An Architectural Photographer’s Tools of the Trade – The Phase One IQ260 & Cambo WRS 5000 Experiment

As a photographer, I have always felt that the act of taking photographs… creating images… looking at life, framing it, telling a story, conveying an emotion… the process, itself, provides the essential joy in what I do.  From the earliest days of shooting with my first SLR camera and throughout my studies in high school and college, the magic of capturing life was, and still is, at the heart of the photographic experience for me.

The story within the frame.

I have always sought visually arresting images which have the potential to convey a narrative.  With my camera, I have a certain amount of power to project an emotion and share the uniqueness of my own perspective.  While I found my initial inspiration to create images with traditional studio arts tools, it was when I was fortunate to hold a camera in my hands, and peer through it, and thereby into the world which surrounded me, when I found that which truly inspired me.  With that purity in mind, for me, successful photographs have little to do with megapixels or technical skill.   However, where artistic expression meets technological advancement is of great interest to me, especially as a commercial photographer, for one will always influence the other.

The first time I actually held a camera, I knew I had found my best tool for artistic expression.

Here it is, some thirty years later, and I have that same feeling again… using my new Cambo WRS 5000 coupled with the amazing Phase One IQ260.  Shooting with this system just feels right; organic, true to my subject matter and true to my personal artistic statement as a photographer.  Capturing life from a personal point of view is what photography is about for me.  When I can convey that point of view most strongly, and with the most powerful tools, then I am truly advantaged as an artist.  The Phase One IQ260 in accord with the beautiful technical camera made by Cambo allows me to elevate my work to its highest possible level.

My venture into professional commercial photography now spans twenty-six years.  I began shooting with large format 4×5 view cameras and while the quality for interior and architectural work was the industry standard, let’s face it… it truly wasn’t an organic experience.  That said, cutting my teeth with those most basic of photographic tools, I believe, created the foundation on which I have built my brand and my business.  We have certainly come a long way from using a bellows-style camera, with black cloths, recessed lens boards, black and white 4×5″ Polaroids, and multiple trips to the E-6 lab for processing sheets of transparencies…. one… at… a… time.  Hours and hours were spent refining a style and technique which for most commercial photographers is long since dead and buried, but, alas, not forgotten because without those years of shooting interiors and architecture the way photographers had always done it, painstakingly, methodically and extremely technically, I would not have the appreciation for nor would I have even developed my current shooting standards and methods.

The tradition of style is in constant flux and as a professional, I feel I have to adapt to the most modern approach to my work.

I believe that shooting pictures is as it always was, an expression of the photographer and his environment as defined by his tools.  When the tool is more functional, more capable, and more powerful, the photographer, especially if he is in the business of licensing images, becomes more functional, more capable, more powerful and in our competitive market today, more viable.

The amazing thing about my new camera, the Cambo WRS 5000 is that is emulates a view camera and does so with refined simplicity.  I have the ability to have my image plane rise and fall as well as shift left or right with few limitations.  This enables me to keep lines straight and distortion to near non-existence.  With the advent of  tilt/swing lens boards, I also have the capability of controlling depth of field in a way very similar to my 4×5 view camera.  As an architectural photographer I feel quite at home with this system and I can create panoramic images with stitched captures flawlessly.  I also can shoot two-point perspectives far more creatively and with sharper results with the camera’s horizontal and vertical shift capabilities, all accomplished “in-camera” with little or no need for post-production image altering.  The end result is an experience which feels like traditional photography in a way that is very modern, very state-of-the-art, yet still “soul” satisfying for me.

It isn’t exactly point and shoot.

This type of photography may not be for everybody, nor is this camera.  However, if one derives the kind of inspiration that I do from landscapes, cityscapes, architecture and interiors where line, light and form become the raw elements of story and subject from which we make our pictures, then I cannot think of a better tool with which to express an approach shared by architectural and landscape photographers for well over a century.

One hell of a digital capture.

