At The Studio

Ok, there have been a few of you (and you know who you are!) who have ever-so-gently nudged me via direct and instant messages (god I love the interwebs) and asked to see some snapshots of my new studio. Well, I've reluctantly held off because 1) it's not all pretty pretty yet and 2) I haven't figured out how to get the working girls and clever local entrepreneurs to shoo away from my front door long enough to take pictures. And then I remembered how that within a week of signing my lease I was working in my new space, taking pictures and really making it a real working studio. Because of this it's never going to be a showplace and I'm fine with that. Finally.

Perhaps one day there will be parking for clients and a super fancy lounge with a German assistant who makes lattes for everyone with my $4k espresso machine and fancy catering to eat and the required pool table for the clients and a WII and personalized matchbooks but damnit, in the meantime they're getting me and my empty studio. And I really really hope it's ok. I really need to work on being a much flashier photographer, I think.

Anyway, here's a little tour.


There's a skylight on the second floor of my studio that shines down onto the first floor. The quality of light is unreal and depending on the time of day it can be anywhere from gold to blue. It ends up in solid bands of light and reminds me of being in a church. So of course I grabbed an antique tablecloth and assorted plates and dishes because that's what you do, right?


On the left side are plates, bowls and platters from the white section of my prop shelf. There are some thrift store pieces, some new items, some antiques, some Mud Australia (my fave!) and some I can't even remember where they came from. And that totally helps me when I break something because let's face it, I break stuff. It's what I do.

On the right is me. I put up a big painting tarp I found on the side of the road because I knew it would come in handy but I actually fell in love with the oversprayed stencil it created. Plus it was the only thing tall enough to fill a big wall. In the corner is a Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, one of my mostest favoritist plants EVER!! And a Bertoia chair.


On the left are more prop shelves. We organize by color and it seems to work. I previously had everything grouped by category but it just didn't seem the best way to do things for my brain. I also try to rotate my props out on a regular basis so that stuff doesn't always look the same. I'll also hang on to something because I know one day it will be the perfect prop. On the right are old forks and spoons in cool old wooden boxes. They haven't been cleaned and organized along with the other utensils. Just give me more coffee and watch out.


I can't take credit for all this great old baking stuff — this is all Adam's doing. He's been spending quite a bit of time in the midwest on a job, going back and forth and hitting all the quaint antique shops in Wisconsin. It's such a nice contrast to all the modern pieces we seem to have floating around the studio. I'm sure there are great stories about what was baked in these things. Now why can't he bring me back cheese curds? Huh?

Spot the dork

Here's a quick view facing the kitchen. Like I said I still have quite a bit to go before it looks the way I want. I haven't even tackled the upstairs space yet, it's just storage. You get extra points if you spot the dork in the mask.


Folks, this is a terrible image. Not just because my studio is a mess but it's way overexposed. But whatevs, it's just to show my workspace. Shooting with natural light here is not a problem, in fact it can be too much at times. And the big thing blocking the garage door is a scrim to diffuse the light just a bit.

Everything is on casters, including my work table, my storage drawers, even a big platform where I set up my tables. It's so much easier for repositioning as the light changes throughout the day. Armando, thank you!


Here are two things I cannot live without now: My Rowenta Pressure Iron & Steamer and big giant pieces of foamcore.

So this iron, um, man. You probably didn't know I really enjoy ironing and it totally relaxes me. But now I'm downright giddy with this machine that shoots out a constant, generous amount of steam all by pressing a lever on the handle. I'm currently obsessed with this and am now ironing for ironing's sake. I'm just wrong.

And the foamcore, aka v-flats, v cards, whatever you want to call them, they're essential. It's basically two 4' by 8' pieces taped together and can be used to fill in light or even block light when needed. I never had the space large enough to use them before but now I've quite the collection. Even in black for those moments when you really want to block or subtract light. And my absolute favorite thing: Open and arrange all 8 v flats into a small room and walk inside and out over and over again until someone asks me what the hell I'm doing. Hi! I'm 4 years old.

So that concludes this very brief behind the scenes. Next time we'll go upstairs, take a look at my glass and cup cabinets and maybe I'll introduce you to Edgar, Niko, Steve and Dan, my neighbors from around the way who just happen to celebrate Happy Hour at 8am every single day! What a coincidence! Oh, and here's a flower shot from today since I had to actually do something productive.


  1. says

    I love it!! This place just seems awesome. I think my favorite shot above is the old silverware boxes. So cool.

    I think I’m just going to have to have to drop in and visit one of these days. :-)

    -Ben D.

  2. says

    I am pretty sure that my heart just skipped a beat, because I think this is just perfect. If this isn’t flashy, then I never need to know what a “flashy” studio looks like because your prop closet is gorgeous and I think it feels relaxing, however overexposed it may be. :)

    The greatest thing is that you have a studio, that is ALL YOURS, and that will eventually become all Matthew Armendariz. That is amazing in itself and you should be so very proud. Good Lord- I don’t even know you and I am proud!! Congrats.

  3. says

    That light! Oh, that light is lovely. How are you doing adjusting to the difference in light?

    And the giant foamcore? Duh. Why don’t I have those? Will remedy that shortly. If only to be a 4-year-old again…

  4. says

    Your photography brings out beauty in even the most simple of things Matt. Thanks for sharing the great pics of your working environment. It’s great to see that you have a special space all to yourself.

