Revitalizing a Robust Productivity Boom after a Creative Depression

Midway through 2016, I found myself in a Creativity Depression. I could not pinpoint when it started exactly. But when I realized it, there was a correlative Creativity Paralysis. 

Perhaps the Creativity Depression had followed a Creativity Repression that had seeped into the Economy of My Mind. 

While our interiors and corporate commissions continued as usual -- if not growing leaps and bounds over 2015 -- I felt a bit of a void regarding personal projects. Personal projects tend to be the mouth of a fire hose for where I discover new approaches to commissioned work. That fire hose can either be on full blast or barely dripping anything at all. 

If I had to pinpoint any blame, I might highlight the political atmosphere of 2016 into 2017 that dominated news cycles and overwhelmed my Facebook feed as well as a seeming uptick in violent events at home and abroad. I also blame myself for not doing more to ignore/overlook/eschew obsessing over political, national and international events. I tend to shake, lash out, and/or cry when I hear about a mass shooting or terror event. And 2016 offered no shortage of reasons to burst into emotional flames. 

Thanks to some forced changes within my approach to the consumption of the political climate and terror events, I've refocused as much of my attention toward creating new art and I have pushed myself to pursue some personal projects, including a couple photography projects, a few new motion picture projects, an increased amount of donating time to charitable work as well as taking French classes. 

The French classes are in anticipation for another upcoming trip abroad this spring. 

When approaching a personal project, I have found it's always good to start small. So my first project was an open call to friends on Facebook to stop by our studio for a portrait sitting. A few people asked if I bought new toys that I was trying out. "No," I said. "It's to get out of this damn Creative slump I've been in for too too long." 

The lighting I used was actually some of the first lighting I've ever used in my own work, which was a light behind the subject with a reflector in front. It's simple. Easy, and it's used quite a bit in films and TV that I love. 

I'm posting the photos I took for this series below. Roberta Jacobs is the first photo and she was the first to sit for me. Her sitting informed how I would approach the rest of the project, so you'll notice that her lighting is different from the rest. Otherwise, the differences all come from how different skin tones react to the same light. I also I wanted to use a very shallow depth of field of f2.8, which on medium format looks closer to f1.8 or f2. 

My hope for some of my upcoming projects is more of a "sketch" approach. That's to say, thinking about creating art that may not be fully realized but it contributes to a larger piece that will eventually take shape from a bunch of smaller sketches. 

Thanks to (in order of appearance below) Roberta Jacobs, Tabitha and her mother Emily Moskal, our lovely Tina Serafini, (then myself) followed by Kari Johnsrud and Miles Couric. 

Keep an eye out for other personal projects to follow.



Wilmette, meet Wittefini. Wittefini ... Wilmette.

We loved pops of color; the oranges, the magentas, and the blues in this Wilmette home featuring designs by Parker Jones Interiors. There is a sense of whimsy in the decisions throughout this home, and it spoke volumes for the way the principals at Parker Jones approach the vast variety of their projects. 

Photography wise, It was fun to integrate how lavish the sun looked as it beamed through the windows. The designs reflected the owners of the home, who quickly made Tina and me feel like we were part of their beautiful family. 

Enjoy a slide show of images below. 





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A beautiful home in Lincoln Park

A little over a week ago, Tina and I photographed a beautiful home in Lincoln Park for the very talented Parker Jones Interiors

It was a fun home to photograph with lots of inspirational design and some beautiful builtins. 

Enjoy the photos below. 

Davis Showroom at NeoCon 2016

For the second year in a row, the Wittefini team photographed and videotaped in the Davis Showroom located on the third floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. 

We love Davis's aesthetic of clean, modern lines and use of color. One reason I enjoy working on this project is because it's all available light photos. Typically, I add light into most interiors photos, but Davis takes a lot of pride in how they've lighted their space. It certainly gives me a chance to concentrate on the photography. 

Enjoy these images. 

Beautiful near west side Chicago apartment

In March, Tina and I photographed a beautiful near west side apartment for designers Steve + Filip, who are a married interior design dynamic duo based in Chicago. 

We admire and look up to Steve and Filip, because they, like us, work and live side by side, practically 24/7. We've been able to share experiences and stories that affect our worlds in similar ways. Between business ideas and personal, we find our similarities help us with a solid and strengthening bond. 

Steve usually photographs their spaces, which look amazing. Check their site above. But they've used us more and more on projects that might need our expertise on. One reason Steve + Filip chose to work with us is because views outside the windows and the desire to expose the photos with the gorgeous Chicago skyline visible. 

To achieve this, we do a variety of things, namely we try to even the light inside to what it is outside, which is very difficult to make look natural. We also shoot a variety of exposures that we blend together in post. Retouching these photos is incredibly intensive. But the results are worth it. 

We're incredibly proud of the work, and I wanted to publish a few of our favorite photos from the shoot below.


Corporate commercial portraits for ALIST Magazine

We photographed some corporate editorial portraits for a client to submit to ALIST Magazine, a magazine that focuses on Asian Americans.

We were limited to shooting in a conference room at the client's offices downtown Chicago. During our 2-hour shoot, we were able to setup and capture many images, but some standouts are below.

One key ingredient of the shoot was our flexibility. The client needed to keep working while we were shooting, so there were long portions of time in which he was on the phone or needed to leave the set all together.


Catching up on Wittefini vLogs

I've embarked on a vLog mission. I'm challenging myself to assemble at least one vLog per week featuring things we do, whether personal or professional. 

