The Writings

Almost Indiana Jones - My Adventures with Bardangle

I've been talking about this shoot for a while, and now it's finally time to share the story!  I received an e-mail from Wendy of CRAVE DC about doing a reshoot for a jeweler in the area named Barbara Kinney of Bardangle.  I've shot jewelers before, so immediately I was a little nervous, since I've also shot reshoots of jewelers before.  I know they're extremely particular about how their craft is shown, and that's certainly fair - they want their products to be represented the right way.  However, nothing - and I mean nothing - could prepare me for the adventure I was about to embark on by accepting this gig.

When brainstorming, I was trying to figure out creative locations to shoot the jewelry and handbags, since her last shoot merely involved the usual white seamless, which is extremely boring.  Since this was going for a book, I really wanted the images to pop, so that when a reader was going through to check out the businesses, they'd be compelled to stop on her page to see what was going on - a mission I attempt to carry out for every shoot for the book.  Furthermore, as you're well aware, I'm extremely competitive.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise to you when I say that, the moment I heard I'm doing a reshoot, I was not only nervous to make sure that the client's standards were met, but amped to outdo their expectations.  Yes, I'm a walking contradiction.  However, my work was almost done for me the moment Barbara told me she sells her imported handbags from Cambodia at the Smithsonian's Sackler Museum.  I immediately thought, "We HAVE to shoot there!"  She was in love with the idea, and a simple walk to the museum for a shoot was as good as gold.  Or so we thought.

When we entered the museum at noon, we walked around and found a bunch of statues from southeast Asia sitting in a corridor, and we instantly knew we had to use them for the shoot somehow.  There was a ledge that I figured we could use to set the bags on, as if the location was calling to us to use it.  Not wanting to piss off any security guards, we decided to ask for permission to use the statues.  Unbeknownst to us, this involved quite a process, which required permission that had to be reviewed, a check on the publication's background, and a photography credit.  That's not all that bad, except for a few things: 1) The deadline was that day (Friday, September 3rd), and my plan was to shoot during the day and edit + send that night, 2) it was right before Labor Day weekend, which means "a day in advance" now turns into "four days in advance", 3) Barbara's and my heart was set on this location, and out of selfishness, I didn't want to think about anywhere else for the shoot!

We asked for permission from Wendy of CRAVE to extend the deadline to Tuesday, which we thankfully got (Thanks, Wendy!), and in the meantime, decided to shoot the jewelry in a statue garden outside.  Now, personally, I love it when a client is puzzled by what I'm doing, but once I show him/her the images, the idea is realized and they love the work.  That was going on, and I was extremely pleased and relieved that Barbara was a fan, even before post-production!  We called it a day and decided to go for lunch at Teaism.  Little did I know, I was far from finished.

After a great lunch, where we discussed a variety of topics, such as how we got started in our respective businesses, business plans, fashion, and other going ons in our lives, we went to scope out locations for her head shot, and while we were out and about Connecticut Avenue in Dupont Circle, Barbara had an idea to use a Cambodian temple to shoot in.  Worried about whether or not the museum would come through, I agreed, and we headed to the Cambodian Embassy to see if they could not only direct us to a temple, but perhaps grant permission to use the statues in question at the museum for the shoot.  After driving up near Silver Spring, we didn't get permission, but we did get directions to the Cambodian Buddhist Society.  The GPS said "Silver Spring", but we didn't realize it wasn't really there - it was another 30 minutes outside of Silver Spring!  The location was nice, and an awkward conversation with the groundskeeper and one of the monks later lead us to believe we REALLY needed the museum to come through!

We had spent nearly seven hours together in one day, only to get shots of the jewelry, but at least we had a game plan (and a back-up game plan) for Tuesday.  We decided to get her head shots out of the way while we waited for a response from the museum, and as I met up with Barbara, she received an e-mail, saying we were granted permission!  The catch: I only had 30 minutes and it had to be done before 4pm.  Piece of cake!  Extremely excited, we finished the head shots, though our initial idea didn't work out as well as we had hoped, and went to the museum, where we got some great shots using the Buddhist statues!  We left the museum feeling extremely positive about our day of shooting, and decided to celebrate with some white sangria at Jaleo!

Perhaps it was the booze or the tapas (or both), but we decided to try out our initial plan of having her standing in the middle of a busy intersection with people walking by, blurred out and such, and took to the intersection of H and 7th.  Things worked out pretty well, and decided to celebrate all our hard work at Fado.  Yes, we really like to celebrate - don't judge.

When we got to see the spread, I was highly disappointed, in all honesty.  I think it might stem from being emotionally attached to my very last shoot for CRAVE, and also having gone through all of these adventures to make it happen, but to see how they cropped the hell out of everything, I was livid.  LIVID!  Especially after seeing how they did things with my shoot for Tranquil Space, I shoot to crop, knowing how they could potentially edit the images.  That was far from the case.  Maybe I'm being a diva artist, but the point of shooting the bags with the statues behind them IS TO HAVE THE STATUES IN THE F*%#ING PICTURE! So, when I see the bags in the photo and the head of a statue cropped out, what's the point?!  You would've been better off telling my client, "why bother with a reshoot?  We're just going to annihilate the images anyway!"  It would've saved us all of this grief!  However, they [sort of] fixed the spread, but in the end, I was still disappointed with the final result.  As Barbara said, though: at least she and I know how they REALLY came out.

Much like what's been my experience throughout this almost-year's worth of shooting for CRAVE, it was really awesome getting to talk to Barbara, who has been running her business for only a few years.  We're both just starting out, in a way, so it was cool to bounce ideas off each other to get a different outlook on what we're doing as business owners, what our goals are, and what our plans are to make that happen.  I love being around ambitious people, and Barbara is no exception.  Talking to very driven people is a great motivator for me, especially in these times when the shoots start to tail off a bit.  However, thanks to our little pep talk, I feel like I'm going to be okay, and I'm absolutely certain she will meet her goals, too!

I'm putting up the images from our shoot here, and when I get the spread from CRAVE, I'll update this post, just so you can see what they did and compare.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed the adventure in making them!

Until next time,

- Patrick