In 2004 Stefano Tonchi too the helm of the New York Times Fashion of the Times section, where I’d been shooting for a few years with the 2X4, the design studio. The next six years saw me working with art director David Sebbar, men’s fashion editor Bruce Pask, accessories editor Karla Martinez, food editor Amanda Hess, and Architectural design editor Viladas Pilar to create these challenging multi-item pages.

The idea to shoot the objects on a white background, without shadow, came first. We tried to give the pages a distinctive look that relied on visual consistency, whether we were shooting a ring or a sofa, an octopus or a refrigerator.

The concept worked for years, until Stefano left the Times to become Editor in Chief of W Magazine and internet e-commerce took ownership of the on-white background style. (Ironically, Amazon a few years ago tried, unsuccessfully, to patent “shooting on white.”)

Irving Penn and Richard Avedon were the first to take the simple “white” route. Now we’re back to shooting with color backgrounds and props.