Philadelphia Magazine: Amazing Spaces

chris crisman philadelphia magazine cover amazing spaces

When we were approached by the team at Philadelphia Magazine to create and shoot the cover for their design issue, we knew there was a great opportunity on the table. The editors wanted to create a cover that distilled down the idea of interior design to it’s basics and capture the essence of a clean, beautiful interior space.

We’ve been building quite a few sets lately so our first call was to our talented set builder and prop stylist mastermind, Matthew Englebert. What started as nothing more than a few inspirational pieces of swipe and a long brainstorming session over the phone resulted in an amazing set build and a day full of doing what we do best – making beautiful pictures. As always, we have a ton more to share. Keep reading for more…

chris crisman philadelphia magazine cover amazing spaces

As our ideas for the shoot evolved, our set kept growing – getting to the point where we needed to take it out of our studio and into a larger build space to make it happen. Measuring in at over 16×12′ wide, our build came together in just under a week thanks to the crew we assembled.

chris crisman philadelphia magazine cover amazing spaces

As for lighting, we had a unique challenge of working with a single color palette: white. We needed to keep the entire space evenly exposed, yet shape the light in a practical way that read like a natural home scene – and of course keep beautiful and interesting light on our captivating model.

How’d we do it? The combination of the extra big 7′ octabank as a base of light with smaller octas and soft-boxes highlighting specific parts of the room and our model was the answer.

chris crisman philadelphia magazine cover amazing spaces

I just have to note the expert fan skills in the shot above. Thanks Matthew!

chris crisman philadelphia magazine cover amazing spaces

Chris and design director Michael Wilson were collaborating all day long – we may have nailed the cover in the morning, but everyone wanted to keep shooting all day so that’s exactly what we did, trying different posing and wardrobe options in the space.


Here’s another take that we loved so much we just had to send it through retouching. Our set was built to accommodate the cover, but it doesn’t make a bad horizontal frame either!


And of course, when you have a room built dedicated just to taking photos, everyone needs to jump in for a frame or two – or in my case, someone needs to make sure the carpet was properly taken care of.

All jokes aside, for a big project like this, we need to give a huge thank you to everyone involved: the great team of Michael Wilson and Jessica Webster at Philadelphia Magazine, our set builder Matthew Englebert, wardrobe stylist Arwen Spargo, her assistant Amber Lynn Thompson, and last but not least, hair & makeup artist Kristi Wilczpolski. Thanks for making this awesome everyone!

Questions, comments? Let us know your thoughts below or @crismanphoto and /crismanphoto!

2 replies to “Philadelphia Magazine: Amazing Spaces”

  1. hi,
    i like every post you put so this one isn’t different.
    what i do wanted to point your attention to is that i don’t know if you know but already while getting the email about the new post, the line: “Keep reading for more…” is invalid as the whole post is visible already in mail.
    kind of beats the purpose of pressing the “Keep reading for more…” and seeing the same thing but on your blog. definitely lowers the blogs visit numbers.


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