Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Professional Photographer Shoots Chez Sven Interiors

All morning my stomach did twists and turns. I felt as nervous as a young Argentinian dancer, before her first tango competition. What put me in such a state of excitation? A photographer was coming to shoot interior photos for the soon-to-be functional new Web site created by my Webmaster-son. Paul had turned his nose up at my meager attempts to shoot our bedrooms, so I decided to hire quality. Not just anyone would do. I sent several options through cyberspace before we settled on Dan Cutrona, whom I actually found thanks to a blog follower. (Hat tip to Charles!) Dan arrived on the dot of ten, as scheduled, with his Irish assistant, Jack, and tons of equipment. They set up first in Seagull Cottage after a quick walk through the main house to scope out the job. Dan instantly noticed the beauty of our garden, despite the drizzle, and decided to emphasize flowers throughout, “bringing the outdoors inside.” This choice made me relax. He obviously understood our concept. Once I had said goodbye to our current guests, I slipped over to observe the proceedings.

“Jack, can you move the couch over a little so it’s centered on the window? Great!“ Dan turned to me and explained, “If we’re doing symmetric, it makes such a difference.”

He was right. The shot was perfect.

It’s hard to photograph the bedroom and convey the aerie sense of space that makes guests exclaim, “Why this is much more beautiful than I expected,” but Dan succeeded masterfully.

The team had finished both bedrooms by the time I returned and was setting up on the sun porch. Not much sun today, but no matter if one has the right equipment. Jack suggested a shot through the window, and that is where Dan went. (Here's a closer look at that bouquet.) I was glad Sven’s gingerbread fretwork would be featured in a photo. Some guests rave about the sun porch, the perfect place to relax after a day at the beach.

Following a brief break for lunch, it was on to the Green Room, which is actually yellow, with wallpaper from Great Britain. (“Green” refers to eco-friendly choices in renovation, like salvaged tile, Energy-star ventilation fans, high R-factor insulation, etc.)

“Mind if I move this lamp?” Dan asked.

“He brought the Van Gogh flowers downstairs,” Sven whispered, watching over my shoulder. (Translation: the bouquet of sunflowers I had placed in the Liberty Coin bedroom now graced a Green Room table.) “These guys are very good at what they do. Good taste, too!"

I nodded, having already drawn the same conclusion. Soon the room was rearranged in such a way as to please the eye with every detail. Once the lighting was set, Dan clicked away. Artistic photography is not easy to achieve, and yet he managed to create magic in every room, not simply shooting but thinking ahead what would work best to give context as well as beauty to the shot. I had had the most trouble with the Liberty Coin room, which sports skylights and beams. In short order, Dan had captured its essence from two directions. I learned the value of staging – take away a bulky object that's the wrong color, add a few apples, a throw, or a book – and light. At one point the photographer even asked Jack to stand outside in the rain and hold the door to the sitting room half open.

“Okay, cool! You’re good,” said Dan. "Think we're done."

The most challenging shot? Seagull Cottage, combining living room, dining area, and master bedroom in one photo.

His favorite room to shoot? The sitting room in the main house, with its portraits of my parents, the Victorian love seat, and light blue staircase.

Time required for these custom photos? Six hours.

Sven and I are extremely satisfied with our choice and highly recommend Dan Cultrona to anyone in need of professional photography. Stay tuned for a preview of the new Web site, hopefully within the month.