Spending A Day In Wine Heaven


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As a wine geek, getting a call from Adrian Delucca asking if I wanted to spend a day photographing Tom Ryder in his World-Class wine cellar, made me extremely happy that I do what I do for a living. Tom has been the President of American Express Publishing, CEO of Readers Digest and was the Chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America, and over the years has amassed a truly amazing wine collection. He was writing a feature for Barron’s that discussed how the bottom has fallen out of the wine collecting (as an investment) market and told his own story of when he auctioned off a small portion of his own cellar. As part of the process, he had the auction house appraise the wines he wanted to sell and was shocked to learn that the 1,000 bottles he was looking to divest would ‘only’ fetch between $70,000 – $100,000…but if he were to sell only three Magnum bottles of his 2005 Romanee-Conti he would get roughly the same $100,000! It was my job to show him with those three bottles of very pricy DRC. Here’s how it went…

Nick and I started by stacking up cases of his very best Grand Cru Burgundies that would be our posing table…


…and then cleaned up the background a bit…


Nick enjoying the view from the stacks…


…but Tom fit the mood a bit more…

Thomas O. Ryder

Because of the tight quarters in the cellar, we were kind of limited with what we could do, lighting-wise, but we pulled off a nice, warm and dramatic look with only two lights…an Elinchrom 39″ Mini Octa high and to the right of the camera, and a Ringlight…that’s it!

Our final select, with the three Magnums of DRC valued at $100,000 (and those messy cases behind him cleaned up in post )…


And here’s how it looked in the magazine…



5 thoughts on “Spending A Day In Wine Heaven

  1. Simple – yet it works all well! Excellent results come sometimes from such contraints like a small cellar room 🙂
    Great job of the amazing colleaction and collector, well done!

  2. Amazing work Brad! One question: the ringlight was coming from the front? If yes, how do you manage to avoid the reflections of the ring in the bottles?
    Thanks in advance man!

    And on the Seventh Day, God invented Photoshop!

    If you look at that shot, you’ll see the rings! BT

  3. Love the final portrait. Ugh…cleaning up all those torn-off labels on the boxes….the poor post-processor!

    Thanks, but the poor post-processor would be ME!!! BT

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