Amazing lenses and a beautifully crafted camera system are only half of the story as it pertains to the tools of my trade.  If a photographer is truly lucky, he gets to create his work with the finest and most elegantly engineered digital capture system ever made, the Phase One IQ260.  At the time of this writing, for an architectural shooter, among the competitive landscape of camera systems on the market, the IQ260 is without peer.  Not only does it boast 60 megapixels of picture data, it is the quality of those pixels which impresses me most.  Previous incarnations of digital backs made by many manufacturers had adequate file size, but until the IQ260 not a single “current” model could deliver the clarity under the conditions we, as architectural and landscape shooters, find ourselves in quite often… near darkness.  This is when the new Phase One product clearly distinguishes itself.  Photographing at pre-dawn, at twilight, in massive interior spaces lit with dimmed pin-spotlights measuring only a few foot-candles, on rooftops capturing vistas with city lights awakening with the oncoming night, and shooting just before sunrise with neutral density filtration to extend the exposure duration so that time and water movement redefine the shoreline, this is where my work will generally take me.  This is where the IQ260 is perhaps the most important photographic tool in my camera case.  I am not a mechanical or computer engineer so I won’t even try to explain how it does what it does, but sufficed to say, this digital back does what I need it to do and it still surprises me when it comes to image quality and the ability to render light with accuracy, beauty, and life-like naturalism in virtually all lighting conditions.

Photography made simple.

I have never been able to accomplish my work so effortlessly.  With trends moving towards naturalistic lighting in interior photography, the IQ260 tool allows me to bring my clients gorgeous and true-to-life color and tone as never before.  I don’t want to imply that the days of utilizing artificial lighting are over.  I still feel that using traditional lighting instruments is essential to maximize control over a photographic scene and create dramatic images.  That said, I find myself spending more time using light creatively these days rather than attempting to emulate a sense of ambient or available lighting, especially as it pertains to interior shoots.  I also find that the Phase One back responds incredibly well to high-key lighting scenarios where strong backlight or edge-lighting will be used to shape or define objects.  Conversely, in those images where low-key approach to light is utilized for dramatic effect, the IQ260 sings with equal, tonal brilliance.  Shadows are deep but detailed and from an image retrieval standpoint, there is an incredible amount of image data from which to pull.  Highlights are extremely well maintained and always feel organic, especially in accord with the modern digital lenses we now proudly employ.  Long exposures simply look better than ever before.  As a photographer who is still mesmerized by how time can be portrayed in a static image with long exposures, movement in clouds, palm trees, water and also in the man-made and occupied world with cars and people whirring through frame, to have the creative possibilities seemingly endless because of the clarity offered by the IQ260 is inspiring.  I have yet to photograph celestial bodies, but I do hope to soon add that type of image-making to my portfolio as I am fascinated by star photography.  I am certain having a digital back which can shoot hour-long exposures will be of incredible value in those efforts.

Image is everything

This adage applies to the arts, but I am now referencing how important the inclusion of the Cambo and Phase One system has aided in my business from a marketing standpoint as well as photographic quality perspective.  I have been a Phase One owner for over a decade, and being able to share photographs created with their systems, especially with the IQ260 and WRS 5000, has enabled me to approach the best clients and offer them what I consider to be the best product I can.  Most importantly, my clients feel that I have made the investment in their work as much as my own.

More than a little support was needed.

I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing and in-depth support I was given by many people working with several different companies in an effort to educate and facilitate me on my acquisition of the new camera gear. Chris Snipes, formerly of Calumet Photographic and now Capture Integration, is someone with whom I have had a long-term business relationship.  Chris sold me my first really high-end post production equipment in 1995 in the form of a transparency drum scanner, along with several different professional large format digital color printers.  Arguably the southeast’s most experienced Phase One dealer, I purchased my first Phase One digital back from Chris in 2003.  Three upgrades later, and countless hours in the field with me, his contribution to this process has been immeasurable.  Early in January of 2014, when I got my hands on my IQ260 and the Cambo WRS system, it was the culmination of nearly 20 years in the business with him as more than just my salesman, but a valued advisor and friend.

