Living Architecture Greatest American Houses of the 20th Century by Dominique Browning and Lucy Gilmore

Having not had the opportunity to view a copy in its’ entirety, I’m sure all of the great residential designers of the modern era are represented.

With its’ photography being compared to that of Robert Polidori, I’m sure it’s a good piece of eye candy about the two subjects I love so much.



Read more.. Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Studio Current

Out from acting as Director of Architecture at Barry Swenson Builder to starting his own firm, Jeff Current took some time to talk to me about his new venture.

Read the complete interview here Studio_Current-1628


Read more.. Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Scottish Rite Temple


Scottish Rite Temple

Scottish Rite Temple


As part of a site specific art instillation that I would hang in the lobby of a commercial building one block away from the icon building, my client came to me with a simple assignment which would make most photographers jump at the opportunity of working on. Creating art, fine art that hangs on the wall for onlookers to admire can be a good test of patience as well as a therapeutic exercise in the reason why we ( photogs) care so much about our craft.


When the client says, “ I want to see some architectural details”, I figure a simple quick shoot with a hand held digital camera, coupled with some creative postproduction work should suffice. Six trips later to the same spot, not quite satisfied with my results, it dawned on me that I was un-happy with the contrasty images that I was getting because I failed to remember what makes black and white images so beautiful. The difference between shadows and high lights is something I spent a whole quarter on in college, studying Ansel Adams zone system isn’t a common form of making images for me today but, was none the less instrumental in understanding the importance of film when trying to capture a broad range of shadows and highlights. So, as unconventional or inefficient as the idea might have sounded, I shot Tmax 400 using my low tech Holga and Pentax 67. The softness of the images along with the flat rich array of grays might have as cliché as it may sound, a “timeless” quality to it.


Read more.. Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Wine Country Impromptu Shoot, Ask Questions Later

I couldn’t pass up on trip to the visit a new client that I started working for earlier this spring, a small winery operation in the heart of the wine country. The Caves at Soda Canyon is the brainchild of a young entrepreneurial wine maker with some award wining creations already under his belt.

The idea of Wine, the Wine Country and the picturesque landscape that is so quintessential Sunset Magazine’s best 10 weekend getaways sounded like perfect assignment for me. At first, the marketing team I was working with simply came to me and said, “ We need to get some shots of The Cave”, I thought, a cave is architecture, I guess?

I’m an architectural commercial photographer and should be excited about the idea.

“Oh, by the way The Cave are still being dug and we’re not sure about how to make it look good but, know we need some shots of some of the bottles too”. That was last spring, having visited the Caves a couple of times since then and already having established a working relationship were they trust my creative direction, I’ve since returned a couple of times making quick use of my multifaceted photodojo skills. On past visits I’ve acted as the family portrait photographer while having to quickly shift gears to ensure I cram in a couple of product shots and also manage to leave a couple minutes to get some sunset shots before I call it a wrap. With a little pre-production planning and a light bag filled with the essential location tools like Alien Bee Vagabond Power Packs, 1600 heads and a couple of speed lights; an old waterproof SB 28 and a ballistic Vivitar 285. It’s easy to quickly improvise my lighting a make quick adjustments as needed when I’m running around trying to get that perfect mixture of ambiance and hard highlights that my strobes offer.

On this last trip that we made with the marketing team, the graphic designer and their spouses whom happened to be Brazilian and naturally blessed with some modelesque good looks, I was briefed with some simple facts that there was going to be a wine tasting group coming through around sunset and that The Caves were finished and that they needed some shots for both print and website collateral. Knowing that the wine tasting patron might not be as willing or easily be able to direct as paid talent would be and knowing that walking away with a descent shot that looks natural and real was going to take some quick shooting with a lot of moving around. I quickly put my art directors hat on and saw the modeleque Brazilians standing around as the perfect opportunity to get some life style shots, if I could direct my subjects exactly how I wanted them this would ensure that I walked away with some stellar shots versus trying to create something from a bunch of un suspecting, inebriated wine tour that was probably more interested on making sure their wine glass were full.

