Home and Design Magazine: Living on High

 

Living on high

The Lauren in Bethesda brings elegant design to a prime location

By Julie Sanders

A recent addition to Bethesda’s ever-growing array of high-end condominiums, The Lauren is ideally situated on the (relatively) quiet corner of two one-way streets near Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues—home to Bethesda Row’s abundance of shops and restaurants.

This spot was exactly what developer 1788 Holdings was looking for when the company decided to build in Bethesda. “We wanted the property to raise the standard for high-end condos in the DC area,” says principal Larry Goodwin. The Lauren, he says, “is a cut above what is typical for DC’s high-end condominium market.”

Miami-based Robert M. Swedroe Architects & Planners designed the two-tone granite building, which was built by Davis Construction. Alexandria-based interiors firm Akseizer Design Group was responsible for all the public spaces as well as one of the models.

In keeping with the developer’s vision for the property, the design team selected luxurious materials and finishes throughout. “We mixed modern materials with organic textures for timeless appeal,” explains principal Jeff Akseizer. The two-story lobby is clad in limestone with ebony macassar panels and illuminated by a custom chandelier with 300 hand-blown glass tubes. The wine lounge/screening room, with walnut panels and onyx accents, features individual wine lockers, custom furniture and a large, flat-screen TV. The expansive roof deck offers “amenity zones” delineated by stone pavers and îpe flooring, with seating areas furnished by JANUS et Cie and Dedon.

The fitness lounge is a cardio-intensive space “designed to dress up fitness to a luxury level,“ says Akseizer. Anti-microbial carpet tiles and a walnut accent wall impart a high-end feel, while personalized cubbies, towels and water are available.

The Lauren offers one-, two- and three-bedroom units starting at 1,440 square feet for a one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath residence with a den and a private terrace. The top three floors house penthouse units, with the seventh-floor penthouse spanning 5,750 square feet with a 1,600-square-foot terrace.

Akseizer and his team created a transitional look for the model, which encompasses two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and a den. It features an open-plan living/dining area and an adjoining kitchen with an island. Wide-plank walnut floors unify the rooms and a vented gas fireplace creates a focal point in the living area. In the kitchen, custom cabinetry is paired with Calacatta Gold marble countertops and backsplash, while appliances by Sub-Zero/Wolf are concealed behind panels. Calacatta Gold marble also clads the spa-like master bath, complementing a white custom vanity; alternatively, some units offer baths with dark-stained cabinetry and limestone. All bath fixtures are from Waterworks.

Other features in the units include floor-to-ceiling windows, home-automation systems and automated shades. Some residences boast direct-access elevators. Twenty-four-hour concierge, valet parking, guest suites and a porter service are among the perks available to residents.

FACTS & STATS

The Lauren encompasses 29 units on seven floors. Floors five, six and seven house penthouse units with large private terraces. At press time, 14 of the building’s units had been sold. Prices begin at $1.475 million for a one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath unit with a den and a terrace. The furnished model is available for $2.55 million and the top-floor penthouse is priced at $10 million.

1788 Holdings also developed The Estate Condominums at Quarry Springs, which is located on the border of Bethesda and Potomac.

INQUIRIES: The Lauren, 4901 Hampden Lane, Bethesda,
Maryland 20814 • 301-273-1164 • 

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Washington Post: Yacht River Cruiser

Looking for something different? Yacht river cruiser docked at National Harbor lists for $488,800.

By Michele Lerner

A 65-foot Legacy yacht river cruiser, dubbed Freedom II and based at National Harbor, is listing for $488,800. (Studio Trejo)

A 65-foot Legacy yacht river cruiser, dubbed Freedom II and based at National Harbor, is listing for $488,800. (Studio Trejo)

Now that the MGM hotel and casino has opened at National Harbor, the location has gained renewed attention as a destination for visitors and as a place to live.

According to Redfin, there are just four units available in National Harbor, including three one-bedroom units priced from $329,900 to $354,000 with condo fees of $330 to $380 a month and a waterfront, three-bedroom unit priced at $2.693 million with a monthly condo fee of $2,280.

