Cover of the Fine issue of PLY

Put Some Fiber On It

Hi friends! We recently finished shooting the Autumn 2015 – Texture issue of PLY. Jacey and I often joke about how each new issue is our favorite, but this one is going to BLOW YOU AWAY.

Before I divulge any information about the Autumn issue, let’s chat about Summer, shall we? I think it’s going to be your favorite. Some of you have already found it in your mailbox this week. Hopefully the postal system will be kind to the rest of you.

I’m sure we’ve mentioned this before, but shooting each issue seasonally can be tricky, because we take photos about 4-5 months before the issue is printed and shipped to you. We don’t strive for perfection but we also don’t want snow in the summer issue, you know? (Sorry, folks in the southern hemisphere, nothing is ever on time for you. I apologize for the hemisphere discrimination you face on a frequent basis.)

When the time came for our scheduled shoot, it was bitterly cold, the ground covered in snow. Clearly we couldn’t shoot outside, for reasons both aesthetic and practical. Fortunately Powell Gardens, only 30 miles away, had an exhibit in their natural light conservatory called Desert in Bloom. Because of the weather we even had the whole space to ourselves.

When evaluating a space for shooting, obviously we have some specific needs. Natural light is a must. While we have studio lighting, it adds a lot of time to the process and it simply doesn’t compare to the real thing. We also look at the colors in the environment, the availability of textured, interesting surfaces for backgrounds, and the variety of settings. Every set of photos has different requirements. Spinning shots take up more space and the background has to be interesting but not TOO interesting. Shots with models in garments need great light and good background, and they often set the scene for the magazine – they give the photography in the issue a unifying sense of place. Swatch shots need a flat surface that has texture but doesn’t compete with the texture of the fiber. The conservatory was perfect for our needs, and additionally provided the material for my FAVORITE cover shot so far.

When I spotted the beautiful Queen Victoria agave specimen in a pot beside the conservatory’s central pool, I knew it had to be in the issue. After taking a few shots of it, I employed the PLY equivalent of “put a bird on it,” which is to stick some fiber on the thing I find pretty and hope I get away with it. I think it worked this time.

Cover of the Fine issue of PLY

After the shoot I had to get a Queen Victoria Agave of my own. I ordered some seeds and within a week they were planted in a pot in my kitchen window. It has been 14 weeks and I have three plants. I had read that they are slow-growing…yeah, they’re not kidding. I’ll get back to you in 15-20 years with an update. In the meantime, enjoy the Fine issue! ~ Bernadette



5 replies
  1. Tanja
    Tanja says:

    “Hemisphere discrimination” – I love it! Well, I’ll get my copy in a few weeks here in the southern hemisphere, but I always want to know what the cover looks like beforehand. In this case, as always, gorgeous!

  2. Jacey
    Jacey says:

    It’s true, B is constantly taking beautiful shots of things that have nothing to do with fiber. When I go through the shots to code them into the articles I find all kinds of close-up shots of adorable moss and tiny crushed beetle shells. I think once I found a picture of an old chicken foot. It pays off though, some of our best photo finds are due to that eye! Just wait until you see the back cover of the Texture issue, that eye!

    • Bernadette
      Bernadette says:

      Wow thanks for sharing! I had no idea. I wouldn’t have imagined agave being used for fiber. ~ Bernadette


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