What would you expect to see in a book like this?
January 25, 2015 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Currently designing a photo-book about a line of Oriental scents. What kind of world do you expect to be immersed in? Are there any other photo-books which were successful in luring you in to their world?
posted by omar.a to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Any way to include scent strips or vials of fragrance? Because looking at fragrance? That seems sort of weird. I'm assuming you're taking pictures of flowers, spices, oils or perfume bottles. If you could elaborate on this, it would be helpful because as a rando on the internet, I'm scratching my head about the concept of what you'd be showing in the photos.

I do own some photo-books, and one of my favorites is Tiffany Taste. It's pictures of gorgeous table settings using Tiffany tableware. So very specific and very visual.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:28 AM on January 25, 2015

You do know this kind of slick "Orientalism" is not in the best cultural repute, yes?

That said, you could do tasteful photos of Asian props. Keep the palette of colours simple. Black surface, black rice bowl, black lacquered chopsticks, white rice, single red flower in vase. Maybe a scroll with a single Chinese or Japanese character on it, in brushstrokes.

Or look into the aesthetic of the tea ceremony. Or look at photos of Buddhist, Taoist, Shinto temples.

It would be easy enough to mock something like this up. Even while disapproving of the facile appropriation of eastern cultures.
posted by zadcat at 12:58 PM on January 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I guess I don't know what a photo-book is, and googling is bringing up Snapfish and its ilk. If we're talking about some kind of advertisement for the scent, and not a coffee-table book, then I'm even more confused.

I agree, It would be trite and racist to show typical "Asian" stuff Frankly shouldn't this have been explicitly spelled out in the marketing strategy? What mood or feeling ARE they going for? Who is the customer? What would appeal to the customer?

If you're the one coming up with the ideas to pitch them, you need to understand WAY more about the scent, and all of the other marketing jazz.

Again, please provide context and more information and we might be able to help more.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:45 PM on January 25, 2015

You do know this kind of slick "Orientalism" is not in the best cultural repute, yes?

"Oriental" is the name of a type/family of fragrance; the word in this context has very little to do with Asian culture. It's still a problematic term and I'm not a fan of it, but I don't know of any widely accepted replacement for it in perfume speak (yet). I am guessing this is what the OP means by "oriental," rather than cultural appropriation. (OP, please correct me if I've misinterpreted this.)

As for the question: I love perfume, and I love good photography, but I'm having trouble connecting the two in my mind. I can't help but think of those perfume ads from the 90s that had a bunch of artsy scenes followed by the name of the perfume; they were an easy target for jokes because what does a door frame on the beach have to do with fragrance?

To get good answers, you may have to specify who this book/line of fragrance is for. Is this a marketing thing? Are you creating this book as a fan?
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:46 PM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: A few clarifications:
- Although the word "Orient" encompasses the Middle East and the Far East, I am more interested in the Arabian Orient.
- I am well aware of the ill-reputable Orientalist aspects of the project and the risk of confusing the representation of the exoticism of the Orient with the Occident's deliberate mystification of the Orient as the "Other".
- It qualifies as marketing material and is as close to a coffee table book as can be, which is why I thought I could present the lineup of fragrances in a kind of story. I was looking at a unifying concept or starting point. An oasis in the middle of the desert perhaps? I'm still thinking about it and refining it.
posted by omar.a at 2:37 PM on January 25, 2015

When I think of frangrances in the oriental family, I think of a very diverse group of scents like dark warm amber, balsams, and myrrh; mosses; patchoulis; florals like jasmine, orchid, and ylang ylang; spices like cardamon, ginger, nutmeg; and pepper; deep, woodsy aromas like sandalwood, rosewood, and cedar; and citrus fruits like bergamot and mandarin oranges.
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:14 PM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sounds really cool. I love perfume.

Per your update, I agree with Dr. Zira regarding the fragrances your description evokes and I'm also reminded of the beautiful, almost mosque-looking bottles that the Wise Men carried to Jesus (sorry; I'm an American cliche), along with beautiful silk things and hookahs and mystery and warm, mauvey colors. I like the oasis imagery.
posted by Punctual at 4:39 PM on January 25, 2015

What about using some art from the period? Mongol court paintings are gorgeous and there's lots of textiles and architectural details to use as design elements. Picking one piece or a series would give you a historical aesthetic to anchor the book to, lending the perfume a sense of history and place too.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:39 PM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Exotic travel, market spices, incense, The Silk Road, mystery, neutral palates, a sense of walking into a foreign land and being surrounded by textures and tastes and smells you've never encountered before.

Oriental perfumes are all about spice: clove, cinnamon, smoky vanilla, patchouli, incense. Heavy, rich, decadent, powerful scents. Your book should reflect this.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:06 AM on January 26, 2015

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