If you’re in the mood for something a little out of the ordinary but love the vibe at National Harbor, you might want to mull over buying a boat docked at the harbor. Priced at $488,800, the fully furnished 65-foot Legacy yacht river cruiser, dubbed Freedom II, is designed for year-round livability. The yacht has 1,000 square feet of indoor living space and 1,000 square feet of outdoor space for entertaining up to 40 friends.

The yacht has an open floor plan, a living and dining area with a fireplace, and a kitchen with custom-designed maple cabinets, granite counters, full-size stainless-steel appliances, a walk-in pantry and ceramic-tile flooring.

In addition, the boat has a fireplace, central heat and air conditioning, a built-in flat-panel TV, a washer-dryer, two bedrooms, extra sleeping quarters, a security system, storage, one full bathroom, and two half bathrooms.

While there are no property taxes or condo fees, there are slip fees paid annually — currently $11,100, or the equivalent of $925 a month. The slip fees cover water, trash removal, cable, dock security and two parking garage spaces, as well as discounts to restaurants, shops, events and hotels at National Harbor. The slip fees have been paid through March.

For more information, visit ownfreedom2.com or contact boat owner Mike Conners at Buyfreedom2@gmail.com.

 

Northern Virginia Magazine: Portside Coffee & Bakery to debut next year in Leesburg

....When her husband, David Kamminga, a commercial real estate agent, found space for sale in the new Crescent Place development in Leesburg, they decided to buy it and open a coffee shop and bakery....

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Regalmark Ranked Top 6 In DC

Regalmark is excited to see our space featured with Agent.Media as one of the top 6 inspiring workplaces in Washington, D.C.!

Showcasing our innovation in design and construction management, this space is built entirely out of modular components. True ABW (Activities Based Work) is embraced allowing 8-10 employee’s work from this deliberately compact space. Visitors are welcome to enjoy some wine or beer while they discover the new concepts shown in this space. Check out some photos!

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National Harbor: Harborside Hotel

Harborside Hotel

Sleep, shop and explore just beyond the heart of the Nation’s Capital. Since our unveiling, Harborside Hotel of National Harbor has elevated lifestyle living for corporate travelers and vacationers alike. Its 194 spacious, boutique-style rooms and suites blend contemporary style with urban-inspired appointments. Enjoy complimentary shuttle service to the nearby MGM or Tanger Outlets. Wake each morning to a complimentary, hot American breakfast, or try the delectable international, locally-sourced cuisine at our acclaimed restaurant. From elegant meeting and wedding space to a highly sought-after setting near the area’s most popular landmarks, Harborside Hotel is the ideal choice for savvy travelers.

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Office Snaps: Regalmark

Regalmark Offices – Washington D.C.

FIRM

Commercial design/build firm Regalmark has just completed the build-out of its very own design studio in Washington DC.

Showcasing their innovation in design and construction management, this space is built entirely out of modular components. True ABW (Activities Based Work) is embraced allowing 8-10 employee’s work from this deliberately compact space. Visitors are welcome to enjoy some wine or beer while they discover the new concepts shown in this space.

DesignRegalmark
Photography: STUDIO TREJO Photography: Alex Trejo

Washington Post: Townhouses in Leesburg...

TOWNHOUSES IN LEESBURG AND BRISTOW ARE FILLED WITH FEATURES THAT WILL ‘WOW’ YOU

The Washington Post

By Katherine Salant April 7

The living room features a dramatic stone fireplace. (Courtesy of Studio Trejo)

The living room features a dramatic stone fireplace. (Courtesy of Studio Trejo)

Over the past 20 years, the new-home market in the Washington area has undergone a dramatic transformation, and nowhere are the changes more apparent than in new townhouses.