I also want to speak about the importance and significance of my relationship with Cambo Photography.  Their motto is “Where Tradition Meets Vision” and that mission statement could not be more relevant to this journal or my approach to photography.  In particular, Rene Rook, the president of Cambo, was absolutely amazing with me as he walked me through several technical questions I had with the new camera and addressed every concern I had.  I have to say, throughout the entire process, Rene has represented Cambo with the professionalism and personalized customer service any photographer would hope to receive.  Though they are in the Netherlands, Rene has provided me with countless email correspondences and service that one would be lucky to get here in the states or anywhere else.  When the president of the company stands behind his product in this way, it speaks volumes.  I haven’t mentioned much about the great accessories the Cambo system boasts, all of which make interfacing with and yes, flaunting the WRS camera a pleasure for me. 

Lastly, I have to shout from the mountaintop about my relationship with Phase One.  I purchased my first digital back, the 16 megapixel H20, in 2003 and my professional career was changed forever.  I have not shot a single frame, roll or sheet of film since.  What they design and build is a marvel of engineering, mechanical and electronic.  The elegance of the design of the digital back, and their medium format camera body the 645 DF+ is simply the best one can possibly get anywhere.  They’ve proven that innovation and industry-leading digital capture remain something most commercial photographers, photographic fine artists, and even imaging purists want to attain for their business, work, and artistic endeavors.  I also have to briefly mention the software engineers who have designed an absolute powerhouse of a digital darkroom which integrates seamlessly with my workflow, Capture One.  Whether I am shooting tethered to my computer on location or importing photographic files from a compact flash card, the Capture One software simply makes my photography better.  Whether it’s enhancing details in shadows or allowing me to utilize multiple layers inside a single exposure to create more dramatic scenes, I have come to rely upon this software as an unsung hero in my entire photographic process.  While I don’t employ too much “dodging and burning” in-software, it is really nice to know that in certain instances when I have not had the time to afford complex lighting structures to a shot, or when shooting in the outside world in extreme lighting situations, I will be able to bring those detail-rich raw files into Capture One and transform them into something stunning.  I also want to pay respect to Margaret Lamb, my technical support specialist at Phase One, who was and continues to be an invaluable resource for me when it comes to hardware and software questions I have had.

It may be my very last digital camera.

Or not.  I realize that this industry and this art form are changing… and changing very fast.  From my experience, when I have been at the cutting edge of technology, it has absolutely advanced and enhanced my work and my business.  For now, I will say with confidence that this system has given me all I anticipated and more.

Let’s see what they think of next.

for more information on Barry’s camera and digital capture system, please visit:


Miami Interior Architecture with L.A. style

Crisp lines and sensual curves accent an incredible, state-of-the-art law office overlooking downtown Miami.  This photography assignment, brought to us through Los Angeles-based interior design and architectural firm, AREA Architecture, is one of my personal and recent favorites.  Dynamic art, gorgeous woodwork, a subdued color palette of warm grey and midnight blue, golden wood-grained columns alongside onyx walls create an interior space which was at once inspiring and challenging for us to photograph.

Working with Los Angeles designers was also a real treat.  I have included several of the photographs which I feel best tell this stylish, bold and whimsical architectural narrative.

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Miami Modern Interior – Fisher Island Residence

Prestige, luxury and style define this incredible Fisher Island residence, located just off the coast of Miami.  Pepe Calderin Design brought intense color, artistic interior architectural details, and a whole lot of drama to this traditional floor plan.  The unbelievable fireplace is a masterful focal point, and along with the red glass wall accents, ceiling details and space planning, luxury and style find a whole new and bold definition.

From the photographer’s perspective, one of our strategies was to focus on the architectural elements, and create clean, crisp lines with my compositions.  I always try to let the design speak clearly and shape the images I create.  In this case, where there were challenges, there were also wonderful photographic opportunities.  Take a close look at the fireplace in the living room, and the gorgeous tile work in the bath.  Very tough to shoot… but still, yielding some pretty gorgeous results for us.  We had two days to shoot this residence, and working with Pepe, as always, was amazing.

