That’s a Wrap: Picturing the Overprotected Child

The Overprotected Childby David Arky

In editorial photography, there’s a very fine balance between supporting the story and overshadowing it. The same can be said of parenting. So when the Wall Street Journal asked us to illustrate a story on “The Overprotected American Child,” we got it. We asked ourselves: how do you depict constrictive parenting?

With a perfectly controlled composition. Each element of the shot was carefully chosen to help tell the story: the head-to-toe bubble-wrap that says “fragile.” The bright pops of red (including a fire hydrant only inches away) that shout “stop” and “safety first.” Even the choice of a rope belt, to convey the idea of “reined in.”

Casting and direction, too, were orchestrated to capture precisely the right glum expression. The result, a human still life: the perfect metaphor for the emotional paralysis that, the article argues, can come with overprotective parenting.

Brooklyn here we come !

Over the last fourteen years, our 39th Street studio was home to many projects and friendships that enriched our lives both professionally and personally. Towards the end of 2017, we felt that it was time to find something new; somewhere where we could really push our limits and dive into a fresh and creative mindset. This led to the discovery of our newest studio here in Greenpoint! From the studio’s serene interior to the vitality of the neighborhood, transitioning from Manhattan to Brooklyn has been unmistakably worthwhile. We’d love for you to join us in celebrating our move, on the 2nd and 3rd of June for Greenpoint Open Studios.

Clockwise from left: cakes at the Adam Deli, the William Vale Hotel, Pie Corps, McGolrick Park, Moe's Doughs, Rayographics.

Clockwise from left: A/D/O, Little Dokebi restaurant, New Windows, Materials for the Arts pickup, New Space, Winter in McGolrick Park.

People, Props and Presents: Delivering the Holidays to Walmart

Walmart’s social media holiday shoot, which highlighted “top gifts” for everyone from “him” and “her” to “techies” and “kids on the go,” showed collaboration at its best. The deadline and difficult shots—suspending the camera 14 feet into the air, for instance—would alone make it a complex shoot. Yet we also had to work hand-in-hand (almost literally) with Walmart clients, Saatchi & Saatchi, a team of prop stylists, and the production company Prodigious—then get shot-by-shot approval from all. But that’s all in a day’s (well, five days’) work.

Making Connections, in the Brain and Behind the Camera

There are at least 100 trillion neural connections in the human brain. Photography can’t capture that. What it can capture is the sense of discovery researchers feel in shedding new light on those connections. Which is precisely what we were asked to convey for Case Western Reserve University’s Think Magazine.

Think Magazine Cover Brain showing x-rayed objects inside

To suggest the brain’s inner workings, we had to make some connections of our own, taking shots of silhouetted figures (what you see with the naked eye) and superimposing x-ray photography to show their inner complexity (what you can’t see). Beyond creating the concept, aligning the x-ray images with the forms that would contain them was an additional challenge, as was eliminating features of the x-rays that didn’t add to the story, like extra backpack compartments. Ultimately, the work itself was a great example of brainpower.

Think BackpackPackpack showing x-rayed objects inside
Think handsx-rays of hands with glowing wires inside

Inspired to create, and commemorate

Photography is our work, but it’s also how we express ourselves. So sometimes, in shooting for a client, we’re also personally inspired, whether to explore new ideas or to share something meaningful to us. Our recent shoot for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles was one of those times.

For their story on the fragile nature of memory, we were asked to depict the brain as the unraveling threads of a cassette tape—which meant sourcing a trove of new and used cassettes. Inspired by the tapes as props, we continued to experiment with them even after the shoot had ended.

But more than that, with the shoot ending so near the anniversary of 9/11, we were moved to make our own statement about memory. Assembling the audio tapes—all made in the U.S.—into the proper dimensions, we used blue and red gel filters to transform them into an American flag, in memory of, and paying tribute to, the sounds and silences on that day in 2001.


A Commercial Shoot with Heart

Sometimes simplicity tells the fullest story. So when Publicis, the agency for Dawn dish soap asked us to help tell the story of Dawn’s role in rescuing animals affected by oil spills, we chose the simplest, most elementally appealing image imaginable: a new duckling, shot in close-up to reveal the softness—and of course, cleanness—of its downy coat.

That single, iconic image evoked sympathy, joy, and in this context, brand affinity. What wasn’t simple? Getting 5-7 day-old ducklings to sit for their portraits. Not only do ducklings like to explore, but they need to be warmed throughout the day, so even working with several animal handlers, the shoot was an all-day exercise in patience and precision.


Popular Photography ?

