Douglas Friedman and Elle Decor Get Personal with Andy Cohen
You know Andy Cohen. Whether he’s dishing with real housewives, breaking down the latest entertainment news with the newsmakers, or just mixing a drink with your new favorite comedian, Cohen is everywhere. He knows how to get the real story out of his guests, always cutting the tension with a laugh and holding space during somber moments. But what about him? How do we get to know this man who helps us know so many others? Andy welcomed Elle Décor and Douglas Friedman into his home for the cover story of their September issue, but it wasn’t the first time that Douglas had hung out with Cohen. “I’ve known Andy for some time and we actually get along really, really well, so it was it was a really fun shoot to work on,” says Douglas. “He’s a very interesting person, he’s a very interested person. So he doesn’t make himself the center of attention. He’s a gracious host when you’re in his home and even though you’re there working he makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room. Which is kind of the opposite of what normally happens on a photoshoot.” It made for the perfect energetic exchange to get the shots that they needed.
When Cohen bought the apartment, it was actually the slow acquisition of three apartments in the West Village of New York City that he eventually blended into a single property. That makes it a big home by New York City standards, but also a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle. The layout presented unique challenges for Douglas as he worked out how to capture it in photographs. “It’s a fairly complicated house to photograph, especially that main living space he has. These unexpected volumes set in, and it’s challenging. Definitely, it was a challenge,” says Douglas. “You approach it very methodically. You address one problem at a time and eventually it all solves itself. You just have to be willing to put in the time, whatever the hours, whatever it takes to solve that little bit. It’s like a domino effect.” As each of those pieces come together, the space really starts to sing in a way that we can fully understand it, and regard the genius of its design and beauty.
Every home reflects the person who lives there, either purposefully or not, and in Cohen’s space there’s a lot to look at in every room. But as someone who knows him well, Douglas thinks that it’s Cohen’s office that reflects him the best. “His office is full of such interesting things, and they’re uniquely Andy,” says Douglas. “Whether it’s a keepsake from Madonna or something from Sarah Jessica Parker, or a box of Andy Warhol Polaroids, there’s all these one off things that are so interesting on their own, but as a collection you really see who Andy is.” There’s also a sealed glass case of letters he sent a friend from the summer he came out of the closet. It’s a space that acts as a cistern for a well-lived life, with a lot of space for more to come.
Check out Douglas’ photos of Cohen’s house here, and check out ‘Watch What Happens Live’ tonight: Douglas will be bartending all night!
Douglas Friedman Eats It Up for Food & Wine
Every year when Food & Wine sets out to find the best restaurants of the year, they embark on an intense investigation that takes half the year and tallies 45,000 miles of travel. They whittle the list down to a final 10 and share them with the rest of us, an incredible distinction for any restaurant. When Food & Wine asked Douglas Friedman to create a bevy of assets to go along with their annual list including portraits, food and interior photography, as well as time-lapse video, they let it be an extension of the process they go through to compile the list: Douglas photographed all 10 restaurants in only 10 days. “It was an exhilarating 10 days in 10 restaurants in 10 different cities,” Douglas says. “A lot of moving around. Not a lot of time in the gym, but a lot of time to eat,” he says with a laugh. “I just ate!”
Douglas is known for his portraits and interior photography, but he photographs food less. For him the transition is an easy one. Instead of approaching it as an entirely different skill set, he reimagines the process through a lens he’s an expert at. “When you approach food like architecture, it becomes super exciting,” Douglas explains. Dishes are prepared and presented the same way an interior designer prepares and presents, just on a different scale.
Photographing that many people at that many establishments in that few days over that much distance can be a real challenge. But it can be easier if the artist is surrounded by positive collaborators. “Everyone was so excited. Everyone was great. Everybody was really generous with their time, super excited,” Douglas says. “I would show up and we would have three hours to do this, make a time-lapse video, shoot everything, and get out and get on the next plane and keep going. We all just fed off this excited energy.” From the beginning it was a steep hill to climb, a nearly impossible proposition. But thanks to the hard work and continued positive energy of everyone involved they got everything they needed, wanted, and then a little bit more.
Douglas Friedman Reveals It All for Architectural Digest
In this month’s Architectural Digest, Douglas Friedman has three different stories that each delves into the lives of unique people. Norman and Norah Stone’s brick San Francisco mansion, Brigette and Mark Romanek’s Laurel Canyon family home, and Jessica Chastain’s New York City apartment are all created around the lives of the people who live here, making each space a revelation of who that person is. These three projects show how truly revealing a space can be.
When Douglas traveled to San Francisco to meet with the Stones it was to ultimately walk into their old school brick home whose inside is completely different from the outside. “Listen, Norman and Norah Stone are a legendary couple in San Francisco and in the international art world,” says Douglas. “The home is very traditional and then you walk in and they have meticulously restored it and filled it with the most incredibly brave collection of contemporary art. You’re in someone’s personal museum. Then to be working with Norman and Norah who are just the most fascinating creatures… truly amazing people.” Living in a museum doesn’t so much change a person as it does give a hint to the kind of people that would live there. Douglas found two collaborators who were generous, sophisticated, with rich senses of humor. The perfect partners.
Southwards in LA Douglas met up with Brigette and Mark Romanek and their family. Like the Stone’s, they had curated an amazing collection of beautiful things, but for this growing family the space has a different set of needs. Their home was immediately inviting. “This felt like it had a very specific point of view: Bridgette’s. Her ability to find a narrative with all of this stuff was incredible,” says Douglas. “One of the amazing things about her home is it’s not precious - in a good way. You don’t feel like you’re required to take your shoes off. Even though you probably should because everything in there is so fine.” Douglas photographed the entire family in their own spaces. It was personal, comfortable, and intimate.
