You Wish You Worked Here: Philly’s Prettiest Photo Studio

Inside the coolest companies with Philly’s most stylish set.


Nell Hoving in her whitewashed Kensington studio. | Photo by Lauren McGrath.

We’re serving up some serious office envy in our new series, You Wish You Worked Here, where we take you inside the city’s most covet-worthy jobs. From fashion-focused careers you didn’t know existed to just plain gorgeous desk setups, take a peek inside
the glam life of Philly’s corporate and creative elite.

If you’re a fan of Shoppist’s print counterpart — the Scout section of Philly Mag — then you’ll probably recognize the work of Nell Hoving, the bubbly, redheaded photographer who shoots some of our prettiest pictures. Hoving’s airy studio, located in a light-filled corner of an old soap factory in Kensington, is a place of inspiration, with whitewashed brick walls, a sprinkling of vintage curiosities and huge windows that wash it all in light.

We spent the day with Hoving shooting our November Covet page (see a sneak peek here!). In between shots, I picked her brain about her “office space,” her on-set uniform, and how to make it as an editorial photographer in Philly. (Oh, and because you’ll want to know, her gorgeous strawberry hair color is natural. Consider us very jealous.) 


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“I’ve been a photographer for the last 10 years. I’m from about two hours away, middle of nowhere farm-town Pennsylvania. This space, it’s my favorite. It’s 1,400 square feet and it has east and west-facing windows, so we always have really great light. This is an old soap factory from the 1900s.”


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“Because it is so open and there is so much light, it just makes me feel good to work here. Plus the whole building is filled with other artists – there’s a couple of other photographers in the building and marketing directors and painters, so it’s a nice artist community. I feel good when I’m in here — clear-headed and able to get things done.


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“I wanted my space to have a Restoration Hardware feel, but without spending the Restoration Hardware price. A lot of the things here are just my thrift store treasures, like the cute silhouettes and the keys on the wall. Even the chandelier, my sister was going to give it away to Goodwill and I snagged it.”


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“I love that quote. My dad always had that hanging in his home office, so when I started my business five years ago, he gifted that to me. That was the first thing I wanted to hang on the wall because it always makes me think of him. He’s an entrepreneur, too.”


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“I’m mostly a product and architectural photographer. I actually shoot everything for Five Below. They’re awesome. I shoot anything from this fun creative stuff to medical devices. I make syringes look really good. And then a lot of building photography, too, which is great because it’s just like a big product, so I like that a lot.”


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“I used to have a studio with a bunch of boys and they’d make fun of me because I was always dressed up so much. I’m normally always in high heels. I think this is the first day I’m not in heels. Usually I’m wearing uncomfortable footwear and little dresses – sometimes they’re probably too short for what I should be wearing when I’m working. On product shoots, it’s usually just jeans and a tank top. For other shoots, I get to get dolled up sometimes, too, which is nice.”


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“I have to have coffee in the morning. I am usually good with one cup, though, and I usually have it black. And I love to eat at Memphis Taproom.”


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“I usually find my vintage stuff in old farm-town areas. But Jinxed is on my Instagram and I look at their stuff all the time.”


Photo by Lauren McGrath.

“I think it’s really just taking the plunge and doing it. I actually read The Alchemist and that was another reason I finally decided just to go for it. It was hard – my first winter, I think I only made, like, $100 in a month. It’s hard but over the years, everything just keeps getting better and better. And knock on wood every single day that it will keep going. I think it’s knowing that you get to do what you love, which is great, but you’re going to be working so hard constantly. And I think connections are everything, too. Making connections and having good people, and surrounding yourself with a good team.”


See more of our You Wish You Worked Here series here: