Posted by: larnymackblog | May 12, 2014

The life of a commercial photographer (Day 13,141)

After 36+ years as a San Diego commercial photographer, I still get the occasional question, “So, shot anything really fun ?” I know what they want to hear but I still try to give them an accurate answer.

“Why yes, just last week I photographed 13 commercial water dispensing machines from Glacier Water.”  I’ve learned not to interpret their quizzical or disappointed look as a desire for more detail.

They don’t want to hear how it required three photography assistants, a truck full of lighting, 2 days of planning, live talent (models) review and selection, contract negotiations, site inspections, designing graphics, 13 hours of shooting (not uncommon for product photography), another 2 days of post production, paying the talent, paying the production team, and finally delivering finished images…No, they don’t want to hear that.

A guy wants to hear how I shot gorgeous models who spent the day provocatively parading in front of my camera while I did “Gawd knows what” inside my head.

A girl wants to hear how I photographed a beautiful bride in her late twenties wearing a Vera Wang, floating down the winding staircase to her perfect reception where her delighted guests munch crab cakes from Laurent Tourondel and gasp in wonder at how beautiful she is.

My wife wants to hear when we get the check from the water dispenser client.

I want to hear the phone ring with my next product or San Diego architectural photography assignment with a big budget.

I don’t shoot weddings or runway models. Explaining what I do takes too long.

product photography by Larny Mack

We moved them with a fork lift…No, not her; she was light as a feather. (Model: Katlyn Cole)

Larny Mack Photography is known for professional product photography in San Diego and Southern California. See for yourself why Larny Mack is San Diego’s premiere professional photographer.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted by: larnymackblog | April 7, 2014

Home of the Year Award for 2014

What a nice Christmas gift. I (My client and I) got the “Home Of The Year” award in the January Issue of San Diego Home/Garden. This was for our San Diego architectural photography. This typical 50’s single story Ranch was magically transformed into a 2-story Hamptons style home located in La Jolla, CA.


This is a “Campout” image. I blend exposures from key time points over a 2+ hour period.

My assignment was quite extensive, running three full days of shooting. Add to that, several days of post production. It was well worth it as it shows off everyone’s talents and won Home of the Year. There’s not much more that can be said. Seeing is believing.

Here is a wonderful shot across the pool looking back to the house. This one causes lots of drooling. Can’t you see yourself enjoying the cool water at the end of the pool while watching your favorite game?

Work Flow (Some of you asked)
Our process differs from many photographers. We are hired by, shoot and produce for the highest caliber of image usage. This usually translates to books, advertising and show submissions. Website and portfolio usage is obviously included. For contests in particular, it requires getting past the judges’ first and second rounds of elimination. This is where top notch photos will keep you in the running. Many worthy design projects have been discarded due to images being shoddy or “Good Enough”. I know, I have re shot several projects and they’ve won.

We start with a preliminary inspection of the project where we shoot scouting photos. For this one we shot over 150 angles. We meet with the principles, in this case, IS Architecture . Then we narrow our shot list and determine the best time to shoot each image (i.e. morning, afternoon, night etc.). The number of images and their difficulty determines how many hours/days for the project. We also ascertain what props and styling will be required. While props are being gathered, we outline what additional lighting gel masking (color correction) and additional rigging/gear is needed. On the day of the shoot, we all converge and get to work. There is myself, the architect (principle), stylist, and assistant(s).

Then we commence: Hard work, lots of fun, blah, blah, blah.

After the shoot it’s my turn to personally handle the post production. I don’t farm this out. Since I was there and crafted the shots, I know what I want. No one else can. This can make or break an image and I believe it’s part of the creative process.

Larny-Mack--La-Jolla-family-room-1Take a look at the rest of the images in our architectural photography gallery at Larny Mack Photography.

You can also pick up a copy of the January edition of San Diego Home/Garden. The architect on this project is IS Architecture.

Posted by: larnymackblog | November 20, 2013

Hats off to Arts & Crafts magazine

OK, so I got my photo (my clients project) on the cover of Arts & Crafts Homes  Magazine. After many years of garnering mag covers for my architectural photography, here’s the really cool part. THEY PAID ME.
You might wonder why I’m excited about it. The reason is simple. Most magazines, and more are trying, no longer pay. In the last few years, many magazines have stopped paying for usage of others creative content. Not so with Arts and Crafts. These folks get it and understand the process. We all need to be paid for our creative work. They don’t make their financial challenges an excuse to blame
others for their woes.
They are part of the publishing firm of  Cruz Bay Publishing. In fact, these folks are growing and expanding. . I believe it’s because they have a basic respect for other creatives (writers, designers & photographers), like themselves.
Good for them and good for me

Here are a couple of the images from the featured article. You can see the entire project at Larny Mack photography.

