After many months of work behind the scenes by the Director, the Board, the staff and the creative team, Hill-Stead’s new website was officially launched on Monday. So why is this this newsworthy for my blog? Because I created a significant number of the images in the majority of the sections to help showcase the Museum at it’s best.
Instead of standing behind a velvet rope or peering though a glass cabinet, I have the privilege of working closely with Melanie Anderson Bourbeau, Curator and Director of Interpretative Programming to photograph many of the priceless treasures at close range.
Sometimes the photographs were taken in situ in the rooms (just as the occupants left them when the property was bequeathed) which meant dealing with the vagaries of the changing light as the weather played havoc, trying to control shafts of sunlight, trying to make an exposure in very low light or avoiding any risks of moving delicate precious objects. It’s quite soothing to work quietly in these wonderful spaces, tuning in to the rhythmic, soothing tick of the heritage clocks. One can almost imaging the family about to make a grand entrance after a fancy outing or striding on the grounds. Oh yes, I photographed those glorious grounds and people enjoying events too but it was the interiors that required so much dedicated time to document properly.
In this context I was photographing the Monets’ Manets, Whisters, Cassats and other classic Impressionist Paintings in addition to detailed prints by Durer, Paranesi, Bracquemond, Millet and so many more. Sculpture, clocks, furniture, textiles and fragile books make the home feel inviting because they are objects the family appreciated daily.
Requiring considerably more equipment to set up for controlled lighting situations was the macro work to concentrate on the beauty of the Decorative Arts. I really loved the challenge of lighting the silver and glass to control reflections. Clocks and boxes have such intricate workmanship but I particularly liked the Asian souvenirs, especially since it’s a region I know well. I expect most viewers won’t realize what goes into creating a well light staged set but it certainly took me back to college days in the studio as I earned my degree.
In a future blog post I will show some of the set-ups we used to create the controlled light for the macro shots. For now, it’s satisfying to see how my photography can help raise the profile of a museum I support in many other tangible ways. Now I just need to upgrade my own website..... As they say, the cobbler’s children have no shoes. Anyway I can’t dwell on what’s not there today because tomorrow’s clients deserve a fresh focus! Some sleep now and a new start tomorrow.