On the opposite coast, Douglas got access to Jessica Chastain’s New York City apartment and what he found behind her front door is not what he was expecting at all. “There’s something fascinating about dipping into the life of a celebrity, especially someone who is so famous and has this incredible ability to conceal who she is,” says Douglas. “And it was so unexpected to walk into her home and be like ‘Wow, this is who Jessica Chastain the person is.’" Even though Chastain wasn’t with Douglas every step of the way he learned from the choices that she made about what went into her space and how she arranged it around herself. This is a woman whose job it is to disappear into the lives of other people, but when she comes home it’s all about her.
Every space reveals the truth about the person who lives there and designs it around their needs, and no one can read that language better than Douglas Friedman.
The First Presidential Debate
If everything goes as planned tonight’s Presidential Debate will be the most watched debate in American history, and likely the world. The 90 minutes that the candidates will spend on the stage together with Lester Holt will be the most viewed political discussion in human history, an event that will not soon be forgotten by those who watch it.
As an artists agency we’re lucky that we constantly butt up again history, and tonight is no different. A handful of our photographers have met with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for various projects and we present a selection of that work here.
Most recently, Hillary Clinton sat for Joe Pugliese with her Vice Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine. It was a quick, productive shoot for People Magazine that struck the tone Clinton was probably angling for. She comes off as warm and open, both elements her fans love and her detractors say are missing.
Joe has also photographed Trump. Last fall he tailed The Don for a day from the office to the street, to receiving adulation from his fans. It was the early days of the campaign long before anyone could even guess he’d be the nominee. But here we are a year later and it’s all eyes on Trump as he prepares to take on Clinton who has, arguably, been preparing for this moment her whole professional life.
Through his own storied career Marco Grob has also had the opportunity to work with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, bringing his signature gravitas to these two political animals that have their own versions of what leadership means. Marco also embedded in Obama’s White House, giving us looks at what the Presidency means that we haven’t seen before.
In 2012 when Barack Obama was Inaugurated for the second time, Stephen Wilkes set up for his signature ‘Day to Night’ series, photographing the whole day that hundreds of thousands of Americans collected on the National Mall to watch their President take the oath of office for the final time.
Finally, Douglas Friedman had the opportunity to photograph Hillary Clinton in 2013 for the cover of New York Magazine in a shoot that decontextualized this woman who brings with her a career of work and controversy, offering her up unadorned and markedly human.
Douglas Friedman Gives Voice for Elle DÃ©cor
Every space speaks the voice of the person who inhabits it, and no one knows that better than Douglas Friedman. Elle Décor invited Douglas to photograph two stories for their October issue, the cover story featuring Veronica Beard, and a feature of Jeffrey Kalinsky. It turns out that Veronica Beard and Douglas actually go way back; Douglas is familiar with family of Beard’s, and because of those relationships he took this project personally. “I felt like the pressure was really on,” says Douglas. “It almost rang more important because these people are like family. If it’s not incredible in the end it feels like you let people close to you down. It resonates stronger.” Douglas took the pressure, and a weekend at the house in Locust Valley, Long Island, and shaped those forces to get it right.
At first glance (and second, and third…) the most obvious element of Beard’s interior design of her home is the jubilee of prints and colors that dominate every corner of her home. It’s incredibly busy and common wisdom would say that all these prints clash against one another but there’s harmony hidden within them if you just lean into it. All those prints can get even louder when put into a single frame of a two-dimensional photograph but, as Douglas points out, it’s not something that should be fought against. They’re there to solicit a response so Douglas let them do just that. “You don’t try to make it balance, you make it as loud as possible,” he says. “You don’t shy away from it. And listen, it doesn’t always work when you do that in other spaces, but Veronica curated an insane mix of design that is magical and brave.” These prints are a reflection of who Beard is and Douglas shows her off the best way he knows how: he underscores the brave choices rather than muting them for a more conventional taste.
On the other side of the spectrum is Jeffrey Kalinsky, Vice President of Nordstrom and founder of the clothing boutique Jeffrey. Douglas met up with the retail master at his West Village townhouse and found a much more stark experience. “If anything this presents a whole other set of challenges,” Douglas explains. “When you’re working in a space that so architecturally pure and monastic and simple, you have to pay much more attention to every single object and every single line because nothing is lost. One of the hardest things to do in design is to show restraint and to be able to stop and pull back and edit out, and let the space breathe and that’s what Jeffrey is doing. His ability to edit is brilliant.” Douglas stepped back and let the spaces speak to him, and show their messages in the imagery. For each of these stories in Elle Décor, it was about Douglas getting out the way of what the space was telling him so we could hear the same thing he did.
Douglas Friedman Shines in the Dark with Sarah-Jane Wilde
Fur. Stuffed wildlife. Marble. Metal. Leather. This is what Sarah-Jane Wilde surrounds herself with. What many might see as macabre is called that because it touches death, but that touch makes it precious. With ephemerality comes value and it is on that line that Wilde has built her world. Douglas Friedman was invited into the model-muse-designer’s world when C Magazine sent him to her home for an interiors and portrait project. But Douglas wanted to do something a little more. And so did Wilde. “She pushed me to go a little bit further, I was encouraged to go further, and fortunately the magazine was also encouraged by our willingness to go further," he says with a laugh. The result is a series of images that tells us not only about her space but also about her unique way of approaching the world.
