Our Biggest Installation Yet!

A few months ago, I was asked to be the exclusive artist for a wonderful new upscale restaurant opening in the county in which I live. I was honored to have been asked and after I agreed to do it the reality of the situation hit me. Here it was, literally weeks from opening, and I had to design the installation, choose the images, get them printed and install them before the grand opening, and that was on top of my other assignments. Stress city, here I come!

Now we’re just a week away from the Grand Opening and I thought you might want to see what has gone into the production from the photographer’s viewpoint.

Hats off to Bob

First, I’ve got to say that none of this would have been possible— well possible, but not as expertly done— without the able assistance of Bob Boyer. Bob and I have been working together for a couple of years now and we have entire sets of non-overlapping skills. Bob is a computer expert (http://photo.rwboyer.com), while I know nothing about what goes on inside the black box. Bob is a studio photographer and indoor lighting expert, while I would much rather be outdoors, shooting landscapes in minus-30F or plus-110F. Thankfully, Bob is also a printing maven, a true master of the craft, a digital Ansel Adams, if you will (or Edward Westin, who he prefers).

Carsins’: The Restaurant

Carsins’—that’s the name of the restaurant… and yes, the apostrophe is in the right place— is the brainchild of Terry Cheung, an experienced and successful restaurateur. It will open as a steak and seafood establishment, although Terry plans to add sushi to the fare a few months after opening. It occupies a large footprint and so our selection of images was governed both by size and the unique wall surfaces throughout. In the end we settled on 22 images, some individual and others in geographic or thematic groupings, such as Canadian scenics or wildlife images.

We also wanted to highlight for customers, many of whom will be corporate executives, what our capabilities are for potential displays in their offices or building lobbies. So, we chose several display media, most notably ColorPlak, aluminum, face-mounted plexiglass (FMP) and traditional matted and framed prints.

Once the images were selected from my Aperture files, we assembled them using the lightbox feature within Aperture and began to arrange them in individual spaces or in pleasing wall groupings. Once I was done with that I handed the images over to Bob to work his magic.

Printing Challenges

Anyone who knows anything about printing images knows that every paper type prints slightly differently. To get the best print possible, you’d better know how each paper handles contrast and tonality, for example. Now, multiply that knowledge several times to understand how different media affect print quality. ColorPlak, for example, handles contrast wholly differently than FMP, so Bob had to incorporate those differences for every image, paper and medium.

Finally, the images began to be delivered to us, in the case of ColorPlak, freighted across the country to us from California. For the black and white images, we did our own printing and only had to pick them up from the framing shop.

The Installation Starts

Here I am installing one array of images on a dining room wall (just click on each image to enlarge). We do all the installations ourselves so as to get the exact look we want. Sure it takes me away from photographing, but it’s all part of artistic expression, so I enjoy that hands-on part of my artwork.

The biggest challenge we faced was choosing and mounting one iconic image that would serve as the visual focal point for those entering the main dining room. After many visits to the unfinished space and some rousing debates, we finally took a big gamble and settled on an image I took while in the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territory of Canada two years ago. One day a storm approached us as I was photographing. My wife wanted to leave as the wind began to blow fiercely and the temperatures dropped precipitously. I persuaded her to stay for a few minutes more. I weighted down my tripod and took this image, one of my favorites.

The challenge for Bob was to blow that 12-megapixel image up to 5 feet by 9 feet!!! That he was able to do so is a testament to his expertise. We decided to do it as a triptych, which we felt would add some dynamism to the look. We sent the file to ColorPlak (www.colorplak.com) and, as usual, they did a phenomenal job on it.

Here is the image as it appears on the dining room wall.

Stay tuned as we complete the installation. At that point I’ll photograph the installation and post a tour of the restaurant decorated with my images and Bob’s painstaking print work. As always, please give us your opinions and suggestions for improvements.

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