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: http://www.marvin.com/window-door-ideas/architects-challenge/2013-santa-rita-cottage/

Read more.. Thursday, September 19th, 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: www.bgpix.net

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

Greek Prespective

I recently got a call from a fine art consulting agency that was looking for some architectural photography for a project that they were fulfilling for a client. I have to admit that I was somewhat setback that this company considered me an authority in terms of historical architectural photography in and around my hometown. Certainly not an academic in the traditional sense of what an architectural historian might look or sound like, setting all the art history jargon aside, I can honestly summarize why I shoot by simply saying that I get a kick out of making pretty pictures of the world around me. Being blessed with living in area rich in history and with a few somewhat significant contributions still standing in and around the downtown area, I thought it very prevalent to pull an old image out of the files and write a couple of thoughts about an old building that I have visited throughout the years.

The First Church of Christ Scientist built in 1905 and designed by Willis Polk has served as a literal pillar of civic and religious pride in the downtown area of San Jose. I often like to think of the building as the little mini Greek building, because of its small scale in comparison to the Iconic columns and large portico. The First Church building is a modern sample of the larger than life edifices that the Greeks were known to create. They were also known for playing on the human perspective of how we judge the size and alignment of lines, when standing near the base or in front of the building, you can’t help but follow the columns from the base all the way up to where the columns meet the frieze, ending at the portico that seems to be a huge massive triangle or pyramid that floats in the sky. I warn you, if you hold this position with your head long enough you might risk injury. All jokes aside, the Greeks knew how to convey the idea that their buildings were made for or by a higher order, I’m sure there are numerous studied arguments or theories why the Greeks chose to build there buildings in the manner in which they did, one thing is certain though, vanity or outward appearances was definitely one of the key motivators.

First Church of Christ has been abandoned for sometime now. Despite being past it’s glory, the building is owned by Barry Swenson Builder and has been included as part of a master plan to be restored and flaked by 2 huge high rises on either end in the not so distant future. It’s not certain when this project will ever materialize but, I am certain that the current downturn in downturn in the real estate market has an influential decision on postponing the such ambitious endeavors, perhaps until a time when the Greeks get their house in order.

Bernardo Grijalva

Read more.. Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Life Imitates Art

It’s not often that I take the time to read all of the captions or editorial copy when it comes to art books but, “Rooms to Inspire in the City”, by the husband wife team duo Annie Kelly and photographer Tim Street Porter is a must read for anybody with an interest in design and architecture. Published by Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. the medium format size 255 page book is a compilation of several different stories about beautifully designed interior urban dwellings from around the world. As an apartment dweller myself, I had a peaked interested in some of the suggestion and ideas that Kelly offers towards the end of her book. Part documentary in the featuring some of the design world’s well know players, like Jonathan Adler’s chic implementation of his 60’s mod like aesthetic into a New York apartment. Kelly’s writing is also insightful in her analysis of the state of the publishing world, the influx of stylishly designed home products now available to the masses as well a the role the internet plays in how we get our stories and ideas for inspiration.

Tim Street Porter’s airy atmospheric vignettes are beautiful to look at, captured in the old school film tradition that he is know for, his flawless manipulation of light and exposure illustrate each space in an honest and straight forward manner, free of the common overly saturated colors and lighting that is so common in today commercial advertising environment.

Despite picking-up my copy from my local library, in an effort to do my part to support the fine art of bookmaking, I’ll will be adding a permanent copy to my book collection soon.


Read more.. Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Stanford Campus – Architectural Perspective

I truly believe that life is about the journey and I’m always baffled and at times surprised when my plans always don’t work out the way I plan them. Ideally, my first Blog entry was supposed to be about my trip to the Walker Evans exhibit at the Cantor Museum on the Stanford Campus. Instead, I’m writing about my self guided architectural tour of Stanford’s Main Quad and Memorial Church, built in homage to the founder Leland Stanford by his widow Jane Lathrop Stanford. Designed by Architect Charles A. Coolidge during the later part of 19th century, Memorial Church was dedicated in 1903 and has been referred to as “the University’s architectural crown jewel”.

Memorial Church is situated at the mouth of the university’s main quad and it’s no wonder that the Quad’s colonnade is a destination for newly engaged couples and photographers alike. The main quad’s rows of columns and soft tranquil light are the perfect background for an ambient light portrait shoot. Despite the rainy northern California April day, the gray overhead skies served as a hidden blessing for those dark shadowed surfaces that would normally go pitch black under bright shooting conditions. Having owned my Sigma DP1 for some time now, I thought the Romanesque architectural backdrop and dark and moody interiors of the Memorial Church would serve as a perfect opportunity to try out the DP1 sepia color mode. Armed with my ultra light Slik tripod and the compact DP1, I set out with enough time for what the parking meter would allow time for, to wonder around the campus and discover if there was anything worthy to shoot for the new Blog.

Despite my second disappointment in missing out on the Walker exhibit, my first attempt due to my inability to find parking, my second due to my lack of planning and going out there on a Tuesday morning, on their closed day, of course. I was fortunate enough to walk away from that dreary rainy day with some not too shabby pics, I think Hiroshimo Sugimoto would be impressed with the somber interior of Memorial Church and I’m sure Walker Evans would have surely found my candid shots of some of Stanford’s tourist worthy of his approval.

I approached the campus with a pessimistic sensibility of knowing what to expect, having visited that part of the campus on several occasions in the past. I went into it with landscape photographer’s hat on, with a preconceived picture of what to expect but, what I walked away with were a bunch of little glimpses of time or in the spirit of Cartier Bresson, a few decisive moments.


Read more.. Tuesday, April 10th, 2012