Kitchen art says a lot about the homeowner, or it quietly pulls together appliance, counter and floor colors. Both if you’re lucky, but it depends. Wall space can be at a premium, too, forcing things small.
My daughter uses my 8×10 chicken photos, liberally. I’m not sure where that comes from, but they work despite foul-less appliances.
My wife recently asked if I could create some kitchen art from her collection of family-heirloom silverware from companies that no longer exist. Every one of the first three pieces she handed me are somewhere between 50 and 100 years old, at least as near as we can figure. They’re probably older. The patterns are the kind of detailed and gorgeous work you rarely see any more, part of the reason for her request. If was my honor to photograph them and reflect on the handiwork, but there were challenges.
The well-used butter knife’s has an angled handle that makes it impossible to show its profile and the blade simultaneously. Its surface shows age more than the others, too.
For the record, I had no idea how tough this was going to be. I knew I couldn’t just put them down and take a picture. Reflections, shadows and bouncing light from objects in close proximity can muddy striking features. The reflective surfaces make things even more “messy.” So I suspended each on monofilament line, dropped them in a tabletop tent and waited until movement stopped. They went in one at a time and seemed to move forever. Hint: If you try this at home, breathe in another room.
I used two flashes—right and left, triggered by PocketWizards from my Canon 5d MkII. To capture all those “sexy” curves in the metalwork I moved them around between shots, a lot.
Metal photo prints can be cleaned without damage and their longevity is unparalleled, making them ideal for this project. They require very high resolutions, however, so the final image would really be several “takes” fused in Photoshop. The software usually does great seamlessly stitching multiple photographs, but fine detail like this can be a challenge. It was, by the way.
Flash position that worked on the spoon did not work on the fork or knife. In fact, everything except the tent and tripod had to be moved with each piece. Add that swinging piece of metal and by day two I felt like Chinese water torture had nothing on this kitchen art project.
I’ll start on the other pieces in a few days, after the scars have healed. If I’m satisfied with the beta prints I’ll be offering them soon. We have stainless and black appliances, so I think things will look great.
Each appears on its own print, separately (like on the home page)—not a single image like you see here. That allows strategic wall placement in different shaped and sized kitchens.
I really like the concept of capturing photos of this kind of art before it disappears. I think I’ve done the craftsmen justice, although I I’d be interested in your take. Let me know what you think.