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Lovin' the Light



Dan Forer sheds new light on architectural and interior spaces

Dan Forer's life before hitting architectural heights is the stuff of novels:

Begins professional life as a lighting designer in theatre in college. Works on and off Broadway and in repertory companies across the U.S. until early '60s, when he finds himself in the Army, providing lighting for the Army's TV station in Seoul. Buys first camera, $35 Asahi Pentax, at base PX. Ventures to Puerto Rico, where he meets New York ex-pat commercial photographer, Conrad Eiger, whose business acumen and vigor inspires him to this day.

"He taught me all he could, eventually making me his partner," says Forer. "While no subject was out of our reach-portraits, aerials, industrial, interiors, product- there was an abiding sense that architecture held a place of special importance."

Ironically, the decision to concentrate on architectural photography was made for him by clients rather than by him.

© The Conde Nast Publications. As seen in Architectural Digest, this ocean view was taken on a
balcony in Necker Island, British Virgin Islands. Owner: Richard Branson.Architect: Jon Osman.

Forer's Forte

After relocating to Miami, he started his own studio, Forer, Inc., by 1976.

"I had always enjoyed the glamour of the ad shoot-the pizzazz, the fanfare, the acclaim," recalls Forer." With architecture, you're more free, independent, respected, but it's a lonely craft. But gradually, the calls for architectural work began to squeeze out other work until, bit by bit, I had become an architectural specialist."

Within three years, he was working for Architectural Digest. Since that time, his AD assignments have taken him to the Caribbean, where he has photographed the homes of Claudette Colbert and Richard Branson and in Florida to the homes of Gianni Versace, Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sophia Loren, and Cher.

"While most of my Architectural Digest assignments come from the magazine, I will bring a project to their attention from time to time. It's a special pleasure when one of these gets accepted for publication.

One of my favorites began as a chance meeting while I was on assignment for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. We had a brief stopover

on St. Croix, so my wife, Loretta, an interior designer, and I took the time to explore some old haunts, including an 18th century sugar mill home I had shot in the '70s. We had the extraordinary luck of bumping into the owner, who invited us up for a look-see. We were enchanted and promised to come back to 'scout' it for the magazine. We did just that-and were commissioned to shoot an assignment. It became a cover story." These days, Forer is listed as 'contributing photographer' on Architectural Digest's masthead. He also serves other prestigious clients, including: Arquitectonica Inter-national; Art & Antiques; Audio Video Interiors; Andrea Clark Brown, Architects; Borrelli & Associates, Architects; Charles Harrison Pawley; FAIA Dianne Davant & Associates; Disney Co.; Estée Lauder, Inc.; Echeverria Design Group; H. D. Litton Interior Design; Ocean Drive; Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company; Robb Report; Spillis Candela DMJM.

Communication is Key

Anyone who knows Forer knows how he loves working with light. Since architectural and interior spaces are already "composed" by their creators, the photographer's first job is to recompose by selectively omitting elements.

"You can take natural light as it is or glamorize and be theatrical. "I usually start with the hope of providing realism and go where the flow takes me as the setup proceeds. Sometimes I feel a sense of drama unfold, as though a story is being told, and the gloves come off and the theatre begins."

The object of a photograph, says Forer, is communication. "My job is to make the eye of the viewer flow through the photograph in a way that I've planned, by using composition and lighting. A lapse in either of these and the viewer is lost, the effect fails, the picture fails.

"I have to deliver images that convey the experience of the designer's intent, which involves light, volume, texture, color, in a fresh way. Clients need to feel involved in the shooting session and need to feel that their work, through the photographs, can gain the attention of the media."

The cover image of Casa Larios, commissioned by interior designer Nury Feria and featured in Interior Design magazine, is a prime example of effective communication.

The owners of the restaurant, Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio, were clients of his. This particular view stands out in his memory as a "signature" for what the place represented.

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