this: I was on a shoot that had a lot of chrome and reflective glass. During the entire shoot, reflections of my colorful clothing were a complete nuisance to me and everyone else, and it made my shoot twice as challenging.
So here’s a tip for anyone considering becoming an interior photographer: wear black.