When a space is well designed it reflects the personality of the person who lives there and becomes a special embodiment of their values and pleasures. Tablescapes, taxidermy, and tile build a picture of a woman who is restructuring our idea of what we should consider an American Classic. In C Magazine’s story they tell of when Wilde was rolling down Santa Monica Boulevard in her Rolls Royce Corniche Coupe towards home to make dinner for her kids when Justin Bieber took time out to tell her how cool she looked. This is a woman who is living the life of a mom a little differently. Douglas didn’t want to water down her point of view in a typical celebrity interiors story, he wanted to really let us get a taste for her. “It’s a lot more exciting because you can really take an idea and take a bit of a risk,” Douglas says. “It was an infectious energy. Everyone on set just kind of wanted to have a lot of fun with these pictures. And they really reflect who she is.” That meant setting up scenes more than sprinkling objet d'art around the space. They created scenes and stories, engrossing them into something richer.
Sarah-Jane Wilde has secrets. Not because she's hiding anything, but because she’s more than we assume. Each new shot with Douglas was a fresh challenge that they got to tinker with, formulate, and perfect. “We just wanted to keep going,” says Douglas, but the day came to an end. And then Wilde, dressed in her finest fur and jewels, fed the koi.
Douglas Friedman Examines Beauty for Elle DÃ©cor
Beauty is about so much more than aesthetics. It’s about expression and personalization. It’s about bold choices and confidence. And all these elements show up in a living space if someone is willing to live beautifully. Douglas Friedman just completed two shoots with Elle Décor that examine beauty in different ways. The first was with Marisa Tomei, whose New York City apartment has been home for more than a decade that has developed into a very personal fingerprint. “It was exciting to shoot an Oscar winning actress that I grew up with,” says Douglas. “It was wonderfully refreshing to go into someone’s home where it wasn’t done by a decorator. This was a home that reflected her 12 or 15 years of living in that apartment. Just layers, and layers, and layers of her life, of her personality, of her experiences, and it’s all there. It makes for a really beautiful, beautiful home.” Although Marisa has a hand for style, what makes the house a home is that she truly lives in it and it’s a reflection of her life.
That personal connection with each element of her space made her the perfect resource for Douglas for showing off the space in the most authentic way possible. “She was so warm and I loved that she was involved,” says Douglas. “It was a really nice way to work. It was important to me that besides getting a beautiful story, I got a story that completely reflected who she was.” Each space tells a story and after more than a decade in a space, Marisa’s home has become a perfect reflection of her, and Douglas was able to show it off to us.
Elle Décor also sent Douglas to Ken Fulk’s latest, massive project in San Francisco. Over the last four years, Fulk has renovated a 19th century landmark from the beams up, turning it into a dream. Douglas has photographed Fulk’s work untold times before, and each time it’s like coming home. “Ken Fulk is my muse! I adore the man as a friend, he’s really become family over the last four years,” says Douglas. “I’ve seen so many of his projects, but this one really reflects what he does at his peak, at his best. It’s so incredible. It’s Ken’s imagination without anything limited; there were no boundaries. A really spectacular project.” Where Tomei’s home is about a collection of personal imprints collected over a decade, Fulk’s latest project is about an unbridled creative romp. But as Douglas shows us, each are supremely beautiful by their own unique signature.
Douglas Friedman Helps Melania Trump Keep the Conversation Going
Whether you like it or not, Donald Trump has captivated audiences all over the world. Thousands, if not millions, of people stand arrested awaiting the words that come out of his mouth whether they end up infuriated or inspired by them. But Donald Trump doesn’t live in a vacuum; he’s surrounded by his friends and family including his wife Melania Trump whose own merits make her a mogul in her own right. Donald’s shadow is large and deep, so when Douglas Friedman was asked by Harper’s Bazaar to photograph Melania he wanted to do something bold. “I really like working with Melania. Because Melania and I have worked together a few times before, she trusted me and she trusted the ideas that Harper’s Bazaar had,” says Douglas. “It’s a rather delicate discussion considering that her husband is Donald Trump and he’s running for president. Their image is highly monitored and curated so we were very delicate in negotiation, moving forward with some rather unconventional and elevated ideas about what we were going to do with her to break the mold of just a portrait of her and do something that might be a bit more memorable and charming.” They played with conventional political imagery while keeping the final compositions very truly Trump.
Douglas’ concept incorporated the Trump apartment into the frame so that the audience would be faced with gold gilding and marble elements around the border of the image. It put the story into a context that was not only truer but also more revealing (those two things are not always the same). For Douglas, this was a crucial element for understanding who Melania is and bring her into the wider story that has captivated the world since last spring. “It’s always more interesting for the viewer to feel like they’re getting a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes,” explains Douglas. “It adds so many more layers to the conversation. At the end of the day, for me, being that it was a challenging concept to push through with Melania and the big Trump press machine it was a means of creating the most interesting visual possible. Why would you focus in on just Melania and the American Flag when you can give a whole other layer of meaning and information?” By engaging these different layers of experience through the depth of the image, we see more of Melania because we see more of her life and we can understand her in a better way.
The energy of the shoot didn’t just come from what was in that gold and marble room, but there was also the knowledge that the whole world would not only see these images but would likely have a very strong reaction to them. “It was one of those shoots that was so exciting to be on because you’re in the epicenter of this cultural, global moment,” says Douglas. “It was all very exciting because we knew we were doing something that was going to hopefully create a little bit of buzz. It was wild. It’s so much bigger than any one of us.” Almost no one has a small reaction to who Donald Trump is and what he stands for, and that conversation is always important to the cultural discourse. It’s stories like these that Douglas and Harper’s Bazaar put together that help keep the conversation going (like on Page Six of the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the Washington Post, ELLE).
