LA Based Architectural Photographer Stephen Paul Talks Reflections, Editing, and More on His Shoot for Maison Trouvaille

LA Based Architectural Photographer Stephen Paul Talks Reflections, Editing, and More on His Shoot for Maison Trouvaille

Today on Project of the Week, we’re checking out a beautiful and unique office space by photographer Stephen Paul. Stephen specializes in architectural photography and is based out of Los Angeles. His project is Maison Trouvaille’s Rhode Skin. Here you’ll find well-controlled reflections, great materiality, lots of mood, and beautiful light. Let’s jump on in and check out Stephen’s work!

Stephen kicks things off by saying “I was hired by the interior design firm, who I’ve worked with before, to photograph the space. I knew it was an office, but there was no scout ahead of time. I packed all my equipment & was glad I brought it all!”

I asked Stephen a bit about the shoot day, and he replied “The shoot was overall smooth. The biggest issue was working around some of the employees moving in and out of their offices.  I had to keep an eye out for their offices. We also had to remove all products/labels for licensing reasons. We shot around 4 hours for a total of 10 images, one of which only took 15 minutes. There were 6 of us including myself, the stylist & the design team. Everyone helped as they always kindly do. They had also started styling before my arrival so all of that helped speed things up.”

One challenge Stephen ran into on this shoot was the sheer quantity of reflections. He mentioned “On top of the large mirrors, everything was separated by glass walls & there was artwork in glass frames. I was able to mitigate it through composition first & foremost. I avoided using the strobes when it was too problematic. (I think I only used them to light the left curtain of the conference room). Then I had my 8×8 silk & interchangeable tarp to flag certain areas for different frames.

I also took multiple frames with lights on & off to later use. Finally, good ‘ol post. Fortunately, the curtains were easy to stamp and even place on certain small areas that didn’t have them or were open in an office being used & then painting in the frames where lights on caused the reflections.”

Stephen shares “[This] was my first shoot in a space like this. It was very raw & very limited natural light in the main area. I was unable to use strobes most of the time. I had to be very patient with people in & around the space.  It was a good test and overall experience. I know it’s being photographed for publication soon by another photographer. I’m looking forward to seeing those images & imagine I’ll have some personal lessons there to go over.”

Stephen mentioned that his client had requested their own look in post-processing that is different than his typical style. I asked Stephen a bit about this — I was curious to know how he handled his client’s request for a very different edit than what he initially delivered. Is this a typical request? Was there anything folks should know about handling similar requests from clients?

He shared, “After delivery, weeks later due to Holidays, I received an email on whether or not the images were edited. I sent over some before/after screenshots as examples which was followed up by a reference image they had on their board that was warm with wood & sun-drenched. It was extremely different from the dark concrete, cool, neutral space I walked into.

After a call with the founder & principal designer, I went ahead & changed the color to match their reference — or as much as I could. I always try to document the space as it is in life (the exception would be using lights to make the frame more dynamic), but as my wife keeps reminding me that’s often not what people want. I’d be curious to hear what other photographers think about this & how they handle it. It’s worth a larger discussion.”

A massive thank you to Stephen for sharing this project with us. Catch more of Stephen’s work at and on Instagram @stephen.paul.

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

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