Thursday, August 18, 2016

San Francisco Commercial Photographer Brad Knipstein Let's Us Tag Along

This week we are behind the scenes with our talented artists at Sally Bjornsen Represents!
Who better to give us a rundown of a day-in-the-life than one of San Francisco’s leading commercial photographers, Brad Knipstein. Brad’s known for his captivating interior photography, making him a go-to for legacy brands like Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn, and the darling of many boutique architecture and interior design firms. He brings the perfect combination of artistry and technique to every project. Plus, he’s got mad computer skills. How does he do it? We followed him around for a day to find out.
Brad Knipstein Photography

7:00 AM I start the day off with my favorite morning drink, Levity Brew, a blend of coffee, tea and herbs. For years, I had been trying to quit coffee. I actually did the photography for Levity Brew in San Francisco, and in the process, fell in love with their product. 

8:00 AM Time to pack up. Usually the night before, I reflect on the goal of the shoot and decide which equipment I need depending on the scale of the project and location. I’m a stickler for having all the right tools in my toolbox so on set, I’m free to work in the moment.

9:00 AM When I arrive, I walk through the location and determine the order of shots for the day. Of course, light, product and client needs all factor into this equation. I’ll usually take a moment to catch up with the stylists and designers about props and lighting. Once the order is established, I immediately begin work on the composition for the first shots.

Noon Lunch brings everyone together and gives us a chance to discuss life outside of the photo shoot. Mentally, it’s a reprieve from the intense focus of the work and gives us a chance to recharge creatively.  

1:00 PM The afternoon is spent re-assessing which shots we need to complete before the end of the day. If we are running ahead of schedule, it gives us time to add shots.

8:00 PM After the shoot, I’m careful to always back up the files in at least two different places, then I can start the editing process. Most images need retouching, and I like to take an uninterrupted day or two to complete that process. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to bring the space to life in Photoshop. I’m always excited to show the finished images to the team so I can get feedback and share the sense of accomplishment.
 Brad Knipstein Photography

9:00 PM When I have time, I like to catch up with friends. We might grab oysters at the Waterbar near the Bay Bridge or drink a stout or porter at Magnolia Pub & Brewery closer to home. I easily find inspiration walking the Land's End Trail with views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. On a quiet night, you’ll find me reading. I just started The Season of the Witch by David Talbot. The San Francisco focus is really fun.

Visit to see Brad's portfolio.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It’s His World and We’re Living in It — Q Caylor Waxes Eloquent on Art Direction

As an extension of still photography, video projects often come with bigger payoffs — increased customer engagement, an amplified aesthetic and elevated brand presence. But with that comes an increased complexity from an art direction point of view. This week, we had the chance to catch up with seasoned Art Director, Q Caylor, who recently finished five Pottery Barn videos based on their upcoming fall book.

It’s easy to see why Q’s an asset to any team. He projects an obvious ease and confidence in directing a large team and project with many moving parts. Couple this with his kind and unassuming manner, it’s easy to see why his skills are sought after by huge brands like Pottery Barn and Target. Here he shares some of his observations on art direction:  

Tell me about the Pottery Barn video project.
This was a cool opportunity and challenge to leverage still work that the team had done and take it further with video. Using stills from Pottery Barn’s Fall Book, our goal was to put the videos together in an engaging way, generally lifting the aesthetic and brand presence.

What are the advantages of one over the other?
It’s a lot easier to retouch a still shot. For video, product samples have to be as accurate and in as good of condition as possible. And, like the move from film photography to digital, there's suddenly so much more you want to try while you're shooting. It takes forever to prep — in this case, we saved at least half a day on location by piggybacking on the styling done the day before for the fall book.

How does your work in stills and video influence one another?
Like interactive design, its the same principals; they just happen over time.