Happy Holidays: 2015 in Review
As we come together with loved ones and friends to close the year, we’d like to take this time to reflect on some of our favorite moments from the last year. Included here is a list of some of our favorite stories we’ve had the pleasure to share with our community and friends. This year our artists helped usher in the next generation of Star Wars stars, discovered what bacteria lurk in NYC’s subways, sent hundreds of mean postcards to adoring fans, and put their own stamp on the 2016 Presidential campaign.
Our artists have done amazing things, so let’s take some time to remember some of the best stories from 2015 before turning our focus to the New Year.
We hope you have Wonderful Holidays, and a Happy New Year.
Weeks before Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters, Marco Grob photographed the cast of the highly anticipated movie for Time Magazine. Not only did he get to photograph the human stars, he also got to spend time with the famous R2-D2 and meet the newest favorite: BB-8.
Riding the New York City subway can be a precarious situation, not because of the unpredictable riders but because of what lurks on the handrails. Craig Ward wanted to see what exactly he has holding onto every day and the answers were both beautiful and revolting.
Sawdust and Nike Reach New Heights
One project with international powerhouse Nike is celebration enough, but when Sawdust teamed up with the athletic juggernaut for three bespoke typefaces it was an honor. Not only were they creating these solutions for Nike, but they'd be paired with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant, three of the most powerful names in basketball. What they created turly elevated the game.
This year Joey L joined Annie Leibovitz, Erwin Olaf, and David LaChapelle as a photographer for Lavazza's annual calendar. With the theme “From Father to Son,” Joey L examined how the tradition of sustainable farming is passed on from generation to generation, and how food gets to our tables from around the world.
People's Sexiest Man Alive is always a hotly watched and eagerly awaited issue, and frequently their most popular. When Marc Hom got the call to photograph their non-traditional choice this year, David Beckham, it was an honor and a thrill. And on the day of the shoot, Beckham didn't disappoint.
For more than a decade Stephen Wilkes has been pursuing his ongoing personal project of condensing an entire day into a single photograph. This year, Stephen showed off some of his favorite shots at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, a great way to look back on all the work he's done, and look forward to what's still to come.
Over the course of months with locations stretching from The Costume Institute to the Louvre's vault, and even the private archive of Yves Saint Laurent, Platon captured the epic vastness of the Met's latest blockbuster. "China: Through the Looking Glass" examines how China's history has impacted the rest of the world through design influence, and Platon was able to photograph every step along the way.
Mr. Bingo's ongoing series "Hate Mail" pits the artist against those who pay for the pleasure of being berated by him through the post. Enough fans have gotten their kicks this way that he turned them all into a book that catalyzed an enormously successful Kickstarter. Books are available for purchase now!
Living a life in the limelight isn't always easy, so when We Are The Rhoads teamed up with Taylor Swift for their latest Keds campaign, they immediately found common ground. By creating a safe space the mega celebrity was able to focus on the moments with Sarah and Chris, resulting in images that are effortlessly Taylor.
Style is communication and a stylist has the power to shape how their subject communicates to the world. For Uzo Aduba's cover of As If Magazine, Stacey Jones dove into feminine luxury, offering the Emmy Award winning actress the opportunity to step away from the orange jumpsuits that her fans so often see her in.
Paris is a hotbed of fashion and style, making it a dream destination for many and attracting artists from all over the world. Tom Corbett is no different. On his latest assignment for Somerset he really sank his teeth into the city, taking advantage of every block and street corner, capturing the beauty of the city and the ease of its powerful energy.
It's hard to describe Donald Trump's political rise, so sometimes the best option is to not even try. When The New York Times Magazine tasked Stanley Chow and Jamie Chung with an image that spoke to the story they got right to work on something that felt honest but was also a lot of fun.
When Marcus Bleasdale began his work as a photojournalist it was to make a difference, but an artist can never be sure if their hopes are going to come to fruition. Marcus' has. His work with Human Rights Watch has lead to changes in law, and even helped end a war. Their joint gallery show, "Impact," proved it.
Chipotle has seen better days, but before their troubles they made a very solid decision when they asked Harriet Russell, Sarah J. Coleman, Adam Hayes, and Dave Homer to create illustrations for their bags and cups. Each illustrator was paired up with a writer whose pieces were to serve as the inspiration, and the results are as delicious as you can imagine.
Ken Fulk is a master at interior design, and Douglas Friedman is a master at photographing interiors. When the two came together in a show-stopping shoot of Elle Decor, Fulk's vision leapt off the page thanks to Douglas' unique ability to translate space into flawless photographic composition.
Bernie Sanders represents one of the most interesting political stories this season, and like any political character his whole persona is hard to distill into a single image (even a photograph!). Ryan McAmis took his time, and dug deeply into his bag of tricks, creating a portrait for the cover of National Journal that is as honest a representation as we've ever seen.
It's not every day that passion projects turn directly into corporate campaigns, but when UPS saw Brian Doben's "At Work" series they knew they needed it for themselves. Brian extended the project, meeting with read UPS customers that happened to run their own small businesses, to see what it's really like to work with a company that caters to their needs.
Cinemagraphs are becoming more and more popular, but Chloe Aftel was there since day one. In fact, she's sort of become a go-to photographer to create these captive moments that she finds particular expressive because of their ability to inject more emotion and more story.
Sometimes the best way to talk about serious issues is with a good laugh, so when Todd Selby linked up with Evolve on a series of gun safety PSA they imagined what other things kids get into. Whether it's playing with condoms like balloons, or tampons like Wolverine's claws: the kids will get into anything and, most of the time, it can be hilarious.
Few artists are as closely watched as Banksy whose work is discussed and devoured the world over, so when James Joyce got the call to be included in Banksy's latest installation it was a no-brainer. James' contributions ended up including the cover of Dismaland's catalogue, a piece that has now been distributed the world over and marked as a coveted accomplishment for any creative CV.
