My Story – How I Got Started In Design & Architectural Photography

You can say it was in the cards for me to become a photographer. After all, my father was a professional photographer and I have been around it since I was born.

Brian Berkowitz - Long Island based Design & Interior Photographer

Brian Berkowitz – Long Island based Design & Interior Photographer

My father has been a wedding photographer since the mid-70’s so growing up, there were always cameras around the house. To tell you the truth, I cant remember if I used to walk around with his cameras in hand, but I do know that when I was a teenager and my father started bringing me on shoots with him to assist. I loved it!

After high school and spending a semester at Queens College, a local city school, I decided to transfer to School of Visual Arts. I felt that I wasn’t getting the type of education I was looking for at Queens College. I needed something a little more stimulating which would allow me to explore my creativity in different mediums. I studied photography and film editing at SVA all while working part time at a wedding studio based, at the time, in Queens. This wedding studio, the Jerry Meyer Studio, was coincidentally (or not) the same studio my father got started in the wedding industry with. By this point the studio was in it’s second generation and I was working closely with the production department as they converted the entire studio to a digital workflow. At the time, (circa 2002-2003) they were just starting to bring digital retouching into the studio and I helped setup a workflow and file management system for their new digital assets.

In 2005 I graduated college and was lucky enough to land a new job at a digital production studio in Manhattan called Reproductions, as their first digital retoucher. They were also, at the time, just beginning to convert everything from the analog film days to digital and I help set up their digital workflow. I spent my days there retouching image after image (mostly headshots) and finished each day retouching over 25 different shots. It was a great job, although a little monotonous at times, but it really allowed me to become extremely proficient in digital retouching and Photoshop.

Then the recessions hit and I was one of the casualties on that early December morning when 6 people from the company all got laid off on the same day. (2 months after I got married and 3 weeks before spine surgery). While the next few months were a struggle I viewed it as an opportunity to try and explore going into shooting photography full time. I teamed up with a friend of mine who did video production and using some of my old wedding industry contacts, we started a wedding video business, which eventually, a few years later, also turned into a commercial video production business. (though we do not take on many projects, that business is still in existence today: Expressions Cinema). Our first year we booked roughly 80 weddings, and while we were making good money, it was A LOT of work.

One of my first ever interior images. 🤦‍♂️

One of my first ever interior images. 🤦‍♂️

A couple of years into this business, roughly around mid-2013, Jason Meyer, owner at the time of Jerry Meyer Studio who I started my professional career with, called me about a commercial project. Someone he knew who was interior design needed some shots and Jason, being a wedding photographer, felt it was out of his comfort zone. I told him I’ll give it a go. I spent the next few days reading and watching as much information as I could about shooting interiors. While there was a lot of information at the time, it isn’t as robust as it is now. I decided HDR was the way to go (I cringe every time I look at those shots), as it would give me the best and quickest results with the lack of experience I had. While the images didn’t come out that great, it opened me up to a whole new world of interior photography I knew nothing about. I started researching and learning, joining Facebook groups, watching YouTube videos by my now business partner Rich Baum. The easiest transition to shooting interiors was real estate photography. I decided to give it a go and at the end of 2015, early 2016, decided to go all in with real estate photography.

Business picked up very quickly and I spent the next 1.5-2 years shooting dozens of properties every month. The goal was to learn as much as I can, and use these real estate listings as an avenue to practice new technique and refine my skill. It was towards the end of 2018 when I decided I wanted to expand beyond just real estate and start shooting consistently for interior designers, architects and commercial retail. I have done projects occasionally as they came in but wanted to make 2019 a major transition year.

Now, as 2019 winds down (November 2019 at the time of this writing) I am happy to say that I am very happy with where this transition has taken me. There has been a significantly lack of quality interior design and architectural photographers on Long Island. Growing up here, I know the area and felt that this was the demographic I needed to serve. I needed to give designers, architects and business owners and better quality alternative then what was available. I have been shooting consistently for designers and commercials spaces and now only shoot roughly 3-5 real estate properties per month. I still love the real estate work, as it allows me to practice and try new techniques while still being able to deliver “magazine quality” real estate work. It also helps remind me where I got my start and helps me stay humble. My goal for 2020? Keep moving along with the transition. I think I will always shoot real estate listings. It gives me a chance to reflect back and remember how I grew to the photographer I became. I also love some of my clients and can’t turn down a project when they call!

I know it’s hard to consolidate 20 professional years into a few paragraphs, but I felt it was important to me to be able to tell me story and allow my current clients and future clients to get a little insight as to where I came from and was able to grow to the place I am now. Hopefully you’re all along with me for the next chapter as I strive to be the best interior photographer on Long Island!

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