Thursday, July 26, 2012

For the past several months, Marco Tomaschett, the coordinator of the new Fine and Vintage Writing Instruments Department at Swann Auction Galleries, and I have been assembling and cataloging our inaugural sale of fine and vintage writing instruments.  With that complete, now comes the fun part, creating the visuals and assembling the sale as presented in the online and paper catalogues.

We thought that you might like to see at least part of that process as we photographed the pens in our New York galleries during the third week of July.  The photography was done by Brilliant Graphics, the photographer Peter Philbin, assisted by Pete and Christa, whose surnames I did not get. Thos involved from Swann were me, department coordinator Marco Tomaschett and art director Bette Rothstein. 

For me, since I photograph pens for my own website, it was fascinating to see how the pros work, using lighting and shadow so carefully and the extent to which post production processing is part of the process. So here goes.

 This is the studio that Brilliant set up in our downstairs gallery.  It looks primitive, but I would learn that it's all in the skill of the photographers
Marco and Bette conferring over the "book" of shots to be styled.

Here is some of the property as we began to stage it.
 Christa and Pete quickly set up staging for the production shots that will be the main illustration for the catalogue.
 One still uses cameras, this the industry standard for this kind of work, a digital Hasselblad. Much of the work is done, however, in the computer.

The computer allows the photographers to instantly check their work on a large screen and then correct images.  This was less important for the production shots which were a matter of placing and shooting than the styled shots that came afterward.

In this sequence,  Marco  sets up a shot, we all at various times had visions of what we wanted use to illustrate various pens and set up shots which others might then modify. Here Marco wanted to see two of the azurite Montblancs staged against a medieval illuminated manuscript.
This is how the shot turned out.

Below, Peter, Christa and Pete analyse and correct.

 The three pens above, a Chilton Clown, a Montblanc Semiramis and an Aurora Etiopia were all contenders for the cover and would be included in various of the style shots.

In truth, the process takes time and oftenwe were standing and sitting around.  Pet and Christa, being the artists they are, found some creative use for the mounting putty we used to hold pens and props in place.
 These are just a couple of my favorite shots, those which I designed, of course.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post now I noted 3 important things you can learn from a pet

Randon82 said...

Nice to see how a pro sets up these shots--it would never have occurred to me to use putty--I usually just try not to breathe once I have the pen in place.

Did the photographers come with a selection of backgrounds like the manuscript, or did they find them afterwards after reviewing the pens?