We cannot pretend we know what the future will hold, but if we had to bet we'd bet on Roof Studios' vision. They were tasked with glimpsing ahead for a spot with Toshiba that envisions how our relationship with technology will continue to deepen and grow, and shows us what that will look like.
Ice Skating GIF by Nomoco.
Serena Williams is a Superhero for Douglas Friedman
Serena Williams is coming off of a mixed summer. She had wins and losses, but one thing is for sure: her status as the apogee of sport remains cemented. It’s going to take a lot more than a single loss here or there (regardless of the prominence of the game) to change that. When Douglas Friedman caught up with her for a feature in Harper's Bazaar it was like butting up against someone who goes beyond pedestrian humanity. “You’re literally in the presence of a superhero,” Douglas says. “Of course it’s inspiring. She’s the most beautiful creature you’ve ever seen. It’s really incredible to work with her.” She has reached basically as high as anyone can be in her sport, effectively competing only with herself, but her grace never falters whether she’s on the court or on set.
“Who she is transcends those normal boundaries of what defines regular people,” explains Douglas. “She’s Serena Williams. But then the big surprise, what makes her so special… She’s so kind. She’s so warm. She’s so smart. She’s so giving and generous with her time and her spirit. She’s so larger than life but she’s so unbelievably accessible when you’re with her.” That accessibility was crucial for getting the shot that Harper’s Bazaar wanted. And from the beginning, Douglas knew it might not be an easy get.
It can be tricky to approach a star like Serena Williams with a high concept shoot. In every project, you want the images to stand out against the library of pictures of these people. Thousands, if not millions, of photographs exist of Serena Williams so it’s up to Harper’s Bazaar and Douglas to make something unique. When Douglas caught up with her, it truly could have gone either way. He was on assignment to get an energetic and fun photograph and couldn’t be sure how Serena was going to react. “I’m tasked with a rather interesting and challenging concept given by the magazine. Air guitar on the street with a tennis racket on the street, Serena,” says Douglas. “An interesting concept to approach someone with and it could have gone either way. I was kind of expecting her to be like “What? Really?” But you ask her and she delivers. That’s how she approaches everything and there’s no holding back. It was so much fun to work with her.” Serena’s willingness to play along made for an expedient shoot, capturing exactly what they needed in a way that set everyone up for success.
Douglas Friedman Goes Home with Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent
New York has a reputation for tiny apartments. Like puzzle pieces, every room is slotted into each other to maximize space efficiency that gets filled with the knickknacks and detritus of a lived life. Part of being a New Yorker is learning how to use these spaces in a way that is not only useful but also beautiful. Often times, those with means shirk traditional New York apartments in preference to a wider plan that feels more luxurious. But when you have the skill of Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent you can make the space work for you. Architectural Digest caught up with Nate and Jeremiah to look at their brand new New York apartment on lower Fifth Avenue, and Douglas Friedman stepped in to shoot the cover story.
“This comes across as a classic New York apartment,” says Douglas. “There’s this division, a sense of journey from space to space. It’s just big, beautiful bright airy rooms.” Each room is fit into one another, like traditional New York pads, but they’ve used the spaces to feel open in such a way that is classic but employed skillfully. It was imperative that Douglas communicated this sense of movement in the imagery so he engaged the feeling in the visual composition of the images. “You try and show a flow out of a room from the room you’re shooting,” explains Douglas. “You want to get a sense that there’s another space beyond. Even if it’s a slice of a door with a hint of a kitchen beyond it.”
Like any successful space, the apartment reflects the people living in it. Nate Berkus has made a reputation for crafting exceptional design that anyone can relate to. He and Jeremiah have extended that through their own space that they share with their daughter Poppy. The space has to be functional, but it’s still beautiful and comfortable. “They’re not pretentious. They’re very warm and accessible and I think that’s what comes through in this apartment,” says Douglas. “It does not feel remotely precious. You’re encouraged to embrace and use the space. You leave your shoes on, you sit in the couches, you sit on the chairs. You don’t ever feel like you might break something or dirty something. You’re welcome into their home.” If you can’t make the trip, you’re in luck: Douglas’ shoot of the space is in this month’s Architectural Digest. Take a look.
Douglas Friedman Goes Home with Ken Fulk
Ken Fulk’s home in Provincetown is not a museum. It is an old house, originally a boarding house with all the original numbers on the doors, that Ken has expertly restored and populated with antiques. But nothing about it feels untouchable. “It’s such a magical place,” says Douglas Friedman who shot Fulk’s home for Elle Décor. “Provincetown is such an incredible place, and then to know what Ken did to bring this house back to life is an incredible process.” Douglas has shot Fulk’s interior work many times before, but this one is special. The fact that this is Fulk’s own home means there’s a whole other level of personal touch to it. Every piece and element was not only chosen for how it fits into the composition, but also for its connection to Fulk and his space. The space is absolutely full of details and features, but each one chosen with care.
Every element removed or polished or newly placed was done with as light a hand as possible to maintain what was already unique about the home. “Ken made these really brave choices in an effort to maintain the original character, the real spirit, to salvage everything he could possibly salvage that was original to this home,” Douglas says. “He made these choices to keep layers of old paint and wallpapers. And it’s the most incredible finish. I don’t think that you see a lot of renovations today that try too hard to harken back to another time. It’s a wonder to walk through.” Every piece and element was not only chosen for how it fits into the composition, but also for its connection to Fulk and his space. The space is absolutely full of details and features, but each one chosen with care. That consideration is what Douglas hooked onto to tell the story of this home.