Front of craftsman home photographed by Larny Mack


Posted by: larnymackblog | June 21, 2011

In One End And Out The Other

Normally when I’m working a San Diego industrial photography shoot, I feel generally ready to take on any task. Now I know I’m ready for any photographic situation.

Close up of typical man-hole Cover.

Still called a man-hole cover. I guess ERA didn't want to argue for equality on this one.

Whenever I smell something bad I think of my mother. Don’t go postal on me; there is a back story to this. I’m the oldest of six children, so I spent the first twelve years of my life smelling dirty diapers, first my own (probably didn’t mind it), but then I was subjected to the innumerable contents of my remaining five siblings. Around the age of five I asked my mother, rather I demanded that we do something about the smell. She simply said “just turn your nose off.” Even at that tender age I figured she had gone round-the-bend.

She explained how not to breathe through your nose but through your mouth. To a five-year old this was too cool, so off I went to practice. I do remember asking her to alert me to the next Number Two encounter so I could test my nose-less prowess. It took a while but I finally got it. WOW. No more bad smells. I could walk through a cornucopia of olfactory assaults without hesitation.

By this time you have to be asking yourself, “What the bleep does this have to do with photography?” Well hang in there. Here it comes.

Yard view from the La Salina plant

Shot from atop one of the holding tanks

I recently completed a contract with the City of Oceanside. As commissioned by the Water Utilities Department, my charge was to document the City’s treatment plant. One of my specialties is industrial photography. These water facility plants process the clean or potable water but as one would suspect, they also handle the other end of the handle.

It was really quite fascinating. The challenge was to bring visual interest to a process that most would just as soon flush and forget. I had my doubts and preconceptions going in but those were quickly shattered when I saw the ducks. And who wouldn’t love the sight of ducks in a linear formation, especially a mamma duck and her brood of chicks.

At any rate, the plant manager met me at the door and steered me toward a beautifully landscaped yard where three large pools of water were waiting dispersal. I hadn’t seen the ducks yet. He explained that this was the last step in the treatment process of sewage. These 100ft diameter pools housed the water that would ultimately be emptied into the ocean. Like many of you, I’m seriously reconsidering my next trip to the beach. But wait, who are these ducks?

Cute little ducks at the water treament plant

Cute little ducks.

Swimming round & round & round is a family of water fowl. I’m guessing they couldn’t read the sign that said “Do Not Drink, non-potable water.” Who would know better what’s best for your children than momma? I’m also guessing the sign wasn’t there to really protect us from getting sick as much as protect our sensibilities. No, these ducks did not have three eyes, two bills, or an appendage growing out of their backs.

First stage, scrubber: Get the big chunks out

On we trudged to the beginning of the process. This was called the scrubber and where I thought of my mother. The plant manager warned me and said most tours avoided this particular building. However, my job was to document the entire industrial photography project not just the pretty parts. So, off went my nose. Less than 6 steps inside, curiosity got the better of me. OMG!!!

Stay tuned for Part Two: Never The Pipes Shall Meet

Posted by: larnymackblog | May 25, 2011

Architectural Photography Tips: Lines Are Your Friends

When shooting architectural photography, there’s a few tips you should know that will make your job much easier. If you don’t care about getting the best photo you can then don’t bother reading. Anything I suggest from here on assumes you are willing to invest a little time and brain power.

Don’t look up: If you’re shooting the outside of a tall building and you fall over backwards before you see the top of it in your viewfinder, then you’re doing it wrong. Find a vantage point that is either further back, higher in elevation, or preferably both. Shooting up at your subject causes “key stoning”, a term architectural photographers use to describe when vertical lines merge closer as the distance gets further from the camera. There is currently nothing built into consumer cameras to correct this, but it can be corrected later in Photoshop or a similar program.

Watch your vertical and horizontal lines: This is different than key stoning. This is a simple warning to make sure your camera is level horizontally before you shoot. There’s nothing worse than all your thanksgiving dinner settings sliding off the left side of the table.

Be sure of what you’re focusing on: If you’re shooting interior architectural photography, decide what you want in focus. Yes, I’m sure you want everything in focus, but that’s not usually possible without a tripod and a much slower shutter speed, which will increase depth of field. A good general rule is to focus on something that is 1/3 in from your camera position. Without going into a long explanation, everything 1/3 in front of and 2/3 behind your focus point will be in focus.

Lens distortion: Have you ever seen or produced a photo where a door frame or a roof line looks bowed? This usually happens when you are using a very wide angle lens. This is called barrel or pincushion distortion. It is caused by the actual lens construction. Even the most expensive lenses have some, but the cheaper cameras understandably use cheap lenses, and the distortion can be very pronounced. The easiest cure is to move back and zoom your lens in a bit.

I hope these little tips help you out, and feel free to contact me if you’re interested in San Diego architectural photography!

Older Posts »