Thursday, March 31, 2011

I'm Sari, So Sari.

Julie, my lovely niece ,who is two years older than me (I had to add that),  gave me a blanket made from vintage Sari fabric for my birthday last October.  The blankets are made in India by a womans collective.  Since I received that gift I have purchased five more!  Mostly, because they are soft, beautiful and unique.  Maybe not so unique now because I have been seeing them in more stores and in a recent Elle Decor, UK magazine.  Regardless, these said blankets were the first inspiration for one of the rooms I styled for the test shoot with Michael Bennett. 

We just completed our weekend of photo fun and are pleased with the results.  Funny... we both were somewhat amazed at how well it all went.  We make a good team.  No surprise, now, since we have worked together on photo shoots for Pottery Barn these last four years...  I guess you could say we know what we are doing.  Ha!

For our shoot the idea was to do two rooms in one space to show the versatility of the dark walls. This room which I call the "Sari room" is colorful, dark, moody and warmly decadent.  My idea was to have bright colors as a contrast to the darkness of Julies apartment.  A yellow headboard, red side table and the colorful blankets strewn accross the bed.  The combinaton of art work, by my friend Javier, added more color.  Michael and I decided that we liked the room dark, as you will see from this shot.  Although, there is a nice glow from the vintage glass globes (that Brian and I wired with salvaged parts) and the sun shining through the window. 

The combination of the pieces I looted from my apartment and purchased on my various excursions around the country fit in the room nicely.  One of my favorite additions is the statue of Quan Yin, the goddess of compassion, sitting on the bedside.  As my friend, Annie, said "you can always use a little compassion in the bedroom"! 

It is amazing how things come together when you have a vision.  These last few months of prepping and collecting I would sometimes be standing, staring off into the void thinking and then I would have a new idea... or I would see something in my house like it was for the first time.  "Yes!  That will work perfect".  I have learned from all of my stylist friends that it is most important to be prepared. 

Besides the bedroom shots we did some still lifes.  It was fun to have the opportunity to play around with props and create little scenes.  We liked how the dark walls and Michaels lighting created an almost oil painting look to the stills.

These photos are from the first day of the first Bennett-Hartmann collaboration.  Soon to follow will be the second room and more still lifes.  Already ideas are brewing to work on other photo projects and even pull in more people to style with us.  Good times. 

A big THANKS to all that helped make this photo shoot possible.  There was much moral support, of course, but also collaborators and handy-people.   A special mention to Mario De Palma, Marina Avila, Nick Wagner, Jonathan Adkins, Jonathan Evans, Kristina Beltran, Debbie Sciales, Ken Gutmaker and most of all Julie Elliott for letting us invade her apartment and Michael Bennett for his vision and skilled lighting. 

Lastly, thank you Billy for the nice note that plainly said "follow your instincts".  Love you all.

For Sari blankets go to Baksheesh in St Helena and Sonoma, or International Orange in San Francisco.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gathering props and ideas

What is a prop?  A funny question to some but for those who don't know about any kind of styling whether it be interior design, movies, theater or editorial... well, what is it?  My definition would be:  a prop is an object used in an environment to create a specific look or style.

For the Pottery Barn photo shoots, that I work on, the stylist is given an "inspiration" guideline.  They then collect props to create the environments to reflect the inspiration and the season.  The best part is that they get to go shopping!  There are so many great resources all over the country.  Besides home furnishing stores, there are also antique shops, salvage yards, floral design shops, flea markets and estate sales. 

Another resource for stylists is shopping from their own collection.  I've observed this while assisting my friends, Brian Andriola and Jeffrey Moss.  Brian has a studio space in San Francisco that is dedicated to his museum of objects, and because we mostly work in the Bay Area, he can pull from his arsenal of amazing pieces.  Jeffrey too has great collections, in his apartment in Chicago, but they usually start out as props before they become his "my own, my precious".  Both men have a great eye for beautiful artifacts which are easily incorporated into the catalog shots.

My biggest lesson from both of them has been realizing that I have my own style and my own collections.  I have been shopping, salvaging and pulling things off the street for years.  Now, as I look around my house, I am seeing everything in a new way.  So, a lot of what I will be using in my test shoot will be things I already own, mixed in with new pieces.

I have been shopping for props and ideas in San Francisco, Indianapolis, San Diego and on Ebay for the last couple of months. Understand though, that "shopping" isn't necessarily "buying".  A lot of the time it's the gathering of information and inspiration.

I am sharing some of my shopping inspiration and props I have bought that I will be using in a few weeks for my test shoot with Michael Bennett so you can see my process thus far.

these are some examples of cool props

these are some of my collections

 Watch for the posting of the Bennett-Hartmann photo shoot and see which of these objects made the cut!