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Luxury Real Estate Photography – Miami Interior Design in New York

Boasting some of the most exquisite and sought-after views in New York City, this elegant Manhattan high rise apartment blends contemporary and traditional with bold art and clean architectural lines.  When facing the challenge of shooting this incredible home in the sky, I focused on the relationship between the warmth of the interior spaces set against the unparalleled views offered by the proximity to Central Park from atop one of the city’s highest residential skyscrapers.

One of Miami’s most prestigious interior design firms brought my team to N.Y. for a two-day shoot.  Day one was fraught with overcast skies and we truly had to be strategic when deciding which views would need to be saved for our second day, and which we could make work considering our rather tight schedule.  The combination of the location, the furnishings and the art, I believe, made this assignment one of the highlights of our year.  Truly exemplifying the best of luxury real estate photography.

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Miami Interior Photography | Ivette Arango Creates Beauty on a Massive Scale

I had the amazing opportunity to photograph an incredible private estate in Coral Gables, Florida.  At over 40,000 square feet, this is certainly one of the largest residences we have ever photographed.  Particularly challenging because of its scale and our limited access to the property, we created 40 images over the two-day shoot for our client.

For a project of this size, and with only two days to shoot, I needed to develop a shooting and working method which was efficient in terms of my approach to lighting and composition.  Bold washes of light and utilization of the designer’s built-in lighting design were balanced with the natural ambiance of the south Florida late afternoon for most of our interior images.  Where and when I could, I used smaller, focused lighting instruments to highlight architectural and decorative elements, such as in the dining room, as well as the grand foyer.  Look at the ceiling above the iron chandelier in the foyer, as well as the wood detail in the dining table for examples of this approach.  For our hallway shots, most of the light is natural as it softly accents the incredibly theatrical light thrown from the chandeliers to the ceiling.  Our exterior photographs were all about the architecture, sculpture and unbelievable sense of space this property affords.  Crisp, Florida sunlight brought out the lush greens and warm hues of the stonework.

Dramatic images for an architectural photographer are often created with the tools of our trade… finding the harmony between design, form and the 3-dimensional space within a camera frame, and creating drama with strobe units and accent lights.  That is generally my shooting philosophy.  However, in this case, I will humbly say, it was all about the subject.  This assignment illustrates what good design can do for photography, and not the other way ’round.

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Miami Interior Design Photography – Architecture and Interiors Create Inviting Style

Miami is known for its beaches, but its incredible skyline offers an eclectic mix of modernism and historical art deco style.  This photographic assignment was really a treat for us, as we were asked to shoot a range of truly beautiful and modern interiors.  Viscayne Towers overlooks a glistening and moonlit Biscayne Bay, and my goal for the images was to showcase the warm, elegant urban lifestyle of the interiors with downtown Miami as its backdrop.  This slideshow features some of my favorite daytime, and evening views of this chic high rise condominium.

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Florida Interiors Photography – Modern elegance meets Mediterranean style

Brett Sugerman and Giselle Loor of b+g Design were inspired to add warmth and modern elegance to this Mediterranean – style home. Using custom millwork and a sophisticated palette of finishes and materials, they took a rather blank canvas and transformed it into a stylish family home. Now both liveable and beautiful, the result is b+g’s signature marriage of traditional architecture and contemporary interiors.  This shoot brought out a more naturalistic approach to our photography as we were extremely minimalist in terms of our approach to lighting.  Our compositional approach was also very clean, and reflected the architectural lines of the home.  I think the designer/photographer collaboration allowed for the creation of some truly memorable images which conveyed the beauty of light, color and texture within a modern residence.

We were really pleased that LUXE Interiors and Design Magazine published a wonderful editorial for this shoot.

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Interior Construction – Grossman Photography Puts Miami High Rise Office on Display

This Miami architectural interior design installation houses the headquarters of one largest law firms in the world.  We were commissioned to photograph the 130,000 square foot interior by Michael Considine who began the project in 2008.  Mr. Considine and his team achieved the client’s goals and set a new standard for the firm by creating a flexible, collaborative space for the attorneys and support staff.  The conference center, collaboration hubs, team areas, café, and five story connecting stair create environments where attorneys, staff and clients can interact.  To further enhance the idea of connecting people, extensive use of glass was employed throughout.  This strategy allowed natural as well as interior lighting to permeate the spaces. Sustainability was also a driving factor in the project.  The entire building as well as the law firm was designed to LEED Silver standards, further enhancing the quality of the interior environment and contributing to Greenberg Traurig’s firm-wide goal of environmental stewardship.

