Zen and the Art of Chair Photography

Striking my set today, I tried to channel a friend and mentor’s zen feeling about tearing down lighting equipment. For him, putting the lights away is time to reflect on the past shoot and think about what you’d learned.

 

For me striking a set is work, pure and simple.

 

So I tried to be mindful today, purposeful, while I carefully wrapped cords and folded stands. As much as it pains to say it, he is right.

 

I shot knockouts of chairs, a six light set up just to perfectly light a damn chair on a white background.

 

There will be no awards for this shoot, no rush of comments or likes on facebook. People will never think of the time and thought that went into the picture of the product in the catalog.

 

"Meaningless" work.

 

Unless you are my client of course, then you appreciate the extra time and care I add to make sure the chair looks absolutely perfect. Because my client spends countless hours on the exact placement of the bolts on the chair, obsesses the way the fabric stretches over the perfect amount of foam that no one will think twice about while their butt rests on it for hours and hours. Making sure the ergonomics of the chairs they make are just so, ensuring that the butt resting in their seat will be comfortable and safe for those countless hours of work.

 

You know, "meaningless" work.

 

That will probably not win awards, or receive a rush of comments or likes on facebook about how that bolt placement is going to revolutionize the way people think about chairs.

 

But maybe that is where I screwed up, maybe the zen like feeling is from finding meaning and purpose innately, in your soul and not looking outside for significance and purpose.

 

Everything in life is beaming with meaning and purpose, from designing the perfect office chair to documenting it’s artistry and grace on a simple white background with all the prowess of my lighting skills.   

 

As I folded up the soft boxes, I reveled in the blessing that I was in my studio, with my lights, my little world. The blessing of having career that was in it's second decade.

 

How amazing it was to have a brain full of knowledge about how light falls, how to place 6 different lights to make a product just pop off the page.

 

Over 10 years into the game, with a copious bag of tricks, I STILL learn every day. I still have so much to learn. I can STILL knock a shoot up a notch and grow as a photographer.

 

So I guess the meaning in the "meaningless," is that nothing is meaningless. Every tiny grain of sand has the power to shift and change the world.

 

Pretty damn meaningful huh.

 

 

 

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