Quatrine furniture made its humble beginnings in Long Beach, California in 1989. Since then, they have quickly morphed into the industry standard for slipcovered and upholstered furniture. This one-of-a kind furniture makes it easy to customize a home, and the beautiful designs are sure to make a statement in any room.
Manhattan Beach photographer Jeff Berting had been familiar with Quatrine furniture for a while and appreciated their local craft in an industry where most stock is produced by the thousands. Jeff reached out to founder Gina Quatrine about photographing her factory, with a special interest in the craftsmen. Gina coincidently needed photographs of her factory and they quickly agreed to work together.
Jeff’s style of shooting craftsmen has been met with a lot of merit from his clients. He continually tries to capture scenes that channel a story about the people through their work, creating a brand narrative. This type of work has been increasingly popular among Jeff’s clients.
Production planning for this project involved going over timing and logistics with Gina, and informing the employees about the shoot day. Jeff’s biggest challenge was making sure that the employees could go about their work smoothly while he and his team were photographing. Quatrine furniture still had their orders to fill and deadlines to meet, so Jeff was very conscientious about not disturbing the work flow of the factory. This was also important to him in terms of getting authentic work shots.
Jeff made sure to interact with the employees of the factory before starting to shoot. He wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable with the shoot, and he wanted to get a better idea of what the process was before making images about it.
I’d introduce myself and take a moment for them to explain what it is that they were working on and what the process was. This way I could get an idea of how to best represent the work in a single image.
A secondary challenge for Jeff’s team was warming up the workers to the camera. Real people can often be shy and timid in front of a camera, and Jeff needed an authentic work feel. He often told subjects not to look at the camera, which relieved and relaxed them.
Jeff’s favorite part about working with Quatrine furniture was getting to focus on the craftsmanship and detailed nature of expert workers making things with their hands. Jeff thinks of himself as a process guy, and valued the opportunity to learn from the craftsmen. He often looks for ways to improve his own work by observing those who are experts in their fields. He found himself looking through a little window into their unique world.
I believe that a person’s workspace says a lot about the person in a way that even they may not be able to articulate. It helps complete the story of who this person is and what they are like. Is it disorganized order or is everything exactly where it should be?
So far the reaction to the images from the project have been great. The images are being used by Quatrine furniture to promote the custom handcrafted aspect of their pieces made in America, and how that separates them from the mall-based furniture stores.
Since the shoot, Jeff has picked up work where the art director specifically referenced the images from Quatrine furniture and hired him for a similar style.
I think if you are able to blur the line between personal and professional work where one feeds the other then that’s a pretty good place to be.
To see more photography from Jeff, visit jeffberting.com.