How would you describe your own personal style or the assets that make you a good art director?
The art directors who get the best work out of a shoot are the ones who will not compromise on getting the best shot possible. The art directors who you want to work with are the ones who make everybody involved feel like their contributions are vital to the best outcome and are actually pleasant to be around. 

What’s your approach to creating the perfect ambiance?
On set?? Nothing beats a great soundtrack!

What was the inspiration for these Pottery Barn digital media shorts and how do they support the brand’s aesthetic?
The main request for all of these spots was to capitalize on and incorporate as much of the great still photography that was done for the fall book. Taking those elements as a starting point, it was all about building on the season's focus by incorporating an editorial flow, motion typography and music. 

How do you creatively manage the shoot? Collaborate with the stylists and videographer?
I work closely with the producer to put a great team together and with the client to create storyboards that clearly lay out the vision for the spot. The storyboard becomes our "Truth" document that the entire crew works from to get every shot we need.
What direction do you see digital media taking for a brand like Pottery Barn?
It’s the world we're all living in. Even for a legacy brand like Pottery Barn, the core customer may not be at the leading edge of technology, but they're getting closer to it every day. And any new customers are going to likely be found in a digital space. 

Visit or to see all of Q’s work. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

New Website for

We just relaunched the website.  It's easier to navigate and to search for photographers, stylists and creative directors on the Sally Bjornsen Represents roster. You can easily search by artist or by category. Go now to ad check it out for yourself. For questions or inquiries contact 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Make Everyday a Spa Day with Stylist Allie Hsiao

 Allegra Hsiao Photo Stylist
It’s summertime and while some of us are happily headed off for a relaxing vacation at a five-star resort, the rest of us continue to look for ways to manage the stress of our daily routines. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands and up the relaxation factor here at home. For inspiration, we turned to San Francisco soft goods and prop stylist Allegra Hsiao aka Allie. As a professional photo stylist, Allie is in the business of creating a variety of Zen-like spaces such as those featured in Dwell Magazine and for clients like West Elm and Pottery Barn.
Allegra Hsiao Photo Stylist

While the job of a stylist may sound glamorous, one of its challenges is managing props for various photo shoots. A self-admitted spa junkie, Allie recently took it upon herself to improve her life by incorporating more of a spa-vibe at home. “As a stylist, I realize how important personal spaces are to each individual. The past few months, I've been trying to bring that level of ‘serenity’ into my own personal spaces – to make them places that are a reflection of me and how I want to live.” 

Allie assures us her styling tricks are neither time consuming nor expensive. She believes that we too can turn our personal spaces into sanctuaries. Here are a few of her ‘little life hacks’ for serenity:

Leave a few bars of scented soap that come wrapped in paper in your car. (She uses Ebb & Flow.) Every time you go for a drive, your car will smell amazing. Next, invest in an aromatherapy diffuser to make your home smell like a spa. Allie recommends the SpaRoom Glass Ultrasonic Marblemist Diffusing Mister. Plus, it lasts through your entire sleep cycle.

 Allegra Hsiao Photo StylistListen
Trick your conscious brain into letting go of the stress of the outside world by listening to sleep sounds like rain, Tibetan bowls and chimes or even crickets.

Rethink your relationship to your belongings. Allie took a cue from Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Even something as simple as refolding clothes the "Marie Kondo" way can make your clothes feel like special little packages.

Travel Smart
Stay organized by carrying a little zippered pouch with a hook. You can find one on Sierra Trading Post for under $10. This little bag will be your best friend on a flight. Instead of trying to squish all of your things into the tiny seat-back pocket, simply take the pre-packed pouch and hook it onto the edge of the seat-back pocket. Easy.

It’s that simple. When you smile, your body releases endorphins and serotonin, easing pain and acting as an anti-depressant. In turn, make someone else smile everyday. If you think something nice about someone, say it to them. Why keep it to yourself!  Studies show the act of giving is an incredible source of inner happiness.

To learn more about Allie and her inspirational styling tricks, visit or Be well.