Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vignettes - Durston Saylor, Photographer

Stylists, decorators, and photographers are adept at creating vignettes. My design crew used to use the word vignette as a verb, as in, oh no she's vignette-ing again.
The success of a vignette is to convey an intimate detail about the space, something that draws you in and keeps you from turning the page too fast. Vignettes are also used to show important accents and accessories. Vignettes tell a story.
I love vignettes, because they are a like little jewels, whetting the appetite like an amuse-bouche. The vignette beckons you up the dark and winding stairway exploding into a larger view.

Durston Saylor (don't you just love that name!) is a photographer who has many credits to his name. I featured a book he photographed, Decorating Master Class HERE. I love the painterly way he lights rooms. He is an expert with handling, using, and manipulating light HERE . You can also visit his website for more photos and information about him HERE
Vignettes are little windows into a bigger world, thumb nail sketches at the very least, and masterly little painting like compositions at best. I love when mirrors are used, because they give you a real feeling of Alice going through the looking glass. It is very difficult to photograph a shot with a mirror in it, and I think Durston handles it beautifully.

This vignette has several difficult elements to work with: lamp light, fire light, and the mirror. Don't you just love the way the mirror reflects so many inviting elements of this room?
Vignettes don't have to be jam packed with objects (though those have their place and charm too). Sometimes a single object or two, well placed, and beautifully lit can convey so very much. This AD cover done by Durston of Madonna's apartment, certainly conveys a sense of intrigue and intimacy. It's rare for AD to use such a spare composition for the cover, and I think it attests to Durston's adeptness at handling the genre of the vignette.
Vignettes can evoke emotion. A spare space says everything and nothing. Looking at an almost empty room might make you ask who lives there?

Viewing a room through a doorway is always magical. It's as if you're passing by, and catch a glimpse of the personal space beyond the doorway. You want a vignette to draw the viewer in.
I love this Saylor vignette, not only because of the doorway, but also because of the portrait with the woman looking at the viewer over her shoulder.

Looking outside the room from within also is evocative. How wonderful to see the sunset and the view outside the window. Shooting a room in lamp light, and using the light from the sunset is a tricky proposition that Durston pulls off splendidly. You can just feel the cocktail hour is about to happen in this posh New York setting.
What person hasn't peered through a garden gate, or a courtyard gate, looking into secret gardens? Or walking by a home and looking into a window with the curtains drawn back. This is the flip side, peering into the secret interior space from the garden. It's like pressing your nose up against the glass of some marvelous place, trying to see everything inside.
The table top vignette is another art form. The objects have to be just right to say something about who inhabits the room. If the table top is too staged, it becomes dead and static. There has to be a certain naturalness to the perfection of the arrangement.
Try to make some vignettes and photograph them. It's alot of fun. If you get any shots you like, please send them to me, and I'll post them.

Stay tuned for more of Durston Saylor's photographs of entire interiors....

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