Part of Douglas’ work is to help the spaces he shoots make as much visual sense as possible. He almost gilds the work of the interior designer (obviously Fulk in this case) so that it presents itself beautifully and effortlessly in the frame. But when he works with Fulk they are on common ground. Their sensibilities line up so closely that Douglas doesn’t have to work for it to make sense. It already does. “It’s almost like Ken has a photographer’s eye,” Douglas explains. “The rooms are so balanced. You think you’d be moving a lot more, but you don’t. It’s the idea of clutter, but nothing’s cluttered about it. Everything makes sense and has its home. Not even a matchbook was placed without care or thought.” When Douglas and Fulk come together, two people who have such incredibly keen eyes on interiors and understand the compositional balance of a living space, its hard to not feel at home in anything they create.
In addition to this story in Elle Décor Douglas also shot the story “Hitting the Mark” in the same issue. Highlighting Michael Bruno’s home in Tuxedo Park, the images are as luxurious as the interior design, framing texture and tone on par with the modality of the surrounding community.
Douglas Friedman is Cultured
We know that in its purest form, art is about communication. But the adept artist can do so much more. Each piece of work is the beginning of a moment with the audience, a captive moment, and it's up to the artist to use that time well. To communicate the ideas of the project is the base goal, but the artist can go further and construct an entire emotional story in that still moment (or moments in the case of living media or motion). In this way, every moment with an artist can become part of an infinite exhibition, engaging the audience without end, challenging them, provoking them, even teaching them.
For the cover of the latest issue of Cultured Magazine, Douglas Friedman photographed artist Dustin Yellin. Dustin is best known for his gigantic sculptures that dance through enclosed space. First he applies thousands of paper cut outs onto pieces of glass constructing a sort of slice of the final piece. Then he layers them together creating a full three dimensional work. This kind of work requires a vast amount of workspace, something that Yellin has secured for himself, and immediately adjacent to that he’s created an exhibition space, the Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation. “It’s an incredible creative complex he’s built out in Red Hook,” Douglas says. “Besides the fact that his studio space is such an incredible creative factory, he is such a fascinating subject to work with.” That fascination made some exciting images.
“I did not ask him to drop his trousers” Douglas announced, without cue. But that doesn’t mean it was uninvited. Must of Douglas’ work features his subjects revealing something that they normally don’t show, and this is by design. Douglas explains: “There’s so much imagery that’s created these days so to kind of encourage a little bit of a wink. That little something extra is what makes the picture that much more interesting to look out. You can see how much more exciting the picture becomes when he does something unexpected.”
To get the cover image, Douglas worked with Yellin’s assistants to provide the feeling of Yellin’s work spreading into his own space. They applied a dozen or so elements onto Yellin’s glasses, and for Douglas it was an initiation into Yellin’s process. “The amount of work that goes into one of those pieces… The time and the effort and the energy and the thought is overwhelming to me,” says Douglas. His own work as an interior photographer employs a similar discipline, moving pieces in his composition, sometimes by the half inch, to ensure they create the image that displays exactly what he’s going for. In many ways they operate in the same process, to similar ends, but at different magnification. “It becomes a bit of a meditation,” Douglas explains. “What a wonderful opportunity to lose yourself in that process to the point where you’re not aware of your phone or the noise that we’re constantly bombarded with on a day to day basis.”
Entering Exclusivity: Douglas Friedman's Tour of Mustique
Mustique is one of the most exclusive islands in the world. A vacation spot for the elite, entrance to this Antilles paradise is more than most of us could hope for. Other restricted communities similar to Mustique sit behind locked gates that we must pay dearly to get the keys to. But why try so hard to get the keys when Douglas Friedman already has them?
Douglas has been visiting Mustique for more than two decades and the small community is well known to him, having explored the island for these twenty years. As he explains, the people who inhabit the island are very friendly and keep their doors open. “Everyone is pretty generous when you’re there,” he says. “There are no locks on the island. You just kind of show up.” That generous and open environment offered Douglas the access to capture a huge array of homes in a very short amount of time for their photographic essay, "The Magic of Mustique."
Douglas’ experience with the island along with his ongoing partnership with DuJour created the perfect creative storm for this story. Their collaboration has ensured creative communication and common ground, making the shoot as efficient as possible resulting in a mass amount of beautifully composed photographs. “DuJour saw that it was a good match because I’ve had a relationship with the island for a long time,” he explains. “I think because I’m so intimate with the homes on the island I was actually able to pretty much know exactly what I wanted to shoot before we arrived.”
After all this time, Mustique hasn’t changed much. In the two decades Douglas has been walking the island (barefoot), the island has been largely untouched by time. “I think the changes are quite subtle,” he says. “The houses have gotten bigger and more fantastic. Some might even say outrageous. But everything is so private you don’t really notice. The feeling of the island is still the same. You wouldn’t think of wearing a pair of shoes, ever.” Perhaps the reason it has gone so unchanged is that outsiders rarely have the opportunity to visit and bring in a different energy to such an insular community. But despite the exclusivity, we have still been offered this taste of Douglas’ second home.
Denim Is Very Serious Business for Douglas Friedman
In San Francisco there is a laboratory that measures the effects on natural materials by ozone, lasers, and acids. The people who work at this lab are constantly exploring, creating, and innovating what will ultimately change the way we interact with the world. Specifically our denim. The lab is Levis’ Eureka Innovation Lab, and it is filled with creative people who love denim and are searching to discover the next level of invention. Photographer Douglas Friedman teamed up with GQ Germany to explore this creative hub. “The whole thing was so exciting to see how they make jeans, how they make Levis, how bespoke and hands-on and organic the process is,” says Douglas. “It’s a lot less clinical than I thought it was going to be. It’s an experimental laboratory where they play and they create.”