I had admired Popular Photography long before I thought about becoming a photographer, and was grateful to have been featured twice in this fine publication. I was saddened to learn that this was their last issue.


Capturing the sun within: a winter shoot for Dr. Oz

It was a feature all about how we feel, so it called for photography that spoke vividly to the senses. When The Good Life magazine came to us to illustrate their December 2016 article on combating the “winter blues,” they were looking for a way to uplift with images. To find it, we worked closely with the magazine’s art director on an idea to marry the winter elements with iconic warm weather images, those that suggested energy and positivity.

The result? Images of snowflakes and ice crystals (the perfect signs of winter, but no breeze to shoot) covering colorful objects that innately said “sunshine:” a luscious peach on the tree, a brightly swirling pinwheel, a sunflower in full bloom. In each shot, the warmth within is clearly visible through the cold, capturing the energy and essence of the story it illustrated.


Eat, drink and be active: a holiday shoot for the NFL

Good photography tells a story; even better photography inspires action. Like the shoot we did for the Play 60 Initiative, a holiday partnership between the NFL and the American Dairy Association. Because the goal was to inspire kids to eat well and exercise daily, the images had to be vivid, delicious and motivating, but also active and—to remind kids of where good health can take them—all in the shape of a pro football.

The demands of having to shoot and edit in one day, was an exercise in composition and speed—marrying diverse elements from an avocado to snowflakes, from jump ropes to playfully spilled milk into an irresistible montage.

NFL Play 60Animated GIF shot for NFL Play 60 Program

Sleep to Dream

We recently had the pleasure of working with the creative team at Firstborn, on a six day shoot for Airweave, the maker of the best selling bedding toppers in Japan.

Collaborating with Creative Director, Adam Boyette and Art Director, Camiel Flohr, we shot products and portraits both in the studio and on location with principal dancer, Lauren Lovette of the NY City Ballet, as well as with architect James Ramsey, whose current project is the much-anticipated Lowline underground park in NYC.

Our shoot would not have run so smoothly without the help of the talented make-up artist Agata Smentek, and prop stylist extraordinaire, Terry Lewis.


Pop goes the hoverboard

Fortune Magazine photo editor Armin Harris called on us to create an image for a story about the boom and bust cycle of hoverboards. After a number of companies made cheap copies of the original hoverboard designs, that sometimes burst into flames, they were pulled from the marketplace during the last holiday shopping season. While creating sketches for the story, David relied on an image in his mind of a Roy Lichtenstein comic book inspired painting using Benday dots. He called on model maker, Kellie Murphy to create a large three dimensional painted sign out foam to add to the shots of the hoverboards, adding to the Pop-Art look.


It's all about the Light Festival

We were commissioned by Pace Communications for Southwest Airlines, to create a series of images for a cover story about the new Light City Festival taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. David has experimented with light painting for several previous projects for Comcast, as well as for personal projects, but the scale of this shoot put everything in a new light ! A special thanks to composer and guitarist Kaki King for being part of our shoot. 


You light up my life

To celebrate the winners of the Smithsonian Ingenuity Awards, we were commissioned to create this cover image that recognized a dozen very talented individuals. Thanks to Kellie Murphy, for her "brilliant" model making as well as Molly Roberts, Photo Editor and Maria Keehan, Art Director. A special shout out to NASA for letting us use their drone :)


Lighten Up ( your bag )

We shot this feature story for Dr. Oz, The Good Life Magazine about the risks of overloading your bag. A nice balance of David's still life and x-ray skills.

Prop styling by Mariana Vera of Haley Resources.  

Photo Director - Bruce Perez 

Art Director - Angela Riechers 


Totto Ramen

The studio turned into a kitchen for the Totto Ramen shoot. Drop in one of their four NYC restaurant locations if you have the chance. I'm still craving the pork belly!

Food Stylist - Michaela Hayes

Design Agency - Communication Energy New York, Inc.


On Location with Pitney Bowes

David Arky Photography had the recent pleasure of participating in Pitney Bowes’ promotional efforts towards their newly redesigned company logo.

 A historic company whose roots date back to 1902 when Arthur Pitney first patented his hand-cranked postage-stamping machine, Pitney Bowes has used the same angular logo since 1971. Through a partnership with FutureBrand, the logo was reshaped into a series of concentric circles with the company’s initials neatly folded in the center. With its ripple-like form, the symbol marks a key milestone in the 95-year-old company’s ongoing efforts towards global innovation in the postal industry and beyond. 

 To celebrate this modernization, FutureBrand enlisted David Arky Photography to shoot on-location at their global technology center in Danbury, Connecticut. David and his crew transported most of the studio’s lighting, camera and digital processing equipment along to the shoot, which occurred over several days. 