It's my attempt to capture our memories, ones that we'd lose to oblivion otherwise. We complete so many fun and exciting projects week to week, and I feel like I look back and the only things I have to remember them are a few photos or videos from the experience and an invoice. 

Time moves fast. This is my attempt to run after memories with a small butterfly net and see if I can capture one iota of what happens in our lives. 

I need to catch up on some of the vLogs that I didn't post here yet. They descend from oldest to the newest. 

Stand by as we figure this whole idea out and craft our distinct take on video blogging in this way. 


Team Wittefini takes SOFA

Tina and I concentrate our focus on the luxury interiors market. It's not always our goal to secure events, but we enjoy shooting events that fit within the framework of our spectrum. 

SOFA Chicago is one of those events. It's an art show featuring some of the best -- and most creative -- sculpture, glass, paintings, fiber, etc. 

Two years ago I attended the show for the first time, and Facebooked an update that read, "I'd like to photograph this. It's so inspiring." 

The very next year we got a call from the marketing team asking us to shoot it. On site, the team LOVED Tina -- they thought I was okay -- and asked us back before we left. 

So we came back this year. Knowing what to expect, we were sure to gather some video for ourselves. I threw together the below vLog for your viewing pleasure. 

Behind the Scenes vLog: Photographing Jamie Graham Fabrics

Jeremy here. 

Drop to the bottom of the post and press play if you would like to leap to the vLog. 

Otherwise, read on: 

I've been doing video professionally since 2003. 

After Tina joined my company back in 2008 or 2009, we video logged (or vLog'd) many of our work experiences. Back in 2011 or so, when we started sharing studio space with Bill Whitmire, I continued doing it as much as possible. 

For whatever reason – circa 2013 – I couldn't find time to vLog with our company's rebrand to Wittefini. Probably because we were concentrating a lot of effort on picking up new accounts with mainly interiors or portrait needs. 

Through some self reflection, some inspiration from other vLoggers, and a couple requests from colleagues, I've decided to start vLogging again.



Just because.

Because it's fun. 

Because experiences – once had – are gone. Gone forever. Vlogging is an incredible way to document memories, either professional or personal or both. 

Since Wittefini experiences are a merging of professional and personal, it makes sense to attempt to capture our story, if for no other reason but for ourselves. 

If you want to follow along, that's awesome. Please do. But it's not my motivation. I realize there is a level of conceit involved here. Narcissism even. Who cares about our lives? 

There's an undeniable level of pompous vulnerability to artistry, and -- good or bad -- art means putting yourself out there. 

This process will be to keep track of our lives, our progress, and quite frankly, our process of aging. How we looked 10 years ago, now and 10 years in the future will change over time. I, quite frankly, want to see it. 

I also want to do it to develop my story-telling ability. Via investments and declaration, we're amp'ing up our video game. For the past 5 years, we've concentrated on photography and it shows in our portfolio. My roots were in motion picture, and right now, our projects are 75% photography and 25% video. My goal is to create an equilibrium of equal parts photo and video. 

I also want to do it as a self-introspection. I get the idea that if I'm constantly trying to tell our story, it encourages a sort of honest reflection that may be lost to life's fast pace if not captured and retold in this way. 

Enjoy our first return to vLogging below. It's a behind the scenes video featuring a recent shoot for Jamie Graham Fabrics

I'm hoping to produce a vLog per week, if not more. We'll see how that goes. They will post here on our blog.


#Team #Wittefini 

Corporate Interiors: the Gloster showroom at The Mart

We recently photographed the Gloster showroom at the Mart downtown Chicago. 

Gloster is a luxury outdoor furniture manufacturer based in Virginia. They feature clean, modern lines and it's some of our favorite Casual furniture that we've ever seen. Their brand could appeal to an interior at times. 

The goal of the photos was to show the showroom and how its designed, so that they can share those images with retailers who will design their floor sets to look similar in their stores. 

The process used to photograph these spaces is quite epic, and these images are the result of blending 30 to 40 images together. I promise to create a behind the scenes some time soon on how we approach our interior images. 

We also took a little extra time to photograph their award-winning furniture with their awards. 

Likely the most luxurious dining room we've ever seen

We recently worked with one of our favorite Interior Designers, Joey Leicht, to photograph a dining room in an on-going project he's working on in Winnetka. 

We're in love with this home. It's situated right on Lake Michigan, and it's a home that if I had an unlimited home budget, I'd be tempted to buy this one off the current owners. 

This dining room is simply epic. When Joey was designing the custom table, he wanted something inspired by fashion designer Tom Ford. He loves how it appears black from certain angles and blue from others. 

The large cabinet is custom from Ebanista. Tina and I were recently in The Mart's Ebanista showroom, and you'd be stunned to see what the base model looks like. It's about 1/16th the size of the one in this room. The glass is clear. Joey clearly has a defined vision when he approaches each element of his room designs. 

From the walls and sconces to the chandeliers, ceilings and chairs, this room is meant to impress.

And it does. 

Enjoy these images from our shoot. 

Commercial promotional photography for McCormick Place

Two weeks ago, we were hired to photograph the rooftop gardens at McCormick Place. 

The folks at McCormick teamed up with the people over at Chicago Botanical Garden to plan the Midwest's largest farm-to-fork rooftop garden. According to their website they yield over 8,000 lbs of farm fresh plenty including bets, kale, carrots, lettuce, peppers, beans, and herbs. 

While we were there, we saw lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, eggplant, basil, rosemary, mint, Anaheim peppers, and bee hives. The bee hives are incredibly fun to experience and photograph. 

Enjoy some highlights from our shoot below.