Top of Aspen Mountain.

Top of Aspen Mountain.

Few of us have the opportunity to get an extended, windowless aerial perspective on the world, to hover above its cacophony and bustle and, released from that ceaseless din, perceive the patterns and beauty the singular perspective of being aloft can offer. Los Angeles photographer Gray Malin, however, succeeds in both perceiving and capturing these uncommon, charming, and colorful perspectives on park loungers, beach lovers, ski disciples, city dwellers, and single swimmers. He does all this from the cockpit of a roving helicopter, no less. (sidenote: there are loads and loads of fun shots of his feet dangling from the door of a moving helicopter.)

Gray's high-contrast, vibrant photographs reflecting the unique beauty of New York, Australia, Bolivia, Italy, Greece, Namibia, Cape Town, Antarctica and then some, adorn the walls of countless designers and photography bon vivants (and his best-selling images are emblazoned on beach towels and umbrellas, bikinis, aprons, and Iphone cases, lest you prefer Gray Malin photos-to-go). 

We first stumbled upon his photography several months ago while attending an animal rescue gala here in Los Angeles, where one of Gray's photos was up for auction. We quickly joined his awe-inspiring Instagram following of 149,000 fans and are beyond thrilled he was willing to be featured in our Lily Spindle SHAPERS series!

xx - Rebecca + Deb

Your photography vibrates with color, joy, and life, whether it’s capturing the populous of Aspen mountain skiers or the understated humor in a pair of llamas adorned with balloons. Is your attitude relatively joyful when you’re capturing these images? And when you look at them later, framed and hung in new and different environs, what emotions do they conjure for you?

I definitely aspire to create artwork that evokes joy, so it’s accurate to say that my attitude while shooting is positive. I love seeing the work in it’s intended home, the walls of one’s home, so it’s always a happy moment to see it truly come to life in client’s homes.

Gray Malin + Stella, his beloved rescue dog.

Gray Malin + Stella, his beloved rescue dog.

You and your husband have a dog (of course). Can you tell us a bit about how she came to you - how old, name, et cetera? Is she a fabulous model for your photos?

We adopted Stella about 5 years ago, and she has been brought nothing but happiness to our home. And, yes! She’s a great little model. We’ve worked together a few times..haha!

Central Park Lawn. 

Central Park Lawn. 

Maroubra Bay Swimmers.

Maroubra Bay Swimmers.

Who are your three favorite photographers and could you describe each of their bodies of work using two adjectives for each?

1) Slim Aarons - Classic & Luxury

2) Cristo and Jeanne-Claude - Forward thinking and structural

3) David LaChapelle - Editorial Fine Art

If you could have breakfast with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? And what would you order?

I’d love to meet Martha Stewart.  We’d share something delicious inspired by one of her recipes, perhaps a quiche and talk decor and entrepreneurship.

Carry-on Cocktail Sprinkle Kit? Get one  here .

Carry-on Cocktail Sprinkle Kit? Get one here.

Velvet or Mohair? Stripes or Polka Dots?
Velvet. Stripes.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Is there such a thing as a late morning person? I’d have to say I’m a bit more of a morning person, as I love to get in exercise before hitting the ground running for the work day.

What's currently on your bedside table?

A yummy smelling candle I got from Collette in Paris, while I was there for an event last spring.

What would we be surprised to know about your design proclivities?

Not sure if it’s much of a surprise, but I love fresh flowers. Whenever possible, I like to incorporate into decorating as they just add that extra pop of color and softness to a room.

Hamptons Lone Swimmer.

Hamptons Lone Swimmer.

La Dolce Vita; Positano.

La Dolce Vita; Positano.

Lily Spindle’s SHAPERS profiles the people whom we consider to be remarkable movers and shakers, doers and dreamers, trailblazers and big thinkers, the people who are doing things a little bit differently and unconventionally, with immense heart, passion, and authenticity in what they do. Artists, designers, writers, philanthropists, iconoclasts, artisans, heroines, voyagers, and all kinds of extraordinary extraordinaires will be interviewed in our SHAPERS series. Enjoy!

Funky Cold Fontana Medina. OR, meet me near the Fountain of Neptune.

When walking through Italy, it's easy to get lost in the resplendence of its centuries' old architecture and romantic, sinuous alleyways, occasionally leaping out of harm's way as taxis and scooters roar through the streets and honk at you with impassioned fury. We got lost a few times. A bit turned around. Somewhat befuddled, a twinge fuzzy as to where we'd been and where we were going. But it was a glorious kind of being astray. And there was never a place or moment where we couldn't find a delicious cafe or restaurant to pop into for food and drink unlike any other we've enjoyed.