The lab is full of the kinds of machines you’d expect at any laboratory, but at Levis’ Innovation Lab, it’s not the sparkling clean familiar to a medical facility with the sterile science behind the slow trudge of medicine. Instead, it’s a much more dynamic environment. “Everyone who works there is young and creative and there’s energy that was inspiring and exciting to be around,” says Douglas. “Giant washing machines full of stones for the stone washing, acid for the acid washing, vats of indigo dye to makes shirts and jeans and experiment with different colors and textures and this incredible machine that uses a laser beam to age brand new denim. It was all so fascinating.” There are even safes where they lock up their experiments. It’s very serious business.
When it comes to Douglas’ own denim he’s just as serious, taking the time and effort to age them on his own. He gets his pairs crisp and wears them until they’re aged exactly the way he likes them. But, even though his jeans aren’t coming out of Levis’ Innovation Lab, he has one rule: “I only have Levis jeans.” He is brand loyal.
When asked if he notices a work adjustment to cater to photographic tastes in other countries, Douglas jokes with a laugh, “I have a really healthy relationship with the countries of Germany and France.” His style remains signature to Douglas Friedman, no matter where he finds himself.
Douglas Friedman's Welcome Challenge
When the call came in from Harper's Bazaar for Douglas Friedman to shoot Julie Macklowe again, he knew exactly what to expect. He and Julie's family have been working together for about seven years; Douglas has shoot Julie no fewer than three times for Harper's Bazaar. Even though they clicked immediately the first time, each progressive shoot develops their relationship resulting in deeper and more expressive photographs. "She gets better and better," Douglas says. "I think what makes our working relationship, our creative relationship, so special is that she is very willing to trust me and trust my ideas." Those ideas result in Julie climbing into the windows of her apartment, playing telephone with her daughter, and lounging on a bed surrounded by inflated frogs.
Douglas' particular talent is being able to frame expressive portraits in beautiful interiors. When asked how he does it, he says there's no trick. He's really shooting two photographs every time he hits the shutter. He explains the demands of what he has to shoot: "Beautiful interior shots that could exist on their own, with or without Julie. And then you’ve got to take a beautiful portrait that could also exist with or without the interior. Kind of marrying those two together." What results are environmental portraits on another level. They’re expressive and contextual, telling us a story that each element couldn’t tell independently. “It’s always a challenging process,” Douglas says. “A welcome challenge.”
When asked about the more experimental aspects of the images, like a population of frog balloons with Julie’s daughter jumping on her bed, Douglas responds with a knowing humor. “We like to be a little playful at Harper’s Bazaar. Amp up or elevate the reality a little,” he says. That elevation crystalizes the story a little more so Julie’s personality and temperament leaps off the page. Since Douglas has gotten to know Julie so well, we get to meet the woman he knows – and she’s a lot of fun.
Viagra Changes the Conversation with Douglas Friedman
Viagra, the little blue pill that has changed later life sexual health for millions of users and their partners, faces a particular advertising challenge. They need to convey their message to potential new users in a way that’s comfortable and safe. Erectile dysfunction is a complex issue, with so many men and women touched by its effects. It is an unwelcome guest in millions of relationships, each with their own unique architecture. While Viagra’s competitors focus on obtuse, metaphorical images, Viagra wanted to change the conversation. The problem was that no one was actually having a conversation.
ED can cause serious tension in relationships when the issue is approached as a non-health concern, as if it were a secret, dark shadow cast between two people. Millions of American men face ED every day, so there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a well trod conversational issue between mature adults. Viagra’s latest campaign worked to create this new conversation with photographer Douglas Friedman whose style and, both artistic and personal, was the perfect match to understand the new direction. “They’re trying to remove the stigma that Viagra is something that you whisper about,” says Douglas. “They want to make it something a little sexier, they want to make it a common, everyday conversation between a woman and her man. Remove the stigma.” So they recontextualized the entire conversation.
Pulling the conversation out of the bedroom at home, Viagra and Douglas went to Ibiza, Spain utilizing one of the most glamorous backdrops in the world. They set up a series of shots, using luxurious set ups for this new conversation. “They wanted to create a series of provocative images, the scene being a beautiful woman in a beautiful room in a beautiful place with a beautiful view,” explains Douglas. By making the conversation inherently attractive, Viagra has shaped it so that the conversation includes nothing to fear. Connecting this vital communication with a host of appealing elements, the whole spin changes. And Douglas was the perfect choice to captain this shift.
Douglas’ work as an interior photographer gave him the perfect baseline to bring in these new elements to Viagra’s story. “I do environmental portraits,” Douglas says, “where the environment is just as important as the subject.” Pairing these women with the striking environment, Viagra and Douglas were able to play off his expertise and create a whole new avenue for this crucial health issue.
Douglas’ unique brand of humor set the perfect tone for the shoot. Although they were approaching a serious issue, Douglas is able to keep it light and energetic on set to keep everything moving. “It was hot and it was fun, and it was a sexy shoot. Everybody was in a great mood for it,” Douglas says. “It was challenging, but definitely a fun one.”
Douglas Friedman's Music and Muses
Music inspires. It guides. Music can be a bowl to carry ideas, and a place to find a muse. It can be an obsession, a love, a way of life. It can be a path. For Mia Moretti, Oh Land, and Judith Hill, music is their path. They each have independently chosen a life of music, letting their love and passion of song and rhythm guide them into their futures. Martha Stewart Weddings Fall Fashion 2014 chose these three women to present over a dozen wedding gowns, all picked and styled through musical inspiration. Whether it was a weighty ball gown for an operatic stage, or a gold beaded sheath dress for a jazz hall, each look was rooted in musical tradition. And Douglas Friedman was behind the lens to capture it all.
