September 17, 2009

Found but not lost images from a funny moment on a shoot for Mallett Inc.

One of those days that I thought death was going to descend on me and thinking that the cold dirt would keep me warm … Working with one of the most respected Antique Dealers in the world, I almost died working under a one of kind antique Amber Glass 18 Branch Chandelier by Venini, hand blown glass chandelier that had a arms that spanned almost 6 feet in diameter. The story goes like this...

I will skip the details of how I got the assignment or what it was for and all the other glories of getting a job… The start of it was when I was heading in a cab to meet the team and I realized that I was not going to be shooting on Madison Avenue but in Queens at a warehouse…. Yes that is where this one of kind antique Amber Glass 18 Branch Chandelier by Venini that had arms that spanned almost 6 feet in diameter was resting in a giant crate before it was scheduled to be shipped to a buyer.
Well, running late or later than late since traffic over the 59th street Bridge was brutal my cabbie was irate yelling that he is going to run out of gas and whatever else he was yelling in his native tongue. So lying in a box waiting upon my arrival was the Chandelier. The warehouse chief and his two helpers along with the team from the Antique store are waiting to unpack the Chandelier and then put it together after wiring it and testing it. The next phase would be how and where we are going to hang her..

I arrive at a secure vault-like warehouse with all my equipment and a 9 foot, white seemless roll of paper which has been hanging out the front window of my cab. Exiting the cab and entering into the building I am greeted by a security guard asking me for my ID. I Follow the guy through two monster doors. I am now in an old meat-locker sized elevator that could hold two 4-door sedans and we're heading up to the 4th floor. Somewhere in the maze of triple-lock doors, security cameras and hidden vaults is where they keep some of the worlds rarest items for socialites, celebrities, investors and antiques dealers. I am walking behind my elevator operator and personal security guard, Jessy from Ireland around this maze of vaults… Somewhere in the back I see a door that is open and I hear English, Irish and/or Scottish accents as I enter. A group of workers have rigged up the base of the Chandelier between two ladders and I notice that this is going to be a longer day then I could have expected. As the workers are assembling the base to a ladder and a rig from the ceiling, I see one guy has begun to put the octopus tentacle-sized arms on. The electrician is testing the wires and the light bulbs in the distance. I begin to ask where this area is that we are going to hang the Chandelier because this area is only 7 feet wide while the rest of the vault is 25 feet by 19 feet; we are going to need space behind it and around it so we can hang a white backdrop to cover or camouflage the floor to ceiling art racks which are filled with paintings that are covered in sealed crates along with other unknown covered and impeccably labeled treasures. Fast forwarding to the three different riggings, two hours setting up the Amber Glass 18 Branch Chandelier along with replacing the bulbs, the removing of finger prints on the glass another 2 hours, three hours of telling two guys to hold the Chandelier steady and then have them quickly remove fingers and duck the Chandelier in between the two 12-foot ladders as I press the shutter each time. Watching the Chandelier shake, rattle and move as the ladders were kicked, knocked into or just moved with the building when the trains pass on the tracks. It is dark outside and 12 hours later I am waiting to for my car service.

I have since refrained from shooting objects made out of glass that are larger than five feet tall or five feet wide or both. I will never let anything over a $100,000 swing from a ceiling’s cross bar or held steady and upright with ladders. And most important I have learned never never never take no for an answer from anyone that tries to walk under something hanging from ceiling’s cross bar and held steady and upright with ladders and two guys. Drum roll please for the biggggggest of big lessons of all: You can never have too much insurance on any job… Big or small

Mallett Inc. is one of the oldest antique stores in London and they also have a large presence here on Madison Avenue in New York City. Mallett Inc. is a dealer of rare English and Continental furniture, paintings and decorative objects.

The Amber Glass 18 Branch Chandelier was the last antique I recall shooting.

Cheers to the Brits!