At Home With
Brian W. Ferry, Photographer

If photographer Brian W. Ferry shoots like he takes absolutely nothing for granted — making us pine hard for moments of intensely quiet, understated beauty that probably already exist in our everyday lives — it’s likely because he feels so grateful to be doing what he’s doing. He may have discovered his inner camera nerd way back when he was growing up in Connecticut, but just a few short years ago, he was working long hours as a corporate lawyer in London, taking pictures merely as a personal creative escape hatch. Only after his blog began delivering fans and potential clients to his digital doorstep did he gather the resolve to quit his job, move to Brooklyn, and make a career out of triggering in people a kind of strange, misplaced nostalgia. “I think a lot about taking photos that are about more than capturing something beautiful, that have a heaviness attached to them,” Ferry told us earlier this winter at his Fort Greene garden apartment, as we rifled through his belongings together. “The heaviness doesn’t need to be negative, just convey a real sense of purpose. That’s hard to do.”

And yet he’s certainly doing it, as both followers of the Blue Hour and clients like Starbucks would no doubt agree. That’s why we’re so excited to share the news that he’s become Sight Unseen’s newest contributor, having already shot two studios for us that will be posted here in the coming month. First, though, he turned his lens on his own home, documenting the interests and influences from his inner world that help shape his unique view of the outer one.

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“My desk/workspace. The chair is a vintage Ercol green dot chair — I bought a set of four while I was living in London for a couple of years. They’re my most-loved pieces of furniture.”

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“My ever-changing inspiration wall, with bits from various artists and photographers (Ye Rin Mok, Jennilee Marigomen, Wolfgang Tillmans, Lucien Freud, Daniel Everett, etc). I wrote that note to myself as a reminder last year (‘Just Go To Bed Earlier’) — still working on that one.”

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“The good people at OMMU books gave me that ROLU4OMMU poster at the NY Art Book Fair last year. I loved their collaboration with ROLU. The colored posterboard is leftover from a shoot I did last year and I’ve kept it, all rolled up like that, since. It reminds me of Anne Truitt’s works.”

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“The vases are flea market finds — cheap and beautiful. The beaded shell is from Mexico. I picked it up in 2008 and after I bought it, the lady told me it would bring me sexual energy. No comment.”

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“Lots of homes in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill have an almost identical fireplace. I love the color of the marble. Objects on the mantle include a Morgan Peck sculpture and a jug by UK-based Ian McIntyre for Another Country, which I bought at the Jasper Morrison shop in London — one of my favorite places. My good friend Maria Vettese took the photos on the right, of the men’s shirts. They’re from a series called ‘HIS.’ So expressive and simple. The London print is by The Purist.”

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“The print over the bed is an edition from my friend Christopher David Ryan. I added the Shaker pegs on the wall inspired by St. John and Rochelle Canteen — two of my favorite restaurants in London. And that’s a green Arnold Circus Stool by Martino Gamper. In the winter, it’s a great stand for my humidifier.”

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“Film negatives piled on a work table and my negative scanner. I’m ashamed at how careless this is — and it’s only the tip of the iceberg! My negatives are a disaster. Luckily, I’m in the process of archiving all of it in binders.”

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“This is a print by Mike Mills for Commune. There’s a part in his movie Beginners where Ewan McGregor goes out with a friend and graffitis these pop-culture references around LA — ‘Britney Spears discovers God,’ or something like that. This poster echoes this, and reminds me of the timeline pieces from Felix Gonzalez-Torres.”

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“My first film camera and my most recent film camera. The Pentax K1000 is what I would’ve used in high school to shoot film; I have this special connection to it, even though the light meter is broken and the lens is stuck on the body. I don’t use it anymore but I can’t get rid of it. Nostalgia.”

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“My living room gets pretty nice light in the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll take a break from working and just sit and watch the light moving and morphing in here. It’s best in the winter when the trees outside are bare.”

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“I bought the Ercol coffee table in London — I love Ercol’s vintage furniture. I’d like to do a project documenting their original pieces.”

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“I watched this stool being made by James Carroll at the Makers & Brothers shop that Sight Unseen organized at the Standard East Village last year, as part of the Noho Design District. I use it as a plant stand mostly, but it’s sturdy enough that you can sit on it.”

