With a range of specialist sales every year, our ever-growing Photography team are always busy capturing photographs of the unique and intriguing objects that come through our doors. Whether its a location shoot at a stunning country home, catalogue shots of individual lots or content imagery of our team and offices, the team thrives in capturing all that we do at Sworders. We had the chance to catch up with the department and get an insight into their day to day roles.
20 December 2022
Playing an essential role in the sale process and marketing of indivudal lots and specialist sales, our Photography department is made up of a team of 5 individuals, all whom excel behind the camera lens.
Starting with just one team member back in 2013, the team has rapidly expanded to cope with demand for lots of extra images now that more and more of our customers choose to buy online. Fast forward to 2022, with 4 more members, the team now work very closely as a team and are always sharing ideas and knowledge with one another to hone and perfect their skills.
All our photographers use Canon cameras and use a variety of different lenses to suit what they may be photographing. A macro lens is essential for capturing small details when photographing jewellery or coins, whilst a wide-angle lens is great for location shoots. Other than their cameras, one of the most important pieces of equipment used by our team use are their tripods, because they eliminate camera shake and result in the crisp images you see online and in our catalogues.
Stephen was the first to join our Photography team in 2013 and for a number of years worked single-handedly, photographing a number of sales. Despite experience across a number of sales, he favours photographing the old and quirky items that come through our saleroom doors. Recently his efforts concentrate on photographing the Design and Fine Jewellery sales, but is excited to soon be taking on the photography for our Old Master, British & European Art sale.
"I have learnt a lot from others in the team; watching how others approach arty shots and general layouts and compositions"
When approaching the set up of a photograph, Stephen focuses on making the object in question clear and sharp, and ensures all areas are covered for web shots, so people are able to see an object in detail. Keeping a close eye on general advertising, both online and in shops, he takes inspiration from a range of areas.
"I enjoy photographing Jewellery the most, as it's delicate and I am able to appreciate the incredible skill it takes to produce the objects"
Fine Wine & Spirits, November 2022 | Modern & Contemporary Art, October 2022 | Fine Interiors, December 2022
Marianne joined the team in January 2019, and started off her career at Sworders taking photographs for the Homes and Interiors sale, which provided her a great introduction to the world of Art and Antiques. Today, her primary focus is the Fine Interiors sale, which takes place four times a year.
With a degree in Fine Art, she enjoys photographing the huge variety of paintings, prints and sculptures that feature in the Modern & Contemporary Art sales.
"It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to see and photograph works by artists whose pieces I have previously admired from afar on gallery walls"
When approaching the staging of a shot, Marianne explains she has learnt that often less is more; sometimes the best shots are those where it is kept simple.
"In most cases the objects speak for themselves and the key to creating a good image is attention to detail- for example, using lighting to give jewellery extra sparkle and bring out the vibrant colours of the jewels. Composition is also important and I always aim to accentuate what is already there- seeking to highlight an item’s design by thinking about the angle of the shot, or creatively framing an image to capture an object’s most interesting or distinguishing details"
She takes inspiration by scrolling through Instagram, following lots of Homes and Interiors accounts to keep an eye on upcoming trends and considering ideas which the team can incorporate into their photography. After seeing a big shift towards sustainability in her research online, Marianne advises this is great to see as recycling and reusing is at the heart of what we do.
"I love that lots of the items that we sell, regardless of age, can be incorporated really well into contemporary interiors."
Marianne enjoys the opportunity to work across many different sales, with every day being unique. The most enjoyable part of the role for her, is having the freedom to be creative and try something new. The team work closely with Department Heads and the Marketing team to produce a variety of images to advertise and promote our sales and whilst it can be challenging to come up with original ideas, they advise it is also great fun to have the opportunity to experiment.
"I have had the opportunity to visit and photograph some beautiful properties whilst at Sworders, but it is always lovely get outdoors and shoot outside. With the beautiful Essex countryside right on our doorstep I like to seize the opportunity to make the most of Sworder’s location as much as possible. One of the first Fine Interiors sales I worked on involved photographing fifty lots of silver outside on a blisteringly hot summer’s day but I was really pleased with the resulting shots of the silver set amongst lavender."