My approach as an architectural photographer allows the overall design to remain the primary focus of the photography, and in so doing, my work is shaped by the concept of the subject, not solely its line, its color and form.  This philosophy encourages me to create images which reflect the style of my clients and their unique vision for each assignment.

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Architecture Photography in Sarasota – A 21st Century Parking Structural Marvel

We had the terrific opportunity to work with one of the finest architectural firms in Sarasota as well as one of the nation’s leading builders of commercial architecture.  This parking structure is something of a 21st century marvel.  The shoot was faced with some logistical challenges because of our subject’s sheer size and its proximity to other buildings.  My approach to photographing this subject was a deliberate one; I decided to treat the structure as a sculptural, artistic form and create images which isolate its design elements.  Balancing this strategy with one of function, I felt it necessary to convey both scale and context by backing off and shooting the building framed within its environment.

This 240,000 square foot project was designed for the City of Sarasota by the award-winning architect, Jonathan Parks and built by Suffolk Construction. The challenge for the Palm Avenue Parking Garage and Retail Shops was to design a signature mixed-use building that would become a portrait of the Sarasota community.  The resulting design solution needed to welcome civic input and capture the spirit of the local artistic culture.

To achieve this, the façade has been designed in a curvaceous, free-form sculptural style that reflects the area’s artistic and modern environment. Located one block from Sarasota Bay, the organic contours of the exterior surface resemble the wind-filled sails of a ship. This design gesture perfectly reflects Sarasota’s past and present connection with the waters of the Bay.  The “sails” are designed to let natural light and ventilation into all six parking levels while screening the vehicles from public view. This is important in creating a welcoming and safe environment while providing a structure that “does not look like a parking garage.”

The project is designed to reach LEED-CS (Core & Shell) v3 Gold Level Certification.  Green components include an underground retention vault and cistern to store and treat storm water runoff from the site. A portion of the water is reused for the irrigation system.  Energy consumption will be reduced with LED lighting and an energy management system that will only provide artificial light when and where it is needed.  A solar carport is located on the roof and plug-ins for electric vehicles are provided.

The result is an iconic, user-friendly, environmentally responsible design that satisfies the functional, strategic, and aesthetic needs of the city, while contributing to the overall success of downtown Sarasota.


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Architecture and Photography in Unison – Office Depot Executive Offices are Brilliant and Bold

Architecture and Interior Design create an impressive and bright environment for Office Depot executives in their Boca Raton, Florida Executive Offices.

“Taking Care of Business”

Bustling with activity, our photographic team consisting of a photo stylist, lighting assistant and photographer did our best to remain inconspicuous as we roamed the massive lobbies, hallways and conference centers.  This particular shoot is evidence of how architectural interior design and photography enhance one another.  It is also representative of how architectural photography, for it to be successful, requires collaboration and cooperation with all involved.

The photographic selections are among our favorites of those we are allowed to share because of certain privacy policies.

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Modern Architecture with an Ocean View – Boca Raton, Florida

Last year, we had the opportunity to photograph a spectacular Condominium for a Real Estate Developer, Architect, and Interior Designer.  In addition to the beautiful decorated model units, we were commissioned to shoot the public spaces.  The images I have included are some of my favorites from our collection.  The lobby in particular, with its massive chandelier, is one of the images I feel was most difficult to capture, as it encompassed roughly fifteen different exposures, several of which were upwards of 10 minutes long.  We do this to capture the warmth of the space in relation to the cool exterior, but also to maintain the integrity of the design, as the colored lighting within the circular cutouts in the wall necessitated far more exposure than the rest of the room.  The resulting image is nearly seamless.

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Florida Architecture & Interior Design at Twilight

6:45 P.M.