In the mid-1990s, most were modestly sized and purchased by first-time buyers. Today, townhouses come in all sizes, and every segment of the market is buying them. Even more surprising is the crossover appeal. All segments of the market — including first-time buyers, first- and second-time move-up buyers, and move-down empty-nester buyers are purchasing the same houses, which makes for more diverse neighborhoods with younger and older buyers living side by side.

Two good examples of the crossover phenomenon are the Knutson Cos.’ Rockland at its Crescent Place development in Leesburg, designed by Bill Foliaco of Lessard Design in Vienna, and Miller & Smith’s Verde in the Meridian Collection subdivision of the firm’s Victory Lakes development in the Bristow area of Prince William County, designed by Smita Anand of KTGY in Vienna. More important to prospective buyers, each offers a checklist of what to look for when considering a townhouse purchase in the current market.

First, don’t be guided by size and price alone. By these criteria, these two townhouses could not be more different. Knutson’s four-story Rockland has 2,853 square feet of finished space and range from $449,990 to $565,990, while Miller & Smith’s three-story Verde has three-quarters as much finished space and the base price is $169,000 lower.

But when you see the houses, their surprising similarities are what you’ll notice first.

The first “wow” moment will occur at the same point in both houses — as you ascend the stairs and turn the corner into the main living area on the second floor. It is completely open from one end to the other with a stunning island kitchen in the center and dining and sitting areas at each end. Because both houses have almost the same size footprint (Knutson’s is 20 by 42 feet; Miller and Smith’s is 20 by 43 feet, 8 inches), the size of each individual area on this floor is almost the same.

This spatial configuration with the central island kitchen has become a hallmark of current townhouse design in the Washington market, but it is rarely done as well as it is here. In both cases, much of the impact is in the cumulative effect of the details:

●The kitchen island in each house is big enough — 4 by 12 feet in Knutson’s; 3.5 by 11 feet in Miller and Smith’s — to be a visual anchor for the very large space but not so big that an observer might say “it looks like a parked car,” as New York architect Barry Goralnick wryly described kitchen islands that have become ridiculously big.

The length and width that gives these islands a visual heft that others have likened to a “sculptured piece of furniture” is also practical. The island counters are big enough for breakfast and informal family meals, and the base cabinets incorporated at each end of each island make up for the storage capacity lost when builders excised the kitchen walls to make the floor completely open.

The central kitchen location that works so well architecturally can also enhance the quality of family life, said Dan Fulton, a Washington-area housing market analyst. “With the kitchen in the middle of the floor, you’re only 10 feet away from household members in either end — close enough for a pretty good conversation.”

The kitchen island is a spacious 4 by 12 feet. (Courtesy of Studio Trejo)

The kitchen island is a spacious 4 by 12 feet. (Courtesy of Studio Trejo)

 

●The window and door openings in both houses are unusually large, which increases the amount of natural light and the perception of spaciousness. The light level in the models, both end units, is further enhanced by side windows.

●The question of where to place the powder room is neatly solved. When builders removed all the walls on the main level to make the space more open, this became an issue, said Dale Hall, Miller & Smith’s vice president of operations. Everyone wants the convenience of a half-bath on the main floor, but no one wants a powder room that opens onto a living area — especially the kitchen — and these preferences make a design solution challenging.

Foliaco’s design for Knutson tucks the powder room discretely into a corner, with the door facing a stair landing; Anand’s design for Miller & Smith takes discretion one step further: She created a small, private hallway off the stair landing from which both the powder room and a small closet can be accessed. Not only does this provide more privacy, the closet will be a handy place to store table leaves and the special-occasion dishes and table linens many households use for holidays and family celebrations.

●The stairs do not occupy a lot of space. In both houses, the staircases hug the sidewall opposite the central island kitchen. The stairs do not protrude into the living and dining areas, which can eat up useful floor area.

The main living level will resonate with different buyers for different reasons. Older, empty nesters moving from a large house with large rooms will like the “big house feel” of such a large, open space. Millennial buyers (generally considered to be age 35 or younger) who grew up in single-family houses with an eat-in kitchen family room will sense a larger version of the familiar. Buyers coming from smaller houses or apartments will feel liberated by the sheer size of this 800-square-foot area.

