Big Leo photographer Jim Bastardo, who regularly shoots for Design Within Reach (DWR), was commissioned by the modern furniture company to create their ad campaign featuring some of the industry’s most prominent designers. To our complete surprise (and excitement), the first installment in a series of three features the legendary Eva Zeisel, whose influential work in ceramics sent her on a self-proclaimed “playful search for beauty”. Jim’s image, shot just this past winter, is proof positive that beauty and design inspires at any age.
We asked Jim about his experience shooting this amazing design legend, who herself, at 103, transcends time and beauty:
BLP: When you first heard you would be shooting the legendary Eva Ziesel, were you intimidated at all?
JB: Well, she’s had a long and storied life. I’m just happy to have had a small place in it.
BLP: Did you have an idea of how you wanted to shoot her? Or, did the shot come about more organically once you met her?
JB: Well, my first thoughts were that the whole series had the possibilities of being amazing – not just with Eva, but as a project, if the approach was correct. The continuity had to be decided upon early for the session to hold it all together. I wasn’t able to shoot everyone at the same time or location, I needed to decide on an approach that I could create over and over anywhere. It needed to be clean and simple but to have a strong graphic to it. I’m one of those few photographers that actually likes layouts, text and design on their images. And, in talking to the art director about the approach we knew it would worked well with the DWR brand.
BLP: What struck you the most about her: first as a person, then, as a designer, and finally as a subject behind your lens?
JB: With Eva, the first thing you think of with your approach is her age. She’s 103. Having never photograghed someone that age, it was hard to know what effect that would have or what she is capable of. What I did know is that I wanted to make sure she had a strong presence in the images and to really celebrate her. Her wit and spirit made the images amazing – She just shined.
BLP: Did she flirt with you? (Just kidding.)
JB: The whole session with Eva was really great. I had already shot the first portrait of the series in the studio and the approach worked well. Shooting her was going to be the first on location – so I was curious to see how it would play out.
BLP: We think it played out VERY well, Jim.
While Jim got to know Eva in front of his lens, you might enjoy getting to know Eva just a little more as she discusses her search in this TED video filmed in 2001 (and posted just two years ago). Enjoy!