Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fashion capital of the world

As designers of fabulous couture sip champagne at after-show parties in Paris and New York, factory workers in small towns around the globe are cutting, sewing and pressing next season's ideas into finished garments. Therefore, one could argue the northern Romanian town of Baia Mare (pop. 150,000) is the true center of the fashion universe.

We traveled to Baia Mare to shoot the Habitex garment factory back in July 2006 and found the modern facility a far cry from what we expected. A gleaming daylight-filled building, high ceilings, skylights, air conditioning and rows of advanced sewing machines gave us lots of angles and subjects to capture. A complex ceiling-mounted rail system channels finished garments from two factories into a single warehouse (think of your dry cleaner's rail system times 1,000). The materials, stitching and accessories were all made of the finest quality.

It seems Asian factories have stolen all of the low-end garment work, leaving the skilled seamstresses of Eastern Europe to concentrate on the high-end. Goodbye Wal-Mart, hello Hugo Boss. And, with the former eastern bloc country set to join the EU, wages and working conditions are reaching western standards. Goodbye communism, hello capitalism.

To design their website, Habitex hired the Ghent-based Group94 (incidentally, the same design firm who did and other great portfolio sites).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Chicago Four

The man on the left with the daily shave is Chris Michel from the Bridge House design firm. The man on the right with the weekly shave is me. The guy in the middle with the monthly shave is Jeff Herron. We were eating dinner on the last night of a recent 5-day shoot in Chicago.

This is 3/4 of the crew from the shoot. The only crew member not pictured is the one behind the camera, Marisa Marcus, account manager at Bridge House. Marisa held the heavy 1Ds camera amazingly steady for 1/8th of a second to get this shot.

Clean up your room

My mother-in-law would flip if she saw this room.

We shot this artist's loft in Chicago a couple of months ago. I found the absence of color (in the loft and in the 100s of papers) very interesting. It wasn't immediately evident what the artist's specialty was but he was a very calm, very polite man in his 40s.

The third-floor room used to be a garment sweatshop around the beginning of the 20th century. Old papers found on the site include what seemed to be a handwritten work schedule of seamstresses with Italian names.

While the mess in my office doesn't approach the level of this one, I will argue (mostly with my wife) that right brains need a bit of chaos in order to function properly.


I shot this with a PhaseOne P20 digital back with side-to-side stitching, creating a 30 megapixel image showing every detail in the room. The lens was a 24mm Schneider Digitar (a little soft but highly recommended) mounted on a Silvestri Bicam (highly not recommended). The only light sources were the windows in the shot so it did require some masking in Photoshop.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Not staying the course

Over the course of my 9-year photography career, about 95% of my projects have been architectural in nature. The other 5% have been interesting diversions from the typical homes, hotels and other structural subjects that I usually shoot. Some of those odd projects have been mentioned here in my blog and others have gone unnoticed, sitting in the depths of my 1.2TB hard drive.

A few of my friends and clients have suggested I turn my efforts to shooting lifestyle, or more specifically, spa lifestyle. So, in an attempt to generate some new business (since the U.S. real estate market continues to tank), I will be updating a few of my online portfolios to include more of my people shots. The first portfolio to get an update is my PDN PhotoServe. Other updates will be mentioned here in the coming days and weeks. After reviewing these images, if anyone feels I should stick to my day job of architecture (or just give up photography completely), please feel free to comment.

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