The ZEISS Art Calendar is published once a year and contains pictures of well-known figures taken by a celebrated photographer. For the 2014 calendar, Mary McCartney created classic black-and-white images set in New York City with Alec Baldwin and Gemma Arterton, using analog film.
A man, a woman. A couple in front of the camera in a popular place. It sounds like a simple concept, but it requires talent. This concept has delighted the friends and customers of ZEISS who have received the ZEISS Art Calendar in previous years. For the fifth time in a row, the premium lens manufacturer followed this approach again. For the 2014 calendar, entitled “Moments in the City“, ZEISS engaged Mary McCartney, who is known for her expressive and very personal portrait photography. “When I was approached, I already knew that ZEISS brought out a calendar each year. I really liked the idea, because as a photographer ZEISS has an absolutely excellent reputation,” says McCartney about her motivation to help style the calendar.
Next, McCartney thought about how to give shape to the calendar theme. For the couple she chose the well-known Hollywood actors Alec Baldwin (“Aviator“, “Getaway“, “Blue Jasmine“) and Gemma Arterton (“A Quantum of Solace“, “Hansel and Gretel“). For the location she selected New York City. “The basic concept of the calendar was explained to me. Until now it always relied on a man and woman as a couple. I developed this idea further: this man and this woman have just met each other. It is early in the morning. They have just come back from a black tie party which they were both invited to the night before. She is from England and he is from New York. And he invites her to explore the city with him,” explains McCartney.
Though digital photography is ubiquitous these days, Mary McCartney wanted to capture the charm of New York, and in particular Manhattan in the early morning light, in a classic, old-fashioned way. She therefore photographed on black-and-white analog film, which gives her images a timeless feel. Looking at her images, connoisseurs of traditional black-and-white photography will be reminded a bit of the legendary images by Andreas Feininger (“New York in the Forties“).
For her photographic work, McCartney had a wide range of the latest ZEISS lenses at her disposal: Distagon T* 2,8/15 ZF.2, Distagon T* 2/25 ZF.2, Distagon T* 1,4/35, Planar T* 1,4/50 ZF.2, Planar T* 1,4/85 ZF.2, Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZF.2, Biogon T*2,8/25 ZM and C Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM. During the shooting, all eight lenses were used, depending on her preferences with regard to perspective. She used the classic portrait lens Planar T* 1,4/85 as well as the C Sonnar T* 1.5/50. This lens is based on the classic Sonnar T* 1,5/50 of the 1930s and, thanks to its harmonious bokeh and attractive 3D images, fit very well with the analog technology selected by McCartney.
“I really enjoyed working with ZEISS lenses. Together with the 400 ISO TRI-X black-and-white film I used, images were created that really bring out the lenses’ imaging performance regarding sharpness and tonal values. During the photo shoot, I used various different lenses with different focal lengths and image perspectives, from a wide angle to intimate close-ups.”
A select group of invited guests was able to experience the extraordinary intensity of McCartney’s images live during a festive “First View” event with the photographer herself on October 21, 2013 in the House of Photography in the Deichtorhallen exhibition halls in Hamburg, Germany. For Michael Kaschke, CEO of Carl Zeiss AG, it was a more than adequate setting: “The importance of the ZEISS Art Calendar lies in its special combination of art and technology. On the one hand, we make high-quality lenses that photographers can use to make fantastic pictures. And vice versa, these pictures motivate our employees to continue developing technology.” Once again, this year’s exclusive calendar, which appears in a limited edition, is for the friends and customers of ZEISS. They will receive the calendar as an annual gift.