Photo shoots are a kind of finish line. They’re usually done with advance copies of product (meaning, the very first units off the manufacturing line, air-freighted to us just in time) or mock-ups (sometimes made with manufacturer’s blank samples, sometimes from scratch), so the shoot represents the very first time we’re actually seeing, in three-dimensional form, the notebooks, journals, and sketchbooks we’ve worked so hard on over the preceding six months. At times I find myself in need of a napkin to wipe away the drool.
We shot the first Plumb release, Spring 2014, in a studio, and I was only involved in part of it, so I’d forgotten what hard work photo shoots are! It’s not digging ditches, of course, but it’s something I don’t do frequently enough to remember what it’s like by the time I do the next one. So I always assume a shoot is going to go quickly, easily, and pleasurably, requiring only a minimum of setup. It’s certainly harder than it looks, and it takes a lot more patience and tenacity than I ever imagine. I don’t think you can respect what it is a stylist does (because really, who doesn’t think that sounds like a fake job?) until you do it yourself.
But enough about me.
We did two Plumb photo shoots—glamour, hero shots in a setting, then a studio shoot against white seamless paper for the “this is what it looks like” thumbnails that go on the product pages of the catalog and the website. That first one was at my house. I’m lucky enough to live in a perfect little archetypal Venice bungalow with a great backyard and some nice furniture vignettes. The Plumb team thought that the Southern California light and sensibility would be perfect to showcase our second release.
At my house, we were going for mood, light, and making the product shine. We shot each of the nine notebooks individually; groupings of the three journals created by each artist; and the entire collection for potential cover shots for our wholesale catalog.
The next day, at the studio, our mission was to show as many of the products’ features as possible—almost more of a diagramming kind of approach.
Nothing can beat the Plumb journals themselves, in person, in your hands, under your pen, but in the photographs I hope we were able to convey the magic of these pieces and the artistry that went into them.