It is rare that an artist’s beauty competes with the beauty of her own creations. What do you highlight in her photography? In Lillian Gorbachincky of Cosmopolitan Glass case, both.
Lillian Gorbachincky is the visionary, founder, and president of Cosmopolitan Glass, NYC-based industry’s leading manufacturer of custom architectural and decorative laminated glass. With the production facility in Brooklyn and upcoming showroom in Manhattan, the artisan earned respect and acknowledgement of the architectural and design community both in New York and nationwide. Her masterpieces already graced the pages of the Architectural Digest, the international design authority featuring the work of top architects and designers. I’m yet to visit her alchemistic factory but I hear it is equipped with state-of-the-art computerized equipment and sports in-house laminating, water jet precision cutting, polishing, mitering, beveling, sandblasting, and painting.
While her laminated decorative and architectural glass masterpieces are spreading around the country from Tiffany & Co. store fronts to residential dining rooms and shower doors, it is Lillian Gorbachincky’s home that can serve as a real-life showroom, pleasing the creator’s eyes and those of her guests. Remember me jumping out of a photoshoot in the woods into a cosmopolitan birthday party a few weeks ago? That was one stylish house party, and it was my first visit to her house. We were supposed to do some chic portraits before the party but I realize now how limited they would have been—there are too many jewels to cover even during the all-day photoshoot, let alone in a few hours.
We decided I’d come back, this time fully loaded with my studio lighting equipment and having as many hours to shoot as we can handle. I doubted that I would be able to go through all the exhibits in an artistically thoughtful fashion. I only covered one of the three floors, speeding up towards the end. After 13 hours I started to feel the exhaustion, affecting the energy and quality. I didn’t eat and went to the restroom once: developing poses and working those lights is an involving process, folks. Some will be surprised how much effort a seemingly basic pose required, even for a professional studio photographer with more than a decade of experience. One of Lillian Gorbachincky’s food breaks was in the middle of a set as she was lying on the glass pedestals, fed by her partner and caring husband, doubling as a skilled house chef (check out that sick behind-the-scene video at the end).
And there comes that conundrum—whom do you give more attention, the model or the product? In my beauty or fashion/commercial photography, it is usually one or another, you don’t want to steal one’s impact from the other. Posing, lighting, composition, and focusing help funnel viewer’s attention to a more prevailing subject. Not this time. Before I met her, I thought of Lillian Gorbachincky as a private client interested in narrating her beauty and style. Then she surrounds herself with Cosmopolitan Glass treasures coming down from the pages of luxurious publications which need to be photographed in their own, commercial way. I brought lots of lights and special effect equipment but alas, didn’t get to use much of it. In the interests of time, some solid and basic techniques sufficed. I mean, there could have been some conceptual elements added. It is something difficult to readily pull off…
So my task was to not only bring up all of Lillian’s beauty but also equally showcase her chefs d’oeuvre, throwing my light left and right. Shooting reflective glass and textured metal presents unique challenges. I tried both dramatic and clean setups. Lillian Gorbachincky is one heck of the fashionista (check out her wardrobe room which I briefly used in an earlier photoshoot) so we had a variety of outfits to choose from and to style those exquisite Roberto Cavalli, Chanel, and Fendi dresses. Dilya and Madina from Delacqua Salon provided professional hair and makeup throughout the entire shoot. Oh, and three of her four children helped, too!
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