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“This winter I got really into beeswax candles. They make the best patterns when they melt. The eye bowl is by Karin Gulbran, part of her recent exhibition at South Willard in LA. The turquoise tiles are Geoff McFetridge for Heath Ceramics: ‘My Head Disappears While My Hands are Thinking.’ I added little bits of cork to the bottom so they can be used as coasters or hot plates or something. And that bit of pottery in the corner is a piece by Mondays Projects.”

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“My childhood friend Kate made this pinch pot in middle school art class, and I love it. I’ve had it since 7th grade and it used to sit in my drawer holding loose change for years. Recently I was like, ‘You know what? This guy is coming out of the drawer!’ Kate would laugh hysterically if she knew I still had this.”

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“I got Nathaniel Elliot Worthington III at a tag sale years ago — it’s a puzzle from the early ‘80s I think. I found it a couple of years before neo-preppy became somewhat mainstream around 2000, and I loved its references to that particular culture. I grew up in Connecticut and you definitely see a lot of that old-school preppy on the east coast. What I want to know is, who decided this would look best as a puzzle?!”

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“I have a lot of tote bags. The top one was a nice gift from the designer/artist David Rager, which he made for Candelaria, a taco shop and bar in Paris. His work is great.”

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“The top two photos are mine — a good memory from an afternoon at the pub, and a photo of the lines created by empty restaurant tables. The small bowl was a gift from a friend, by Shino Takeda. I always collect rocks and stones and other things when I travel, so you’ll see them all over my apartment. The postcards on the bottom are favorite images by Wolfgang Tillmans and Koto Bolofo/Margaret Howell. The nature print is by Maria Vettese.”

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“I bought ‘Objects USA’ when I was in LA last October, and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s out of print now, but it organizes incredible art and objects from the 1960s and ‘70s by material: ceramic, glass, wood, plastic, etc. It’s a great resource, but it’s also full of wacky photos of the artists and their work.”

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“This is a page from Joel Meyerowitz’s book ‘A Summer’s Day,’ one of my favorite photography books. I picked it up at a Brooklyn Heights bookshop in 2002, and I look to it constantly. I love how Meyerowitz is able to tell the story of a summer’s day in Cape Cod from sunrise to sundown without it ever feeling like a cliché. It’s taught me a lot about how to convey a sense of place and environment in photographs. It’s not a touristy view of Cape Cod, and it has a certain heaviness and darkness to it, too.”

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“This is a spread from my book ‘Quality of Life,’ which was published by Lawson’s Books in 2011. It’s such a different feeling to produce something you can hold rather than sharing photos digitally. I can see how my work has changed since this book was made, but I’m really proud of it. The photo on the left shows this weird triangular detail in the Arnold Circus housing estates in east London.”

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“Some favorite books, and a postcard from the Gerhard Richter exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2011. This painting haunts me, so I bought the postcard to remember that feeling.”

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“I found this mug in a little shop recently and it caught my eye. I thought it was something you’d get for free when you buy cocoa, but I posted a photo of it on Instagram and my friend Erik Heywood commented: ‘There’s a picture of that mug in the Truck Furniture catalog!’ Truck is a Japanese company, and I actually had the catalog, so I looked, and he was right. It says ‘Japan’ on the bottom, so I assume it was made there.”

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“The image on the right is from a series of photos of roses that I took in London. I noticed them in London everywhere I looked, and to me, they’re classic but also a bit heavy. The image was inspired by the cover of the New Order album, on the left, which juxtaposes classical references with contemporary graphics. The painting on the cover is by Henri Fantin-Latour, and obviously Peter Saville repurposed it. So I shot a series of roses at dusk to incorporate the heavy, dark, dusky feeling of the record and the cover. I did a series of maybe five of these photos, and they’re some of my personal favorites.”

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“A limited-edition print called ‘Night Flora’ that I recently made for my small online shop. I still have prints of this available for purchase here.”

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“Some kitchen things: a speckled tray that I picked up at an antiques shop, a Peter Shire mug purchased in L.A. last year, and a favorite bowl by Robert Blue.”