The master bedroom is larger than those found in most single-family houses. (Courtesy of Studio Trejo)

The master bedroom is larger than those found in most single-family houses. (Courtesy of Studio Trejo)

But furnishing the large main living level may prove to be more challenging than most buyers realize. On the one hand, the large, completely open floor offers an unusual degree of flexibility in how you decide to use the space. On the other, both family room areas, which run the full 19-foot interior width of the floor, and the dining areas are unusually large and tricky to furnish. To make them look and feel comfortable, both furnished models have oversize furniture.

Ceiling treatments can give an individual living area below more definition and make it feel more cozy, but the treatments must be subtle and shallow. If a dropped beam or bulkhead is more than six inches deep, most people will perceive the space below to be too small, not more comfortable, said Jack McLaurin, a local architect considered to be the “dean of townhouse design” by Washington-area home builders for the hundreds that he and his team at Lessard Design in Vienna designed over more than 20 years. McLaurin now heads planning and design for EYA, a Bethesda-based home-building firm.

The beamed-ceiling treatment in the family room area of Knutson’s Rockland not only gives the space some visual definition but also adds historical cachet. This type of exposed wood beam is often found in the old farmhouses that still dot the working farms in the Leesburg area, said Rebecca Taylor of Taylor Interior Design in Reston, who designed the interiors. A further connection to Leesburg’s past, the fir and poplar used to make the beams was salvaged from an old barn in nearby Berryville.

Your second wow moment will be the master suites on the third floor. In both houses, the master bedroom is larger than those found in most single-family houses. The one in the Rockland runs the full width of the house and is almost as big as the family room below. Both bedrooms feature optional bay windows; the one in the Verde is outfitted as a window seat and is long enough for two adults to stretch out at each end. For households with children or grandchildren, this will likely become a favored spot for playing games or doing homework, and dogs will find that it’s a great perch for napping.

The 10- by 19-foot roof deck is no mere balcony: It’s big enough to qualify as an outdoor room. (Courtesy of Studio Trejo)

The 10- by 19-foot roof deck is no mere balcony: It’s big enough to qualify as an outdoor room. (Courtesy of Studio Trejo)

Both master bathrooms have upscale details, including a separate toilet area and a large shower with a seat. There are also generously sized walk-in closets.

A major difference between the two houses is the size and location of the secondary bedrooms. In Miller & Smith’s Verde, they’re smaller and down the hall from the master suite on the third level, an arrangement that is vastly preferred by families with young children and some older buyers who don’t want an extra flight of stairs, Hall said.

The secondary bedrooms in the Rockland are larger, each has its own bathroom and they are on separate floors. One is down the hall from the master suite, and the other is up a flight of stairs on the fourth level (the bathroom is optional). Both builders offer an optional fourth bedroom that is nearly identical in size plus an optional full bath on the ground floor (the base price for both houses includes a ground-floor finished rec room/study that can be upgraded to a bedroom).

Only the Rockland will elicit a third wow moment. This will happen as you reach the large fourth floor’s rec room (it’s also nearly as big as the family room on the second floor) and step out onto the adjacent roof terrace. This 10- by 19-foot outdoor area is no mere balcony: It’s big enough to qualify as an outdoor room.

Characterized by many in the home-building business as a “yard in the sky” and “a private rooftop refuge,” the roof terrace has proved to be enormously popular with buyers, Fulton said, adding that from a historical perspective, the bigger change in townhouse living in the Washington area is not the terrace but the addition of a fourth level.

Before the housing market collapsed in 2007, it was unusual. But as the market started to come back, it has become one of the major identifiers of this era of homebuilding, he said.

Miller & Smith offers a similarly sized 10- by 18-foot outdoor living area, but it is a deck off the family room space on the second level. There is also a small 20- by 20-foot back yard off the rear of the ground floor.

