In this image driven world, I once half jokingly said (only half, mind you) that the images of my jewelry are more valuable than the jewelry itself. My designs are contemporary and, never being in fashion, they never go out of fashion. So understandably I'm heavily invested in evergreen image content that's used for different applications on different marketing platforms and are "editor ready."
Steve Pelosi was one of the first people I met when I moved to Atlanta as a film producer.
In addition to shooting table top, product and food, he was shooting commercials at the time
and I had the opportunity to work on a few shoots with him. Fast forward many moons, our paths crossed again and we picked up where we left off. Only this time around he's shooting glorious portraits in black and white and though I'm no longer in the film business, I'm working in another collaborative art form: fine jewelry. Immediately, we knew that the universe was conspiring for us!
Both delicious and ranging from the most simple sustenance to lavish feasts that are occasions all their own. Arguably, both are innately beautiful. Adjectives that work for one will work for the other. And both lend themselves to an atmospheric treatment.
Pearls, like people, prefer a big soft light. . . like an overcast sky.
Diamonds a little fussier. And high polished metals offer reflective surfaces that become design elements all their own.
Steve is able to create images that feel effortless. The chain that gracefully puddles, the languid drape of pearls, the insouciant diamond brooch perched in a messy updo.
I quickly learned the worst description possible: "overworked." Which is the equivalent of "trying too hard," the antithesis of cool. And cool, he gets. His love of photography began covering the music scenes in San Francisco and Oakland. He then formally studied his craft at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena CA . His career began in earnest in LA and then in the early eighties he moved to his new favorite city in the whole wide world, Atlanta GA.
I'm often asked for suggestions on how to choose a photographer. There's no one size fits all and there are definitely people you shouldn't work with as much as there are those with whom you should. One person's "high energy" is another's "obnoxious." "Experimental" might make you very very nervous. Or happy. So take your time and talk to more than one photographer.
1. Know thyself. I personally am motivated by rolling up my sleeves and doing as much behind the scenes work as possible to add to the production value of the shoot. I truly enjoy being hands on. However, there are deadlines, finite resources, limited abilities (namely, my own) and people who do things a whole lot better than me. Another perspective, another set of eyes, another set of hands. . .
Tailoring a collaboration that complements your strengths and weaknesses usually results in stronger imagery. And know that you'll get better and better with each shoot that you do.
2. Know thy objectives. Are you building an image library of your work where consistency is key? Or are you working on an image for advertising in a print magazine? Are you working on images for a website that need to tell your story? What images can and cannot be multi-use? How important is this to you?
3. Know thy photographer. Professionals will have portfolios on-line. Look for overarching themes in lighting and composition that make up his/her aesthetic, Not so much a specific shot of jewelry, but a way of seeing. If the artichoke is gorgeous on a cutting board, chances are quite good your ring will be beautiful propped on a surface.
Ask questions. Lots: Is it natural light? Did he use a stylist? How long did a particular shot take to set up? If the shoe were on the other foot, he/she would have questions about your materials, techniques and expertise. And face it, we all love to talk about our crafts.
4. Keep it simple. The more moving parts the more critical organization becomes. Will the shoot consist of just you and the photographer? Or will there be hair, make-up and wardrobe on the set? Needless to say, the jewelry should be cleaned, polished and ready for its close-up!
And it seems appropriate to add that if a photographer's budget seems too good to be true it probably is. It's not gonna end well. Trust me on that one. That said, a high bid does not guarantee a good experience nor a low bid a bad end product.
Lastly, have fun.
It's hard work and with a little luck it won't feel that way.
Chris Gyoury, an English director I was privileged to work with on many occasions said that the actual shoot days were like having a party with your very best friends. He was right. Pre-production can be grueling and is probably the most critical part because the more prepared you are, the more likely that magical things will happen on the shoot.
You can contact Steve directly through www.pelosiphoto.com or on Facebook where you are bound to find pictures of his beloved Dellie: muse and photo assistant-studio dog extraordinaire.
Now go have that peanut butter cookie. You know you want one.
Full disclosure: We have been working together for many years. At some point, it became obvious to us both that I should represent him to other jewelers, manufacturers and agencies. for a commission.
If you have questions specifically relating to photographing jewelry, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Naturally, I have a lot more to say. But I'm really good at listening too.