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James Bond was Scrappy

I love my clients. Every one is different. Every story is different. And I love working with a client to find the way to tell that story.

Justin loves being on-site. Perch Living, Hamilton Heights, still had a few things left to finish, but is now weeks away from opening!

When Synapse Development Group CEO, Justin Palmer, said he didn’t want pro-forma headshots, my heart started to flutter. This is our wheelhouse. Not everyone is at the place when they need or are even ready to tell their story. They will entrust someone else to visually interpret it with authenticity. I approach each client with a little Q&A and am curious to understand what makes them tick. What’s the little thing that will delight you when you look at your final photos?

Project Description. To create a collection of portraits of Synapse Development Group CEO, Justin Palmer. Communicate the story of his scrappy road to success from humble beginnings, thru huge challenges to celebrating his huge successes. To be portrayed thru cinematic and alive feeling portraits and lifestyle images. In combination, they tell your story and individually they portray an authentic side of you.

A few of the Q&As with Justin Palmer

Q. What are 5 adjectives that describe you? A. Energetic, Scrappy, Flexible/Adaptable, Innovative, Passionate

Q. What are a few adjectives to describe your company.? A. Synapse: Aggressive, Execution-Oriented, Unique/Innovative.

Q. What do you want photos to say about you? A. The #1 question I get is: is your family in real estate- because no one understands how we did it so quickly. Nothing was handed to us. There was no silver spoon. …surprising, in a cage fight would outlast you, can take a high level of stress, not worried to lose everything, its a game, don’t value money the way most people do, I value performing on our investments,

Q. Tell me a story that had a huge impact on your life. A. “My mom was awesome. She gave me a base level of confidence to go into uncertain situations and know just by the nature of having a support network, I am going to get thru it. I was a rambunctious kid and she always told me I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard for it. When I was really young, we were in a women’s shelter and then we got on food stamps and we got a rent subsidy and we moved to a subsidized house. And my mom let another women who she met at the shelter, she had been abused, and her son come live with us. I didn’t notice there were 5 people living in a 900 ft apt. My mom always worked really hard.”

Q. How does your company differ in approach to services or philosophy from your competitors? A. We create near 100% Passive housing. We focus on long-term value creation. We take the long term view on everything. Everything is a min of 3-5 year relationships. Do it right, no short-cuts.

Q. What’s the Biggest challenge in getting this image to customers: A. Hard to tell a long-term story. How do you translate the value of long-term to customers.

Next step. Mood board.

JPMood Board
Our Mood Board inspired by his background, design esthetic and personality.

Williamsburg Car Wash / Perch Living

Above /Bottom Right: Williamsburg Car Wash.

Right/Below: Father & Son in front of Perch Living / Inside one of the light-filled apartments.


One of Justin’s first jobs was sanding cars in an auto body shop. A dusty dirty job.

One of his first real estate acquisitions was the Williamsburg Car Wash. They kindly let us shoot in their new location, which speaks highly of how Justin builds relationships

JamesBond GoldFinger

Films are a big inspiration to me. When Justin told me about his first job working in an auto body shop, I visualized him casting off his coveralls. When I visited Perch and saw the ladder up to the roof, I was reminded of this famous scene in Goldfinger. Casting Justin in the role of James Bond seemed like a natural fit as they both are Energetic, Scrappy, Adaptable, Innovative and Passionate.

Justin brings his scrappy work ethic with him in his climb to the top of Manhattan Real Estate. He wants Synapse to leave a mark on New York, bringing passive housing that is good for the environment, the tenants and the investors. A long-term view for an industry that is often looking only to turn a quick profit.

This was a great project to work on. I got a greater understanding and appreciation for Passive Housing and a scrappy work ethic. Justin’s whole family joined us on-site at the soon to be opened Perch Living in Hamilton Heights. It was wonderful to see how excited Justin was to share his world especially his 4-year old son, who is no stranger to the site. We had planned to have a few photos with the whole family at the very end of the shoot at Perch. But in all honesty they were so much fun to photograph, I just couldn’t stop taking their pictures throughout the day as well. A wonderful day for all.

Makeup / Hair: Aina Lee Stylist: Chad Tucker Crew: Tom Donley, Nick Cartucci


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