Big Book of Small Cool Spaces Photographer, Jim Franco

Big Book of Small Cool Spaces Photographer, Jim Franco

Gregory Han
Apr 5, 2012

Jim Franco is an interiors and lifestyle photographer (he's the man behind the lens of Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small Cool Spaces) who also paints and makes surfaces for the prop-rental house he co-owns. And that means that his work space spreads out between two studios and the prop house itself.

One studio contains his office upstairs, which allows him to shoot downstairs. The second gives him room not only to photograph, but also to drag out his saws, sanders, paint, and plaster to craft the prop surfaces. "My work spaces are either super neat or very messy," he explains. Get a glimpse at the tidy side of his life and take as a listen to the music mix playing throughout his day.

One of our favorite photos in Jim Franco's portfolio. He's photographed for Conde Nast Traveler, Southern Living, Coastal Living, People Magazine, and Sunset Magazine.

What do you listen to while you work? It depends on what I am doing at the moment. If I am in the studio, I usually start with R&B or bossa nova. Bossa nova seems like the perfect sound to ease into the day. And for practical purposes, it is just there and enjoyable without having to hit you over the head with its presence. But usually I end up back at the R&B vault. Lately, toward the end of the day, I have found myself tuning into jazz-inspired electronica artists like Shigeto and Shlohmo.

If I am in the workshop using sanders and saws, I put on reggae or jazz vocalists from the 50s and 60s. Especially Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Even when what I am doing is super noisy, I can still hear the music.

How do you listen? I should be a sales rep for the Bose Companion system. We have four of these. They are great for hooking up to your iPod or iPhone and also streaming Pandora or We use these while shooting or making surfaces.

At my desk I use Sony headphones (that I had bought to use for recording sound for video, but ended up mostly using to listen to music) and my iMac or just the iMac.

Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? We jump back and forth from Pandora and Maybe a bit more lately with Pandora.

Where do you find music recommendations? Mostly online. I'll spend time going through the iTunes store and one thing leads to another. I also tune into NPR and Soundcheck. And of course there's nothing like having an assistant or client plug in their iPhone or iPod to get a whole new outlook on music.

What song or artist best represents the work you create? I would say it is a toss up between Sergio Mendes and Stevie Wonder. The song "So Nice" from Sergio Mendes and Brasil '65 is fantastic as it straddles jazz and pop and has an amazing vocalist in Lani Hall -- not from Rio, but from Chicago! And "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" from Innervisions by Stevie Wonder is an all-time favorite and Latin-soul inflected. Upbeat and beautiful.

Ideal place to sit and listen to your playlist: The Eames Aluminum Group Management Chair in black. I'm all about fun and function, plus beauty ranks pretty high on my list of things to have.


  1. Mais Que Nada, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66
  2. He’s Misstra Know-It-All, Stevie Wonder
  3. Got to Give It Up, Marvin Gaye
  4. Love T.K.O., Teddy Pendergrass
  5. Soaring, Shigeto
  6. The Look of Love, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66
  7. Let’s Stay Together, Al Green
  8. Didn’t Cha Know, Erykah Badu
  9. Sumthin’ Sumthin’, Maxwell
  10. Places, Shlomo

Photos: Jim Franco

lifework2012-02-22 at 2.10.00 PM.jpgRepublished in partnership with Lifework
By Amy Feezor

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