Some of the main subjects to be photographed were the current models of Pitney Bowes’ digital postage machines. Much like those used by the United States Postal Service to weigh, sort and stamp mail, these machines are the newest models in a long series that originated with the company’s founding. This image showcases the new logo design, which is visible on the machine’s digital monitor: 

We are thrilled to have taken part in the re-branding campaign of this historically significant company, whose products helped shape the United States mail system that is still in use today. For more info on FutureBrand’s design efforts, visit and check out Pitney Bowes’ website to see the new logo in action. 


A Leading Light

Professional photographers and photography students recognize ICP as the International Center for Photography, a renowned institution dedicated to the education, research and exhibition of photographic arts.

Since 2001, David has welcomed ICP students into the studio as part of an immersive course entitled The Fundamentals of Studio Lighting. The ten-session course offers a rich curriculum that showcases photographic lighting as its own vibrant entity. Each class tackles a range of meditative topics relating to the history and application of this essential component of the photographic arts. Taking a holistic approach, the course engages the students in the subject matter on a deeper level than pure technical instruction.

The course commences with a brief insight into the history of lighting and discussion on the transition from available to controlled sources. By discussing lighting techniques through a historical scope, students are able to gain a more robust understanding of the medium while tracing its evolution. Class assignments encourage students to produce works that capture their personal sense of creativity and passion. The students learn to regard every environment as a studio with unique attributes for photographic capture.

For David, one of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching has been the ability to interact with an inspiring range of individuals from different spheres and disciplines. Over the years, the class enrollment has included students with varying levels of experience and often diverse occupations. From full-time students, to working photographers, creative directors, and even doctors and lawyers, the interesting mix of personalities and skill sets has helped shape the course’s goals and aspirations. 

 During a recent class session, ICP photographer Ben Jarosch visited David Arky Photography to take shots of students in the immersive environment of the studio. Below are several images from that shoot:


Luxurious Journeys

A recent spread in Fortune Magazine presented a bevy of fine travel accessories inspired (and in some cases manufactured) by purveyors of luxury automobiles.

Not intended for shallow pockets, these opulent items are pleasing to the eye, though a little out of reach for most. Still, they form an artistically aesthetic collection that can be appreciated by all. The feature’s main image was produced here at David Arky Photography, and shows the various items in a collage-like arrangement, framed by the dark tones of a carbon fiber luggage set from McLaren.

The photo’s palette is a striking coordination of bold and contrasting colors, with cool blues accented by the cherry red interior of the Tod’s for Ferrari driving shoes as well as the Bentley calfskin handbag.

 The lapis-colored laces of the shoes perfectly match the stones and Hermès alligator band of the Parmigiani Bugatti Vitesse watch, the feature’s priciest item at $325,000. 

Check out the article’s online version at for more detailed descriptions of these lavishly beautiful driving accessories.


The Bionic Professor

David has collaborated with Smithsonian Magazine on several projects, the latest being an item on bionic limbs.

Giant Steps” by Matthew Shaer, appears in the November 2014 issue of the magazine and features a series of photo illustrations created by David. The article centers mainly on the life of Hugh Herr, an award-winning MIT academic whose work in biomedical devices has greatly accelerated the field of biomechatronic technology. 

 An amputee since the age of 17, Herr’s disability came as the result of severe frostbite sustained during a mountain climbing expedition. Decades later, he has developed a computerized ankle-foot system called the BiOM, which allows for more natural forward propulsion than any other prosthetic limb. 

 Herr’s personal BiOM units were x-rayed by David for this editorial, as well as Herr himself: 

The color-blocked composition suits both man and machine. The deep blue of Herr’s blazer is razor-sharp against the turquoise backdrop and complements the ghostly x-ray of his BiOM legs. A fiberglass crag joins this top-and-bottom contrast in alluding to Herr’s life, and the mountaineering hobby that has so affected his physiological appearance. 

 A simple side-view x-ray of one of the BiOM units allows readers to view the mechanisms that make this amazing technology function:

It was a privilege to photograph Herr and his invention, which is sure to go down in history for its ingenious contribution to prosthetic technology. For more in-depth information about the BiOM program and its charitable endeavors towards veteran amputees, read the full article at


Test Shot

Though this test shot was originally intended for a different product, the colorful label of this Runa bottle (an organic tea made from guayusa leaves) inspired a new direction for the shoot.

Runa Lime

While lighting the shot, the objects on set seemed to create a dark, theatrical mood that contrasts the final image of an energy-packed beverage splashing towards the viewer.