If there was one thing about this project that stood above all else it would be the importance of art direction.
When Edwin and Charlie, the owners of D’Alambert, called me in April they explained they were a luxury men’s wallet company that was expanding their line from one to four wallets. Up until now, all their photography was done in house and they thought it was time to up their game.
When I asked what they were looking for, they had a good idea of budget and how many images to expect. However, they had little in terms of art direction. Edwin told me they liked my dark and moodier images and thought having the wallets within an environment propped with “contemporary” artifacts would work. I asked if they had any image examples, other then mine; they did not.
I explained that I could write a proposal based on this, however, regardless of whom they went with, it would be best to screen capture any ads they saw that they liked and save them. After two weeks, they would have a good idea of what they liked and inspiration for the shoot.
Two weeks later I was awarded the project and given a folder of inspiration. Turns out they really liked brighter images with abstract geometric backgrounds, a complete 180. They also told me they were going to Spain at the end of May to look over production and may have samples when they return. If that was the case, they asked could the wallets be photographed mid-June? I said of course, and started searching for a prop stylist.
For a stylist, I choose Liz Engelhardt, represented by Big Leo in Brooklyn, who has 20 years experience and a portfolio that related to the project. Immediately we started to review inventories at prop houses in NYC to see what we could rent, and classified the various risers into two categories, modern and rustic. We created two separate galleries of risers for Edwin & Charley to review and a third gallery with different image compositions (overheads, three quarter angles, direct on, etc.).
By the time these galleries were sent, Edwin and Charley just arrived in Spain and informed us they would have wallets to bring back. The shoot was schedule for mid-June and they gave us their opinions on the galleries. They were drawn to the overhead and three quarter angles and preferred the Venetian plaster and stone risers.
On the Saturday after they got back, we spent two hours on the phone finalizing the art direction. We decided what to rent, to also use paper as a design element, and roughed out general compositions. We all left that call with a good deal of confidence and ease.
Next Friday, the shoot went very smoothly. I handled the lighting and exposure while Liz, and her intern, dealt with the propping. Also, to my delight, Edwin and Charley were very active clients, remaining close to set, giving direction and helping with product & prop placement.
Below are the images we ended with along with a short behinds the scenes video to the right.