Debra Prinzing

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Backyard Bliss: prefabricated sheds reviewed

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I’m honored to be the featured “expert” on prefabricated sheds in Dwell magazine’s upcoming February 2009 issue. How cool is that? (In September I wrote about the photo shoot with the very talented Los Angeles-based photographer, Amanda Friedman. . . now it’s finally appearing in print).

I received a sneak preview of the article when associate editor Miyoko Ohtake mailed me a few complimentary copies, which arrived in yesterday’s post. The article is also available online; not on, but on the very cool digital magazine site, Zinio. Even though the hip “prefab issue” isn’t out on the newsstand yet (because the December-January issue is still for sale), you can order it for the $5.99 cover price at Zinio. Check it out.

I love what Miyoko wrote in the Dwell Reports feature titled “Out Back.”

From city slickers to country bumpkins, homeowners have always longed for a special place from which to escape the toils of day-to-day life. In 1783, Marie-Antoinette notoriously commissioned architect Richard Mique to design a Petit Hameau (Little Hamlet) of small buildings on the grounds of Versailles. Feeling the scrutiny of the royal court, Marie and her attendants would run off to the mock farm, dressing up as milkmaids and shepherdesses and pretending to live “normal” peasant lives – which we can only assume involved eating cake.

Nearly 150 years later, British author Virginia Woolf heralded the benefits of a private abode in her 1929 book A Room of One’s Own with its famous phrase “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

A more modern, unisex version of backyard escapism comes in the form of miniature prefabricated outbuildings. “The traditional definition of a shed is a lean-to or stand-alone structure that provides shelter or storage,” says Debra Prinzing, a freelance garden and design writer and our expert reviewer this month. “I tried to come up with a contemporary definition: a space that contains whatever you’re passionate about.”


Oh, it’s different when you’re in front of the lens

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

One of Amanda’s Polaroids from tonight’s photo shoot

I’m used to standing just slightly behind and a smidgen to the right or left of the photographer. That’s my comfort zone, where I can quickly hop in and peer through the lens to check out the composition of a shot, see how it’s framed, look for wayward electrical cords to hide or crooked picture frames to adjust.

I’ve been taught well over the years, working with talented shooters including Bill Wright, Andrew Drake, Mike Jensen and all those clever newspaper photojournalists (well, to be honest, newspaper guys rarely allow me look through the lens, but I do try to make suggestions!) 

So tonight the table was turned. And the lens was on me. Oh, for only 100-plus frames or so! And thanks to the very talented Los Angeles-based Amanda Friedman (seen above), it was painless. Actually, it was quite fun!