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.