 

Katherine Salant has an architecture degree from Harvard University. A native Washingtonian, she grew up in Fairfax County and now lives in Ann Arbor, Mich. If you have questions or would like to suggest topics for coverage, contact her at salanthousewatch@gmail.com or www.katherinesalant.com .

 

Knutson at Crescent Place

235 Crescent Station Terrace SE, Leesburg, Va.

Four-level townhouses with two models, Rockland and Fleetwood, are priced from $449,990 to $565,990. The builder is offering incentives toward closing costs if the buyer goes through a preferred lender and title company.

Builder: Knutson Cos. 

Features: Exterior fronts, corners and stoop are red brick; rears are covered in James Hardie siding. The gas furnace operates at 92 percent efficiency, and exterior walls are built with 2-inch-by 6-inch lumber. All ceilings are nine feet; hardwood flooring covers the foyer, powder room and kitchen; and a three-color paint scheme runs throughout the home.

Bedrooms/bathrooms: 3/3

Square footage: 2,089 to 2,853

Homeowners association fee: $54 per month

View model: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 1 to 6 p.m. Monday; noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.

Sales: Deborah Condrey, 703-570-6550 or www.crescentplaceleesburg.com .

Alex & Lila Trejo: July’s Sigma SuperFans

By Sigma

July’s Sigma SuperFan is actually a couple! Alex and Lila Trejo of Northern Virginia, outside of DC, work together as photographers in their studio; as well as being husband and wife! We were struck by their shared passion for photography, and their love for Sigma lenses. Here’s the details from our great chat with our July #SigmaSuperFan!

Alex and Lila Trejo are our SigmaSuperFans for July!

Alex and Lila Trejo are our SigmaSuperFans for July!

Alex and Lila Trejo are a husband and wife team who support each other’s art photography and shoot weddings as Studio Trejo. After working together in a gallery and studio space in Philadelphia, they now live and work in the Washington DC area, in Northern Virginia.

Lila is a native of Washington, DC, whose dad used one of the bathrooms in their home as a darkroom while she was still a baby. “I don’t remember particularly formal training as a kid, but my dad would let me take pictures and teach me where to brace my arms and when to breath in and out so as to be as still a possible clicking the shutter. Seems not as critical these days with super fast lenses and digital equipment, I still do it without even thinking about it.”

Photo © Lila Trejo with the Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM. 1/100 F/10 ISO 800.

Photo © Lila Trejo with the Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM. 1/100 F/10 ISO 800.

Whenever she wasn’t at her office job (though often her design and photography skills came into use there somehow), Lila photographed candid moments of friends and family—informal portraits capturing a subject’s inner personality. After growing up in Northern Virginia, she moved to New York City where she discovered an interest in and studied jewelry design, selling her work in local boutiques. After ten years, she moved to Philadelphia, where she met Alex.

Photo of Cleveland, OH © Alex Trejo, made with the Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6 lens. 1/320 F11 ISO 200.

Photo of Cleveland, OH © Alex Trejo, made with the Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6 lens. 1/320 F11 ISO 200.

Alex was born in raised in Philadelphia. He studied architecture and worked in that field for about a decade before he realized that his hobby of photography was actually more of a passion. This realization conveniently coincided with a major slowdown in building and found the freedom to forge a new career path. He took a photography class at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and looked for every opportunity to create a body of work and show it.  After exhibiting in local coffee shops, events and galleries, an opportunity came up to take over a gallery in the city. Having one’s own gallery to present and sell work, constantly seeing the response from strangers walking in, and even supporting and exhibiting other artists’, was an invaluable experience. Currently, Alex works with a local firm, DS Creative, photographing homes and portraits for Real Estate professionals in Northern Virginia, as well as other freelance architectural work with DC area architects and engineers.

People used to visit the gallery and, after enjoying the work on the walls, would come and ask “Do you shoot weddings?” Most time the answer was “Where would we find the time?” though we did shoot weddings for family a few times. When we left that gallery space, we decided to find a hybrid space where we could show work and have studio sessions and meet with wedding clients. That’s when we really started working out what our strengths and weaknesses are and how to work together as a team.