    Could the mention of your future 4K espresso machine be a Pasquini? If so, they are definitely beautiful works of art. Our friend has one and served up some mighty fine espresso’s from it for last week. They are just amazing machines!

  5. says

    Ok, Matt. Thanks for making my jaw drop :) I love, love, love that first pic of the bowls and plates on the cloth.

    Can I come raid your studio now?

  6. says

    Except for the well-organized shelves of plates, the amazing cooling racks and muffin tins sourced from the mid-West, the fabulous wall hanging and Bertoia chairs, the turbo iron and dreamy natural light, and the talented dude in the flip-flops snapping away, it looks almost like my studio.

    Except here, the winos are on the inside.

  7. says

    Great and hilarious tour of the studio..I need one of those myself. Also, I’ll trade you some cheese curds for a Bertoia chair!

  8. says

    OK, it goes without saying that I adore the stacks and stacks of plates, and your studio (you *know* you were saying it’s not beautiful or interesting because it’s so generously both) but Lord, help me out of my chair: that iron! That fucking iron! I’m not a jealous person by nature but, shoot. I am now. Will you please invite us over? Can I bring my ironing basket?

  9. says

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, absolutely stunning, I love it. I’m only just now starting to bring out the idea of props specifically for my shots. You have been an extreme inspiration along the way, and this is wonderful, I’m so happy for you, so if I didn’t say it before, congrats on the studio :)

  10. says

    Niiiiiiiiice. Wow. All that and you want to change it? Geez. Sometimes I think what makes a being creative is the ever evolving need to be better; to learn something new and/or how to do something differently than you’ve always done. But, I can tell you Mr. Matt that evolution has done wonders with your space. And if I was a ‘working woman’ I would TOTALLY want to hang out there. The space is cool and retro and chic and comfy and inspiring and…

    Quarter, nickel, dime, me hang out there long time! :)

  11. Kerry says

    What a fun blog entry — giving us what we’ve been dying to see! Need an assistant that will work for free?

  12. Steve says

    you so rock. i love this post. your space is looking too awesome. I’m so happy for you and incredibly jealous. w00t w00t!

  13. says

    Matt, please please please don’t go a flashy on this. This is just perfect. Down to earth, functional, and bloody awesome looking. I wish I had a space like that!

  14. says

    hahaha! methinks someone had a bit much coffee before giving us the tour???

    your space is awesome, and i am so happy for you! you have made it perfect, especially with the addition of the dork in the mask. can i have one of those?


  15. says

    Oh goodness, what a fantastic studio! Such a wonderful space and I love the tarp on the wall. How I long for your studio, your job, food. Matt, I want to be you.

  16. says

    ooh i think i see some space for me to move in there hehe i hope Adam does not mind :p … a little corner perhaps …damn u already used the space under the stairs …
    Love all that light in your house, the tones are just right n so beautiful and everything looks so correct!
    and with an iron like that,i dont blame you … someone like me who cant even iron an handkerchief, might get addicted … lol 😀
    Love all those props … at this point i cant tell you how much i envy you :p
    Thanks so much for this wonderful tour !

  17. says

    Are you taking applications for that “German Assistant”? I make a mean latte and can totally learn to fake the accent! I’m like Howard Schultz, Meryl Streep, and Bronson Pinchot from Beverly Hills Cop rolled into one! But you’re gonna have to move that sectional because my desk would look perfect there! Do I have the job?!!

    It looks FANTASTILICIOUS, Matt! I so hear you on wanting everything all nicey-nicey, is-that-another-editor-from-elle-decor-wanting-a feature, perfect…but it just slows you down. Or, in my case, stops you. So thanks for the peek and the inspiration…as usual :)

    How many bonus points do I get if I noticed “the dork in the mask” before I even read the post?

  18. says

    *Sigh* You know, Matt, not to be crude—but you could photograph a pile of shit and make it look great. Beautiful studio, props and photos (as usual)!

  19. says

    I am so jealous. What a great studio! Everything is perfect, and I would give half an arm for all of your props (plus the place to store them). Way cool. Congratulations!

  20. Melanie says

    Matt–I love your new space–it is soo beautiful–I love white–and I love how you separate things in a clean fashion–gorgeous!!

  21. says

    The studio looks perfect ,lightly and clean , reminds me when I work with photo style …a long time ago,Great,indeed-

  22. Corinna says

    I love, love, love your writing and your photos! You have made my day—I’ve been going through your posts and have found reasons to laugh, celebrate, even get misty-eyed. Blessings to you and your dog and your partner!

  23. says

    wow, your collection of props is gorgeous! The space looks amazing, too! And your comment about ironing… yes, that is totally wrong. My mom laughed at me the other day when I told her it took me 35 minutes to iron one shirt :( I iron one side and the other side gets ruined… I dunno how you enjoy it.

  24. says

    Your studio is ridiculous! It has given me a whole new perspective on writing and photographing food. I too have a food blog and this has inspired me to up the ante. I’m going to start collecting plates, dinnerware, etc. and I’ve got a friend whose studio gets gorgeous light, all year round – even in dreary Wisconsin Winters. Hopefully he’ll let me shoot there from time to time. Again, thank you for the inspiration and exquisite translation of food from the palate to retinas.

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