For three days, Douglas, his team, and these three ladies ran all throughout New York City showing off how different all these looks are. “Every shot was a location. Every shot was a mood. It was a marathon. We sprinted a marathon. It was a lot of fun,” Douglas said. As a team they did the work of transforming each of those moods in the space, using lighting, framing, sets, and the performances of each of the women. “They were real good sports,” Douglas says about the ladies. “They really worked hard to channel something that might not have been familiar to them.”
Douglas is known for the meticulous framing and composition in his work. He’ll use every minute necessary ensuring that each element sits precisely in the frame where it needs to. And he won’t begrudge a second of it. But he does need his music. “Always,” he says. Always needs the music. But for this particular shoot, since the inspiration came from music, it was particularly important. “We had a soundtrack at every location we shot,” he says “We’d have the music going that was telling the story that we were telling. It was good for morale for the crew, it was great for the subjects.”
There is one little tricky thing when it comes to shooting a dozen bridal gowns for one story: it could get boring. But Douglas and Martha Stewart Weddings presolved this by having Mia Moretti, Oh Land, and Judith Hill be the models for this project. They are real people performing inside the dresses. They’re not mannequins. “The three girls are all personalities, they’re not models,” Douglas explains. “So we didn’t want to kind of be deceitful. It could be repetitive, it could look very repetitive.” Instead, they went the route of authenticity and found the inspiration behind every look.
Douglas Friedman Catches a Glimpse of Melanie Griffith's New Pad for People Magazine
Melanie Griffith has experienced a lot of changes in her life recently. Her recent divorce means that she gets to do things her way now. She gets to create a space that is uniquely hers, designing her nest the way that she wants it, and exactly the way that she wants it. “It’s elegant and wild at the same time,” the actress told People Magazine who featured her new home. “It’s got more pizzazz.” That pizzazz came from Melanie working to have the apartment reflect herself. “The apartment kind of channels this old Hollywood, deco-glamour,” says Douglas Friedman, who shot the interior of her new apartment for People magaizine. “Melanie Griffith is Hollywood royalty. She comes from that incredible lineage. It totally channels her, completely glamorous and royal.”
“She’s really proud of her space,” says Douglas. Being invited to a personal space like that can be an exciting thing, and an honor in its own way. But Douglas knows that Melanie wants to show off her new pad, and so he does everything he knows how to make it look as good as possible.
Part of Douglas’ craft is to make an image as elegant and beautiful as possible, and that means a lot of tinkering. Sometimes it’s moving huge pieces of furniture tiny distances that might not make sense to an outsider in the moment. But it all pays off in the end. “Homeowners find it so strange that you start to move things around by the inch,” Douglas says. “What looks great in real life doesn’t always translate to the photograph.” And millions of eyes are going to look at the photograph, so it’s important to translate the experience as beautifully as possible. The key, says Douglas, is that he’s not changing anything about what Melanie has put into her space. “You don’t want to change what they’ve done and how they live and what they love,” says Douglas. That would sort of defeat the purpose. “Who she is already in the space. That’s her home.”
Like most things in life, Melanie’s apartment isn’t exactly where she wants it to be. The whole renovation has been happening over 10 months piece by piece. “I don’t think it’s completely finished yet. But it’s a happy place,” she says. After all, when things are finished, it’s time to move on. And she just got here!
Douglas Freidman and Donghia make the interior personal
One can wear their space like clothes. Constructing an interior design is the same as constructing an outfit. It says to the world, “This is who I am, and this is what I care about.” Douglas Friedman took this to heart when assembling Donghia’s campaign, focusing on the intersection of personal and public style. He highlighted the dual inspiration behind Donghia (the designer's father was a tailor) by juxtaposing well-crafted interiors against impeccably hung apparel.
So many elements, the clothes, the casting, the curation of furniture pieces, meant a lot of moving parts. Donghia had their vision planned out, but it had to be executed in real time. Douglas explains the beginning stages of creating the campaign saying, “There’s only so much you can do on paper. And then once you start to put the elements together that process creates a whole new set of challenges that needs to be addressed and solved.” That necessity to change required a fluidity from Donghia that they managed expertly. “The people at Donghia were great collaborators,” Douglas says. “And they were very open to the creative process with me.”
Interiors are already challenging enough, and have a long list of inherent boundaries. The room is a fixed size, the page that the ad will be printed on is inflexible. “You’re kind of building out, you’re creating these environments and everything has to sit so specifically within this box you’re given,” says Douglas about those limitations. “That’s what takes all day. Because you end up adjusting things by the inch. Everything is so hyper considered, every line, every shadow, everything becomes important because it’s occupying valuable real estate.”
It’s a three dimensional puzzle that doesn’t have a correct answer. The variables are infinite, and the image becomes less about perfection and more about the pleasure of a delicately constructed composition. “That’s the challenge and that’s the fun part,” Douglas says.
Unlike a high stakes fashion shoot that is based on energy and eking out a performance from a model, shooting an interior like for Donghia allows a harmony to build over time. The image becomes about the meticulous creation based on reflection. It’s object mediation, finding the voice of the components of the room. Douglas explains, “You’re meditating on something. You’re looking. You’re staring.” Building a silent and visual harmony. “It’s such a nice headspace to be in.”
This near obsessive consideration has become an integral part of the way Douglas approaches his own space, and changed the way he sees his environment. He says, “Every room I walk into [I think], “How would I photograph it?” So my aesthetic, how I curate my own space, is based on that. Very geometric. There’s a method to it.” His own space has become a sort of outfit to express what he cares about and what he sees.
The Hair and Make-Up were done by another B&A artist, Kerstin Jaeger.