*By the way, here are a few "on the house" (pun intended) "dining in Italy" tips:
#1 - Avoid any place with a host out front inviting you in.
#2 - Avoid any place with an enormous menu depicting the dishes in large, unappealing imagery.
#3 - Don't sit your butt down at an Italian cafe when you're sipping that cappuccino. A "standing cappuccino" has a set price, but sitting a table can double, sometimes triple the cost. Italians call cafes "bars" for a reason. It's guzzle and go, baby.

One of the many sunny afternoons of our Italy meandering found us eating cacio e pepe and drinking Peroni at a restaurant around the corner from the Castel Nuovo (also known in Naples as Maschio Angioino). Next door to the restaurant was a tiny artist's studio, with hundreds of paintings stacked atop one another, some of them copies of famous Renaissance paintings, others copies of erotic Pompeiian paintings labeled "obscene" and relegated to the Gabinetto Segreto. But many, many others were her own. Tiny landscapes and seascapes, with a smoking Vesuvius in the background, and miniature people toiling away in the foreground. Something about her enormous, generous smile, her incredibly prolific creative output, her inability to speak any English, her enabling of our collective desire to dig through the layers of leaning paintings, all combined, made us incapable of leaving without snatching up a handful of her tiny oil works of art. They're currently being framed and will be up on the Lily Spindle site very soon for you to purchase. By the way, they retail for less than $60 each. How's that for a super steal? Email me at if you'd like to lay claim before anyone else!

the Lily Spindle ladies


MANA at the Villa Di Donato

On the night of May 28th, “The Artists of the Film MANA” took over a 17th century villa in Naples, otherwise known as the Villa Di Donato. This MANA exhibition, a collaborative effort between ART1307 (AKA Cynthia and Renato Penna) and Lancaster Museum of Art and History (AKA Andi Campognone), with the ingenuity and aid of Naples’ Chiara Reale and Rome-based curator Roberta Serpolli, featured the works of the following MANA film artists: Craig Skibs Barker, Casper Brindle, Ben Brough, Alex Couwenberg, Ned Evans, Steve Fuchs, Eric Johnson, David Lloyd, and Ken Pagliaro -- the last seven listed were in attendance at the villa’s opening reception and were hit up for multiple on-the-spot interviews with Italian reporters and had individual tete-a-tetes with the Consulate of U.S. Consul of Politics and Economic Affairs.

The Lily Spindle ladies (and our dashing husbands) got a private tour of the spectacular villa by its owner, a man of few words, in part because his prowess in communicating in English is pretty comparable to ours in speaking Italian. He proudly informed us that 40 guests had enjoyed Christmas dinner there last year and I immediately imagined how glorious this place would look adorned with holiday trimmings, aglow with strings of twinkling lights and candles flickering on a massive dining table. It’s an absolutely gorgeous space. And an ingenious, fun, and unusual environment in which to see bright, contemporary, California-forged art made by the MANA men.

Our apologies for the excessive photos of the opening reception but there were too many shots to choose from! Photo credit goes to Ken Pagliaro, Eric Johnson, Ben Brough, Andi Campognone, and more than a few snaps by Lily Spindle.

*Here’s one of several stories in the Naples papers covering the MANA night in Naples . . .


Okay, so the famous Roman amphitheatre doesn't actually need a makeover from Lily Spindle. It's been doing fine (with several archaelogical excavations and transformations from the 16th to the 19th centuries) since its inception in A.D. 80, whereupon it commingled reality and illusion, cinema and cruelty, storytelling and slaughter for five centuries. But being in this labyrinthine structure, imagining where 50,000 Romans sat to witness reenactments meant to honor and extol the Roman empire (and thusly kill some thousands of bear, ostriches, lions, giraffes, hippos, elk, and cranes, among others), was pretty overwhelming. The architecture is awe-inspiring and mind-boggling in its intricacy and you can feel the history of the place underneath your feet. Even with all those sweaty tourists surrounding you and the ubiquitous "selfie stick" being utilized at every turn.

We were lucky enough to spend the last couple of weeks in Rome, Naples, and Capri, with a day trip to Sorrento. Our escapades involved art, shopping, and, of course, eating until we could barely stand ourselves. But hey, that's what Italy's all about, right? We'll be sharing some shots from our two-week sojourn in the next handful of blog posts, so stay tuned! Ciao!