Elegant People, Beautiful Environments
In the past 20 years, Eric Striffler has established an impressive photographic career, shooting lifestyle, fashion, and interiors in the Hamptons, New York City, Miami, and the Caribbean. His clients have included Ralph Lauren Footwear, Badgley Mischka, John Varvatos, Natori, and Intercontinental Hotels; his images have appeared in Town
& Country, New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and House Beautiful, among many other publications. In 2010 Striffler collaborated with socialite Jamee Gregory on the book New York Parties: Private Views (Rizzoli), an insider’s look into the private gatherings of New York’s most renowned hosts.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Striffler has lived in the East End since the age of eight, first in Southampton, then Water Mill and Sag Harbor, before returning to Southampton where he’s currently based. We recently caught up with the yoga/biking/snowboarding/scuba diving enthusiast between photo shoots.
My mom was an amateur photographer and I grew up around photography and photo books. I was never pushed into it; in fact, it was the opposite. I think my parents wanted me to have more of a tried-and-true career like a doctor or lawyer. I always loved looking at photographs and later in college, after taking a few photography classes and seeing images come up on the paper in the darkroom, I was hooked.
What is your favorite subject to photograph and why?
That’s a tough one, as I love shooting so many subjects. I suppose my favorite subject would be shooting people – fashion and swimsuit – in beautiful outdoor environments, especially the beach or the mountains. Again, going back to when I was growing up, I was constantly leafing through photography books from the greats such as Avedon, Penn, Newton, and Scavullo. I would stare at those coffee table books for hours, almost mesmerized by them, especially the images of beautiful, well-styled women set against stunning backdrops, whether it was in the country or a cityscape. I would eventually try to create those images myself and immediately realized how challenging it was.
A lot of your work depicts the beach and the ocean. Why do you think you’re drawn to those areas?
I’ve always loved the beach and ocean; it has always felt healing and soothing. I’m not the only one, so there must be a magic of the ocean that draws so many people to it. It has always felt tranquil yet invigorating. I’ve never left the beach sad.
Describe one of your favorite shoots. What made it great?
One of my favorite shoots was a job for the Intercontinental Hotel in San Juan. I love to travel and I love shooting for resorts and large hotels as usually I get to shoot a number of my favorite genres of photography: interiors, lifestyle, food, and environmental details. When I travel, I always feel a shot in the arm and see everything fresh and new. The Puerto Rico trip was especially great as the weather was so amazing; one of the models I shot was a friend of mine, and we had tons of fun at night.
How would you describe your style?
Good question. I feel I’m still working on my style, and in fact I need to fine-tune it much more! In simple terms, I’d say my style is sexy, intimate, and compelling.
How did the “New York Parties” book with Jamee Gregory come about?
I had been working with Jamee on some of her garden articles and we hit it off; she got to know the caliber and broad range of my work. We did a test shoot at a party she hosted in Southampton and the photos came out great, so she and the publisher asked me to shoot the entire project. It was a great experience and I met so many great people including Michael Kors and Tory Burch. I’m eager to do another one.
What are you working on currently?
I’m working on a few things, one of which is an ongoing project shooting people doing beautiful, complex yoga poses in stunning Hamptons backdrops. I’m also slowly getting back into my fine art photography including landscapes, abstract, and the “Black and White Girls in Sand” series.
Is there any place you’d love to photograph that you haven’t yet?
I have a huge list: Antarctica, Australia, Thailand, Russia, China, Cuba, Morocco. There are so many places I’d like to visit and capture.
Any advice for a budding photographer who would like a career similar to yours?
I’d say work hard at a day job and in your spare time, work on your craft and start investing in equipment. But of course, the equipment is secondary. I’d also suggest, as I did, to start thumbing through as many photography books and websites and Instagram pages as you can find and start earmarking ones you like and find out why you like those subjects and photos, and then decide if you want to start shooting that actual material.
You obviously love what you do, but is there any other occupation you’d like to try?
Formula One race car driver, rock musician, or actor.