Photo © Lila Trejo. Engagement photo at the National Harbor made with the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 1/1600 F/5 ISO 400.

Photo © Lila Trejo. Engagement photo at the National Harbor made with the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 1/1600 F/5 ISO 400.

Is photography a passion or a hobby?
We are both pretty passionate about photography—it was one of the first things we found we had in common when we met. It’s really the one thing we always want to do. We typically pack our camera bags in the trunk everywhere we go ‘just in case’. Having recently moved, we want to build a new client base in the Northern Virginia/DC metro area, and we are plotting our next move (like a studio/gallery space in the very cool converted-prison-now-artist-studios, Lorton Workhouses, in our area.)

What kind of images do you shoot?
Alex principally shoots dreamy landscapes and architecture. Lila is more into details, nature, and people. One can see this especially when they go out shooting together, point in the same direction, and get totally different images.  When it comes to shooting weddings, Alex is fantastic at directing and posing portraits and capturing critical moments, and Lila really loves when people, including children, sort of ‘forget the camera’ and just relax and precious interactions are captured. “One of the reasons we really like to do an engagement shoot with a couple a month or more before the wedding is that we learn a lot about them and break the ice. On the day of the wedding, we’ve already shared some laughs and we’re not adding to their nerves. We take pride that many couples have said that we made them feel at ease—that we’re professional, yet relaxed. No one needs more stress on their wedding day!”

Photo © Alex Trejo. Jefferson Memorial as seen through the 10-20mm F4-5.6. 1/250 F8 ISO 400

Photo © Alex Trejo. Jefferson Memorial as seen through the 10-20mm F4-5.6. 1/250 F8 ISO 400

Tell us aboutyour first Sigma lens
We bought a Sigma 24-70 2.8-4 about 6 years ago. And then we invested some money from a wedding we booked into faster zoom lenses. That’s where our first 50-150mm 2.8 came into our lives. That was a great, great lens.Was...because one day we met some friends for brunch and Lila’s camera took a hard tumble to the floor when we got up to greet them. Trying not to ruin everyone’s time, we just enjoyed brunch and brushed it off. Later on when we realized the lens was damaged, we felt sick. A well meaning friend said—”well thank goodness it was just the lens and not the camera.” What restraint it took not to burst into tears!

That’s not how this works! We shipped it off to Sigma to get it repaired and waited anxiously. The customer service was phenomenal, but the lens was discontinued and we were offered a very fair deal to replace it with the latest model. Now we’re totally over “The Tragedy”!

Meanwhile, Alex needed a super wide for his fine art photography and once he got his 10-20mm, the world literally opened up. Besides not having to get completely on the ground to capture some of his dramatic architectural shots, he has been so happy with the images he can produce with the right lens and filters.

Occoquan Wildlife Refuge by Alex Trejo with the 10-20mm F4-5.6. 10 sec F/11 ISO 200.

Occoquan Wildlife Refuge by Alex Trejo with the 10-20mm F4-5.6. 10 sec F/11 ISO 200.

Was it a discovery or a research project or a recommendation?
Research. Actually, we probably do a little too much research on glass! Our wishlist is a bit too long. But there are so many opinions and reviews out there–and many of them quite biased.  One thing that has been super helpful for us is having rented some lenses through a service, we’ve purposely tried different brands of the same lens to see the difference for ourselves and we’ve come to the conclusion that Sigma lenses are top quality and worth every penny, even though typically way fewer pennies than others!

When was the moment you realized that Sigma products were special to you?
Recently we went to a nearby wildlife preserve on the Occoquan Bay on a rainy day. It was the first time we’d found time to really go out with both our favorite lenses at the same time. We both came home and uploaded our images right away and both of us were so happy. We realized we both had the gear that was right for us and we were able to make the images we longed to make.