Design, October 2022 | Asian Art, November 2022 | Fine Jewellery & Watches, June 2022
Meg joined Sworders in April 2021 and up until recently worked mainly on the Homes & Interiors, Wine and Books sales, but now photographs a wider range of the sales. She enjoys photographing ceramics and pottery, as there is such a variety in shape, size and texture, and tells us shooting a group shot allows you creative freedom in playing around with the composition and negative space
"When it comes to staging a photograph, I like to look at the colours and textures of the objects I am shooting and then play around with composition from there. After that I add lighting to create atmosphere. I like to play around with the mood of a shot, often drawing inspiration from the season and adding plants (or sometimes even fruit!) to give the objects a sense of place."
With a keen interest in design and the arts, Meg reads a range of interior design publications to keep updated with styles and trends. She often takes inspiration from old painters such as Cezanne and his still life paintings when setting up a shot, telling us it is amazing how inspiration can strike when you least expect it.
"I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite sale that I have worked on, they are all so interesting in different ways. For me one of the most enjoyable parts of photographing a sale is working with different valuers, the Portering team, and learning about the objects that go into sale."
After visiting many sites and locations over the years, Meg most enjoyed visiting R.J Washington's studio and photographing his ceramics. Walking around his studio just as he had left it, allowed an intriguing insight int his creative process.
"There are so many weird and wonderful items that I have photographed, but personally I really like the items with a story behind them. For me, anything from Troika or Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson are always a joy to shoot!"
Millie has worked at Sworders for nearly 3 years, after joining the team in January 2020. She works across a range of sales from Jewellery to Asian Art, and Modern & Contemporary Art to Fine Interiors. As well as taking inspiration from magazines and our own saleroom, Millie also gets new ideas from social media, where she is keen to find new ideas and experiment in different styles.
"Across different departments the photography has different styles, so it depends on what sale you are working on as to how you approach it. It also depends on what you are photographing in terms of size and shape. Different things tend to lend themselves to different layouts and compositions."
Millie particularly enjoys location shoots, and loves the variety in what can be expected. From visiting country houses tucked away in villages, to beautiful shop fronts in Pimlico- no shoot is ever the same. She enjoys visiting the different locations and admiring all the treasures she then photographs inside.
"I have learned a great amount in my time here and gained an interest in the world of art and antiques. I have also developed a desire to fill my home with beautiful things, which I believe is a blessing but my family might think otherwise!"
Let there be Light - The Christopher Butterworth Collection, April 2022 | The Jan Finch Collection, November 2022 | July Monthly Jewellery
James is the newest addition to the Photography team, after joining Sworders in March 2022, and currently photographs our regular Homes & Interiors auctions. After photographing a range of items, from the obscure to regular categories within the sale, he has found he particularly favours photographing pottery due to the ranging shapes and colours.
"I have learnt lots about the history and value of items, from being in the auction environment without even realising"
Like the rest of the team, he follows photography and interior styling pages on social media to ensure he is always on the look out for new trends and ideas.
"For marketing shots, when approaching the composition, I try to create a balance of size and colour in the shot, ensuring all items are clearly visible for larger group shots"
James has enjoyed photographing Militaria items in our Homes & Interiors auctions, and has found it interesting to learn more about the history behind firearms and swords that are up for auction. Visiting local estates to shoot items in situ allows James the opportunity to capture pieces in their unique locations and maximise the look of lots in aesthetic interiors.
"I enjoyed having the chance to produce some marketing images for the Out of the Ordinary sale, which featured the court case files from the Kray twin’s trial. It was really interesting"
To take a look at the teams work and stay up to date witht the latest news, follow us on Instagram @swordersfineart
A fine commode, believed to be by John Cobb (1715-1778), arguably one of England's greatest furniture makers, comes up for sale in Dick Turpin | The Legend Lives On to be held on 25 January.
7 December 2023
Sworders are pleased to present a selection of antique and vintage textiles in our December Fine Interiors sale, including items from the collection of the late Hildegard Heygate.
4 December 2023
It is with great pleasure that we announce that Emma Barnett has been appointed as Head of Department with responsibility for the future development of our Homes and Interiors sales – Emma has been with Sworders for some time, but as she now moves into this pivotal role, we would like to take this opportunity to introduce her to you.
30 November 2023