Good Work — Capturing the Spirit

This is the latest installment in our series featuring outstanding professionals we are fortunate to work with on a regular basis.

Marisa Pellegrini

Marisa Pellegrini, a professional photographer based in Fort Lee, has been lending her expertise to Design NJ since our very first issue back in Spring 2001. When we send Marisa out on assignment, we know she will capture not only the beauty of a home but also its spirit.

Marisa’s interest in photography was sparked at age 11 when her parents gave her a Kodak Instamatic in preparation for a trip to Italy. “I loved it from the start,” she recalls. She practiced throughout her high school years and then decided on a four-year course of study at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She graduated with a portfolio of transparencies and went on to serve as an assistant to more senior still-life photographers, she says. “People would ask why I didn’t go out on my own, and eventually I did.” Much of her work at the time involved food photography, including packaging for major food companies, cookbooks, and magazines that appreciated her ability to style the food as well as photograph it. “You had to sit around all day waiting for the food to be prepared” she says, “then you had to snap into action and shoot it before it wilted or melted. It was a lot of fun!”

One of the treats of working with Marisa is guessing which pair of eyeglass frames she’ll wear that day. Her collection now numbers 12. The ever-changing eyewear has become such a signature look that the back of her business card shows her in six frames.

Gastronomy has always played a big role in Marisa’s life. “From the day I was born it was all about food,” the svelte photographer says, recalling family times around the table. Working closely with chefs enhanced her appreciation of well-prepared food and, today, she has built up an encyclopedic knowledge of the best places to eat. She even passed that appreciation on to her son, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration while launching a career in the culinary field.

Marisa’s transition from still life photography to architectural photography centers on renowned designer Anthony Antine, who was based in Fort Lee and whose secretary was none other than Marisa’s mother. Antine spoke with Marisa about photographing his own home, and when she expressed some reservations because her background was in still-life photography, “he said interior photography is just like a big still life,” she recalls. “I started to shoot a lot of his projects and found that capturing interiors on film was just as fun as food.” She adds with a laugh, “I guess I like to shoot things that don’t talk back—food, interiors …”

When Design NJ was about to launch, Mary Vinnedge, the magazine’s first editor, visited Antine, and he connected her with Marisa just in time for her to be included in the inaugural issue. The second issue, Summer 2001, was Marisa’s first cover story for Design NJ. Her most recent cover was the December 2017/January 2018 issue. One of her most memorable photo shoots was of celebrity Michael Strahan’s home in Montclair in 2004. Asked to name a favorite: “They’re all my favorites. I see something interesting every time I walk into a home.”

Marisa’s first cover for Design NJ (Summer 2001, an Englewood home designed by Beth Chanin of Englewood). Her most recent cover was the December 2017/January 2018 issue (a Morris County home designed by Tere Bresin of Beret Design Group in Upper Montclair.)

Her photographic talents extend beyond still life and architectural projects. She and her husband, Joe Peoples, also operate DancePix, an on-site photography company serving the dance community.

Visit Marisa’s website to see more of her work.