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Photographers Reflect on 40 Years of Photography for This Old House

Former This Old House Director of Photography, Denise Sfraga, curated these highlights from TOH photographers over the years

Anthony Tieuli

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

I found this amazing polaroid behind a rotted out piece of baseboard moulding in the Roxbury project house. I think it was either 2009 or 2010. I was there to photograph the “before” condition of the house, just before the crews got in and got to work.

I’ve been unbelievably lucky enough to be shooting for This Old House throughout my entire career so far, and many of my best memories as a photographer have been on assignment for them. I think the one that shines brightest in my mind though, was this “before” shoot at the Roxbury house. My assistant and I spent the entire day with our jaws dropped to the floor in wonder, just trying to take in the dilapidated state of the house. I remember tingling with excitement at the chance I’d been given to shoot here.

Finding the polaroid tucked in behind the baseboard midway through the day was actually a very emotional moment for me. Seeing this family, who seems to have been so happy here (in what I can only assume was the 1980s), put a lot into perspective for me about what This Old House truly does. This husk of a building was, at one time, a warm and loving home for at least one, and probably many families. I remember being excited to think that it soon would be again! I left this polaroid right here on the window sill for the TOH crew to find and add to their treasure archive. I wanted so much to take it with me. I hope it found a good home somewhere... @anthonytieuli

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

This photograph appeared on our September 2015 cover. Deborah says, "I do remember that for such a small space, there were so many shots to be taken! We spent a whole day on it. It was kind of like photographing a super model-every angle was perfect!" @deborahllewellyn

Mark Weiss

Photo by Mark Weiss

This environmentally friendly insulation appeared in the November 2005 issue of TOH.

Michael Grimm

Photo by Michael Grimm

Michael Grimm shot these images in a slate quarry somewhere in Pennsylvania (shot on 4x5 Polaroid film!). The story about slate ran in the Jan/Feb 1997 issue and this image was one outtake.

The images remind me of how beautiful and different photos shot on film can look like, especially 4x5 polaroid which I used a lot back then. There just is a quality to them that is different than digital and they look great, even after all these years. It also reminds me of how supportive TOH was of experimenting and shooting extra images. @michaelgrimmphoto

Matthew Benson

Photo by Matthew Benson

Cover, June 1998

This story was about the art of painting woodwork. It featured John Dee painting a door and a gatefold cover which opened to the finished painted door. @matthewbensonfoto

Victor Schrager

Photo by Victor Schrager

I live in an old house, and to be able to celebrate all the old, um, stuff that’s always lying around, with Denise’s cheerful guidance, was always great fun. Thanks! @victorschrager

Webb Chappell

Photo by Webb Chappell

This undated early photo of Roger working along the shore is a bit of a mystery, but we are fond of it all the same. @webbchappell

Ted Morrison

Photo by Ted Morrison

This image was shot in 2008 for our ASK opener, and shortly after, won an American Photography award in 2009. @tedmorrisonstudio

Russell Kaye

Photo by Russell Kaye

Russell Kaye constructed a collage of photos of the Carlisle house shot in 2000. The connecting house between the main house and the barn was demoed and it was one of my very first days working on a TOH show house. Russ had just stopped directing and David Vos was beginning his time in the director seat. I learned a lot from this assignment.

Jeremiah Eck was the architect and we were also renovating a connected farmhouse in Rockport and I borrowed a few ideas about how to modernize the layout of the 1850 farmhouse for my family. @russellkaye

Andre Baranowski

Photo by Andre Baranowski

I have photographed many assignments for TOH, and on every one of them I have learned something useful.

Here is a cover that I photographed for the July/August issue in 1999. It was 20 years ago and TOH was 20 as well. I shot a beautiful library in Massachusetts belonging to Lisa Ekus and built by a local craftsmen. The weather was lousy, and I used a big Mamiya RZ6x7 camera and Fuji film. It was total fun and I learned a lot about carpentry.

Now I use mostly digital cameras smaller and lighter—so much better for my back—and my new book Garden Wild was just released to great press reviews by Rizzoli in New York. Happy 40th Birthday TOH. @andrebaranowski9

Carl Tremblay

Photo by Carl Tremblay

This was an assignment to photograph the TOH cast with Mike Rowe for the Generation Next initiative in 2016. I asked the photographer to also photograph each cast member individually and Mike Rowe photobombed a few of Tommy’s photos. @carltremblaydotcom

Kindra Clineff

Photo by Kindra Clineff

My assignment was to photograph Kevin O’Connor when he first joined the cast in 2003. This photo appeared in the Oct. 2003 issue in a story about Kevin going through “boot camp” called One of the Guys. @kindraphoto

Keller & Keller

Photo by Keller + Keller

Here is an outtake of Norm (see Sept/Oct 40th anniversary Norm Abram cover) showing behind the scenes at the Watertown Project. @joekeller