Test Kitchen

real estate photography Portland Oregon

Photo I settled on. A bit of a vignette, creating a focal point on the table and adding a cozy mood.

This photo created a little bit of discussion with Adam, a buddy and good photographer in his own right.

He thought I should add more exposure to the periphery and the countertops. To him, this was just too much tunnel vision. I replied that is what I was going for. I wanted to create a focal point, and lighting the whole scene would distract the viewer from the windows and table.

I thought the counters and fridge were implied, and that they were already well showcased in other photos from the set.

Here is the same photo with exposure added to the counters…


real estate photography Portland Oregon

In my opinion, the focal point gets lost if the counters have more exposure.

It looks a bit brighter overall. Available overhead light did not add much, and it was an overcast day (I prefer natural light for interiors). So more light is indeed pleasing, at first. But my eyes get lost in it, and the picture is now perhaps redundant.

In the first picture, my eyes go directly to the table and windows. In the second, I eventually get there but only after darting around.

Neither photo is right or wrong. Your eyes might go directly to the table on the second picture. You might be expecting something very different for the first.

It very often just comes down to personal preference and intuition, or what the client is asking for. If you can live with it and the client is happy (she is), that’s the most important thing.

What do you think?

Portland’s Mardi Gras Parade

To say the Portland’s Mardi Gras Parade was a colorful and jubilant affair last night, would be an understatement. The fashion and people cutting loose to the brass bands was thrilling to see, and experience. It’s always fun when pedestrians and culture reclaim a street in a good way. Next year I will probably leave the camera at home, and join in the festivities.

Parade Gallery

Today is Fat Tuesday

So I’m looking back on my visit to New Orleans last May. I think these iPhone camera snap shots capture best, at that time, what I imagine is happening there now. Just sans the Mardi Gras beads and Chief costumes, the massive revelry, and… a lot of laissez-faire.

It’s also getting me into the mood to photograph a Mardi Gras parade here this evening.

MLK Day March

Photo of Alfonso López-Vasquez prior to the 2015 MLK Day march in Forest Grove OR by Paul Ottaviano

Alfonso López-Vasquez, Associate Professor and Director of Diversity at Pacific University, speaks to the group prior to the march. Forest Grove, OR. 

Monday I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in and photograph a march, in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.,  through the town of Forest Grove, OR. The group of people in attendance were spirited and good-natured. All exhibited genuine appreciation towards what was a diverse crowd of about 100. For a small town, this was a good number, particularly since this was their first MLK Day march in many years. And, as is often the case, it’s not just the number of people but the quality of person that counts.

Here are some of my favorite MLK Day photos.

Real Estate Photography


Two weeks ago I had the privilege to be on a real estate photography assignment on Center Island, located in the San Juan Islands. Exterior and interior shots were captured, both during the day and night. The goal was to cover everything around the entire lot and home, and there was plenty of good stuff to photograph. There was a private dock, and public dock, a nice deck with a view – and spa! – a high ceiling A-frame living room with stained glass on top. One of my favorites is a jewel of a view from the loft (see above).

For good measure I included lifestyle shots of island culture, since that is part of what a new home buyer will be attracted to. Such slice-of-life scenes as people commuting by boat, going out into the bay with crab cages, and kayaks were all well documented.

As for the home interiors and exteriors, I mostly relied on my Sony a7 full frame camera and a Zeiss 35mm lens. Everything shot used window light, and standard home lights when necessary, to give the interiors a natural look. My tripod and remote shutter were put to good use as well. A lot of work was put in before the photo to make sure the scene was clean, tidy, and without a lot of busy or unnecessary distractions. Also, I wanted to make sure the photos weren’t “dated” in that they could be used for awhile, should it be necessary, because selling a location like this is perhaps a longer sales cycle than normal.

The whole project was worthwhile, of course, and something I’m very proud of. I look forward to seeing the photos on the real estate network and how it helps the realtor and seller. It was a photography paradise.