Twilight imbues the South Florida shoreline with intense blue and violet hues.  This is my favorite time of day to be certain, as interior lighting begins to find its harmonious balance with the last few moments of the magic hour’s natural glow.  Photographers and painters alike have been creating mysterious, compelling and yes, “magical”, images during those elusive moments at dusk.  The “blue hour” as it some call it, is particularly effective for architectural and interiors photography because it enables the photographer to find a balance in the natural and artificial light and in this way, color and exposure can be controlled.  When I was shooting independent films years ago, we created some of the most amazing footage for both color as well as black and white films during twilight.  Of course, some of these images are also captured before sunrise, as well.

For me, when shooting interior design, twilight photography is a very effective way of creating ambiance within the interior space, while maintaining a sense of mystery and mood through visible windows.  Looking out into inky black nothingness can be dramatic, but arguably less beautiful as those deep blue hues.  Likewise, when shooting exterior architecture, waiting for the absolute perfect moment to capture a commercial building, or residence allows the interior of the space to glow while maintaining visual balance with the natural glow and accent lights on the outside of the structure.

Interior Architectural Photography – Miami Shoot

The new year has brought with it some wonderful new opportunities, but this recent job is a collaboration with a client with whom I have worked for many years.  This stunning interior design job yielded 20 photographs and I have selected just a few for sharing because they feature some amazing paintings as well as sculptural art.  It is always an honor for me to work with prestigious clientele.  The most satisfying challenge as an architectural photographer is exploring the relationship between photography and design.  This clean, contemporary interior was complemented by bold and colorful artwork as some of the below photographs illustrate.


Grossman Photography – Interior Design Photography for Top Florida Design Firm.

We recently completed shooting a gorgeous apartment in Fort Lauderdale.  This was a very contemporary design by one of South Florida’s most prestigious design firms.  Our photographic approach was to keep it dramatic while maintaining synergy with the clean design.  It has always been my goal to tell my client’s story with my work.  It is incredibly important for my own visual signature to be present within each image, but I feel it is perhaps more essential that my client’s signature style be seen, front and center.  Therefore, when approaching an assignment, I feel it is necessary for me to really have a good sense of what it is my client is saying with his or her own work, and that the design be the absolute focus of the photography.






Youtube. It’s not just for singers anymore.

After many years as a filmmaker, videographer and cinematographer, I have recently thought it both strategic professionally and satisfying artistically to begin documenting my photographic assignments with motion pictures.  Youtube is something with which I am extremely familiar.  As a very proud dad, I have posted video after video of my children, Holland and Adrian.  These two have kept me extraordinarily busy over the years, and it has been with great pleasure that I shared clips of their musical performances.

Here’s a great example of a collaborative effort between us.  That’s my son on the bass, and my daughter singing the blues:


It was a very hot and steamy south florida evening, and the stage was set.  That wonderful jazz quartet backing her up are my son and his talented friends.  Those five performers have a total of no less than 60 years performing between them if you can believe it!  My girl, Holland, is studying musical theatre at the prestigious University of Michigan.  GO BLUE!  My son is currently on a quest to improve the world at MIT.  GO ENGINEERS!

We shot this movie in less than one hour and had an amazing time.  Incorporating the Canon 5D Mark II, we set up a handful of my old Mole Richardson tungsten lighting instruments in a dark jazz club in Fort Lauderdale.  The dichotomy of these young musicians in this old club just seemed to fit a black and white look and the Canon handled it marvelously.  I have been so incredibly impressed, as a cinematographer educated and trained shooting film, with just how clean and beautiful this format is.  It is with the Canon 5D Mark II that I have been shooting various motion picture projects and the format seems a perfect fit for internet broadcast.

As one can clearly see, I have very strong justification for my tendency to focus most of my energies on my children, on Youtube and elsewhere!  Alas, it seemed more than strategic and satisfying to put myself and my photography up on the small screen to share my work with the internet community.  So, for now, I simply have portfolio montages uploaded for all who are interested in the work we do on a day in and day out basis.  Forthcoming, I promise, several unique incarnations of sight and sound which will highlight a behind the scenes look at our work, our shooting methods, and how I create my architectural photography.

GrossmanPhoto on Youtube