Deadlines and wine

Deadlines are a part of life. You are threatened with them as early as the 1st grade, and even then, you are told that you will be dealing with ever more challenging and important deadlines as you get older, so you might as well get used to it. When I was younger I thought those were just empty threats…or at the very least I had HOPED they were empty threats. And, of course, I was wrong. The image here reminds me of the most daunting deadline I have ever faces as a wine bottle photographer.

I had been working with Chateau Potelle to help them re-launch their brand, and it was one of the most exciting and challenging projects I have ever had. Their new packaging was gorgeous (as you can see by looking at my site!) but it was also difficult to properly expose the bottle and the label. Not to mention that their one-of-a-kind Sauvignon Blanc bottle design was square, although you could be a mere 2 feet away from it and it would look like a normal rounded bottle. It took very special lighting and placement to bring out that very unique feature.

Everything was going along a smoothly as any rebranding can hope for, when I got a phone call from the project leader saying they needed a beauty shot…yesterday.  Now normally wine bottle shots that are staged, choreographed, or otherwise known as “beauty shots” take some consideration and time before even the first shutter release. Lots of planning, mockups, discussions, acquisitions of various props and backgrounds. 1-2 weeks is a minimum requirement to get it right. We had 4 hours.

Luckily for me, for them, hec, luckily for all of us, a family friend owns a famous, beautiful Napa Valley restaurant that would serve as our stage. Indeed, it would serve as our studio and our art setup.

We got there, under a heavy rain on a miserable Sunday afternoon with only a few hours to shoot before the restaurant staff would need to setup for dinner. The first thing we do when we get there is decide to use the fireplace. Then we grab a few wine glasses, try that out, to no avail. Then we see a flower arrangement and, um, borrow one of the flowers, pour some wine into a sexy decantur and about 45 minutes later, we have the shot. And to this day it remains one of my favorite wine bottle beauty shots. I hope you think so, too!

– Bryan Gray, Napa Valley Wine Bottle and Winery Photographer

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