Today, Don Williams, John Hoffman and I wrapped up the third of what will probably be five or six photo shoots for Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley. The difficulties in one of these shoots begin with scheduling – Chris, John and I all have demanding day jobs and kids at home, leaving us with few mutually available days or weekends. And unsurprisingly, “retirement” for Don actually means spending longer and busier days working on the dozens of exciting projects he has lined up for himself. So we have to schedule months ahead of time. Because Chris is in Australia, John stood in as photo assistant.
Whereas our first trip was a scouting survey of the chest and tools and our second a documentary session for specific tools and tool groupings, on this trip I was able to split time between documentary and “creative” photography. Don, Chris and I are preparing for the Studley talk at Handworks this May, where some of the work that is going into the book will be making its public debut. Chris will be speaking about the tools in the chest and their use. For this, thanks to our earlier trips, we already have more than enough photography. In addition to offering a project overview and a history of the chest, Don will be speaking at length about the vises on the Studley bench. So on this trip I spent the better part of a day shooting the bench, its vises, and all their details (there are many!) to make sure Don has what he needs for his portion of the talk.
I will be speaking at Handworks on the photographic process and aesthetic details of the Studly tool chest. And believe me – the hardest challenge of the shoot this weekend was figuring out how to capture in two dimensions just a small fraction of my favorite details. We already have many “documentary” shots, but the kind of strange camera angles and dramatic lighting I allow myself in this more artsy approach accentuates some surfaces and diminishes others, lending visual depth to some of Studley’s aesthetic flourishes which doesn’t necessarily come across in “straight” photography. Partway through this process I mentioned in passing that the Studley chest is a woodworking fractal – you can take any portion of it, look closer, and find even more detail.
Below are some shots from this trip. They are but a small number from our bucket-o-favorites; we’re saving more of our top picks for the talk in May and of course for the book. Last I heard, Handworks is already nearing “standing room only” capacity. This may actually be a good thing – when Handworks attendees become as short of breath as the Virtuoso team becomes every single time we see the Studley toolchest, it’ll help imensely to have someone to lean on. On the other hand, there will be more drool to clean up. Have fun with that, Jameel.