In the end I walked away with some great photos of both the wine tasting group and my improvised Brazilian model team. Despite my several years of commercial photography experience behind me and my ability to adapt under tight circumstances, I believe the old idea of always having a plan B, should never be forgotten.


Read more.. Monday, December 2nd, 2013

2013 Marvin Windows and Door Architect’s Challenge Cottage Winner

I love working with Architects. It’s especially rewarding knowing that I am not merely creating art to satisfy a simple thrill but, creating a document of work preformed, ideas brought to life and in some cases used to pat one self on the back with an industry accolade.

I was thrilled to learn that my client Fergus Garber Young Architect were part of this year’s Marvin Window’s and Doors Architect’s Challenge.

The quaint guest cottage is anything but small feeling, flaked next to a large covered outdoor patio that acts as a separate living area with it’s full size fireplace. The Cottage brings big California outdoor living to Suberbia. The full size canopy bed and separate sitting area makes the modest footprint feel a lot bigger and would make most New York apartment dwellers envious of this spacious layout.

Read more here:

Read more.. Thursday, September 19th, 2013


Departed comrade

Departed comrade! Thou, redeemed from pain
Shall sleep the sleep that kings desire in vain:
Not thine the sense of loss
But lo, for us the void
That never shall be filled again.
Not thine but ours the grief.
All pain is fled from thee.
And we are weeping in thy stead;
Tears for the mourners who are left behind
Peace everlasting for the quiet dead.

Lucretius, Roman epic poet and philosopher (ca 94 – 55BC)

Read more.. Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Bernardo Grijalva Oakland Beautiful

A constant experiment in terms of its architectural environment, the city that
was once the land of pastoral orchards and farms as Gertrude Stein remembers
it is also the land of buildings. Having gone through a gold rush, postwar
industrial growth and in the midst of a shipping era, Oakland has changed its
built environment through out the 20th century to meet its civic needs. This is
evident in the city’s early transformation during the early 1900’s from its Victorian
country like aesthetic to the more worldly architectural styles during
our country’s modernization. From it’s emerald green Art Deco edifices to it’s
highly ornate theaters, Oakland, California is a menagerie of buildings that
exists as memories, in time as well as utilitarian domiciles and office buildings
that continue to serve its residents.

The Oakland Beautiful photographs whose title pays homage to the City Beautiful
or Beaux Art movement during the 1890’s and 1900’s, was a personal
journey through the urban landscape of downtown Oakland. Having been
raised in an urban setting much like Oakland, the opportunity to explore the
city with an almost tourist like curiosity during the night was an existential
exercise. The city’s rich architectural heritage and built environment served
as ideal subject matter for my preferred work method. Often working alone,
it is sometimes during the midnight hours that I find moments of solace. The
night time hours are perfect for observing details, undisturbed by the busyness
of city life it’s during the night that shapes, light and texture can be
photographed in a manner that show their progression in time.

The photographs are meant to show the viewer an intimate, almost dream
like vignette of Oakland’s architectural history. Through black and white
photographs, mostly soft and imperfect due to their traditional film format, it
is the viewer’s responsibility to connect the images to the different areas in
and around the city of Oakland through memories and past experiences.


Bernardo Grijalva is a commercial architectural photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Please visit our website for photo licensing, commercial assignement or fine art print inquiries:

Read more.. Monday, November 5th, 2012

Oakland Romantica

Oakland Fox Theater photo by Bernardo Grijalva

I was fortunate enough to have a great deal of fun on a commercial assignment not too long ago. My client commissioned me to create a photo story of some of the historic architectural treasures in and around the Oakland, CA area. Having grown up in a city some 40 miles away and what seems like a little sister in comparison, San Jose is twice the population of the City of Oakland. With it’s large city blocks large skyscrapers and a skyline that looks like more of a metropolitan town than San Jose, it’s surprised me that Oakland is as small as it is when compared to the other two large cities around it. It’s true that for some time it was often plagued with a reputation of violence and police corruption in the not too distant past.