What differentiates Sigma from other manufacturers that you’ve used/worked with?
Everyone has to make that decision when they decide to invest in a DSLR what brand they’re going to choose and stick with. And conventional wisdom dictates that if you buy the lens that matches the brand of your camera, you’ll get the best results. But our experience with Sigma, compared with first and other third party lenses, is that the lenses are always equal to or better than anything out there. And maybe because we had a mishap and were treated so well, we have more of a connection with Sigma as a company with real people who are pretty awesome to their customers.  Sigma is the only brand website we’re always going back to to see what’s new.

Photo © Lila Trejo. Georgetown wedding photo made with the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 1/160 F/6.3 ISO 1250

Photo © Lila Trejo. Georgetown wedding photo made with the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 1/160 F/6.3 ISO 1250

What is your most memorable day as a photographer
It’s more of a most memorable two weeks. We chose to wander around Ireland for our honeymoon and for two weeks straight we explored a beautiful land, cameras in tow, with a few pub stops along the way, naturally. On the West Coast, we spent a day in Connemara and fell in love with a misty, wild, yet peaceful terrain. The images from that day are a part of our life (and decor!) and transport us to an amazing time and place in our history together.

Dream shoot/dream equipment/dream photo?
Lila recently declared “I’m not shooting another wedding without that Sigma 85mm 1.4!“—she just loves the buttery goodness of that perfect portrait lens and would love to just spend her days making artistic portraits of people, especially friends and family, with an array of perfect prime lenses.

Alex would love to travel through Europe shooting as much old world architecture as possible. When he needs a respite from the city, to go out to the countryside and find a misty lake, stream, pond, or river and shoot it. Equipment: 17-50 2.8 and his trusty 10-20mm super wide.

One atypical thing in your camera bag?
Lila tries to always keep a protein bar because it’s so easy to get lost in a shooting expedition and postpone eating for ‘that light!’

Alex carries a flask he purchased in Ireland—it can get cold on a long shooting expedition and good to have a little something to share.

Who is your photo inspiration? Why?
Lila:  My photo inspiration isn’t actually a photographer. When I studied Andrew Wyeth’s watercolors, I was really struck by the depth of understanding of the objects he painted and how he created portraits that were so much more than they seemed. I think when I shoot detail I’m trying to understand that subject, to study it. Wyeth could paint a room, or a set of objects, as a portrait of a person represented by these inanimate things. I am drawn to photographs that tell a story, even portraits can tell as story. I aspire to make images that make you want to know more of that story (or make one up!)

Alex: Alfred Stieglitz. He was an American photographer and modern art promoter who was instrumental over his fifty-year career in making photography an accepted art form. He and the Photo-Secession group of the time created these ethereal photographs by manipulating the image during capture (vaseline on the lens, soft focus filters etc.) or in the printmaking to create these beautiful images that capture the imagination. I have many books on the history of the subject and of the pictorialist movement which keep me inspired and confident to make the images I see in my mind’s eye.

Tennessee Wedding by Lila Trejo. Shot with the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8. 1/250 F4 ISO 2500.

Tennessee Wedding by Lila Trejo. Shot with the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8. 1/250 F4 ISO 2500.

What inspires you?
Lila: I’m inspired by the simple beauty you find when you slow down and really look at something, or someone. Once a photographer friend flippantly said, “you can tell how a person feels about someone by how good or bad they look in the pictures they take”. I don’t know if it’s true, but it still stuck with me in the sense that I choose to take my time and find everyone’s true beauty because everyone has it. That’s part of the fun of shooting weddings–when you follow the gaze as one looks upon another person with total love you can see what they see. That’s pretty awesome, and inspiring.

Alex: I’m inspired by dramatic beauty, finding something good about a subject and pushing yourself to create ways to make it amazing. It’s there, and the search for it–whether finding a better angle to shoot the happy couple, or waiting for that perfect light on a landscape–once you find it you feel it. Then click.

What do you know for sure about Sigma?
Sigma makes awesome lenses. The construction and image quality continue to impress us. Their customer service is excellent. We are excited to see what Sigma adds to their lens lineup.

What is your prize lens choice?
Nikon mount 50mm F 1.4 EX DG HSM.