The Oakland I got to visit was far from that, the Oakland I got to photograph was perhaps that of an earlier era, a romanticized version of a city with a vibrant downtown, a beautiful lake and an assortment of historic edifices that ran the gamut in style, from Gothic churches to emerald green treasures of the Art Deco movement.

One particular favorite out-take was the Fox Theater. It was built in 1928 in a blend of Indian and Moorish aesthetic; a truly one-of-a- kind building in the Northern California area and a treasure from an era when perhaps money was plentiful and Architects and Artisans were given free reign to make their dream projects a reality.

Using a toy camera and a long exposure on traditional black and white film was pure bliss once I was finished with the final printed piece. The actual negative was a bit on the flat and dull side due to the guestimated over exposure and plastic optics of the Holga lens. Luckily, through my digital post processing and with the help of Nix Silver Efex Pro, I was able to punch up some of the contrast and toning to create an image that Henry Fox Talbot would be envious of.

Please look for some of my work from my Historic Oakland Series to be shown during Oakland’s Art Murmur Event, TBD

Read more.. Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Mentioned as the “ Queen of the California Missions” in Lane Publishing Company’s pictorial book about the missions. I find it somewhat of a contradiction or a counter archetypical description for a building that is large and bulky and has a closer resemblance to ancient Rome than to building styles that were typical for the early California Frontier.  When I think California Mission, I always think adobe, low large eves neatly adored by red tiles with a modest entryway. Santa Barbara is anything but, that. Nestled in an area rich in architectural history and its namesake being synonymous with all things “Spanish” or “Mission Style”. It is a little ironical that the Romanesque Façade, supposedly copied from a book on Architecture by Vitruvias, First Century Roman would be typified as the “Queen”. Franciscan father Antonio Ripoll can be credited for implementing the Vitruvias inspired design and perhaps was looking towards the old world when he wanted to create a permanent church that was worthy of the natural beauty that surrounded it.

With two identical bell towers, the only mission amongst the 21 to have them, it’s lush gardens, Moorish inspired fountain, well designed irrigation system and morbid reminder of our own mortality by way of human sculls embedded over a doorway that leads to the cemetery, Santa Barbara was definitely inspired by a higher calling, perhaps GOD or in this case one can easily see how the natural beauty around the area inspires one to see GOD in it.


Read more.. Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

San Jose’s Modest Art Deco Treasure

photo by Bernardo Grijalva

Hotel De Anza

Mostly nestled by a panorama of shiny new, glass facades. The modest sized Art Deco Hotel was certainly a glitzy tower amongst the semi rural and up and coming area of downtown San Jose, CA. Designed by W.H. Weeks and built a few years prior to what would be one of our country’s darkest economic times, it’s somewhat ironic to think of all of the residential buildings that were built in the same area not to long ago, some 80 years later, perhaps during our countries second economic depression. It’s somewhat puzzling how these speculative waves work but, what is certain, is that great efforts go into buildings and great works come to fruition when there is some sort of speculative motive.

I photographed this building time and time again. It’s somewhat modest in comparison to other Art Deco buildings that can be found through out some of the larger cities. It’s also somewhat conservative in it’s presentation, despite being typified with the Art Deco or Moderne style that stood for all things modern, streamlined and in their use of the human form to celebrate our modern achievements, the Hotel De Anza celebrates the leader of a Spanish expedition party. Taking into mind my mestizo heritage and slight biased perspective as to what made our bountiful valley great, the Hotel De Anza is very much a part of the downtown San Jose’s Landscape and a through back in time when anybody who was anybody would want to go uptown.

Hotel De Anza is listed on the National Register of Historic Places


Read more.. Monday, July 23rd, 2012