If you read the Food Section of The Washington Post, you’ve seen Renee Comet’s photography. I met her years ago on a shoot for a short-lived Food Network publication, and have followed her work ever since. I’m used to drooling over her food photography, obviously, but I took a double take recently when I saw flowers on her Instagram feed. Turns out, she does a lot of work in this area, too. She shoots for the Society of American Florists—AND for the U.S. Postal Service!
Here are the latest wedding stamps, which she shot in partnership with art director (and local graphic designer) Ethel Kessler:
There are so many things I love about these stamps. Most of all, they’re not the typical puffy, white-and-pink froufrou bouquets that normally symbolize a wedding—and that’s on purpose, Ethel told me. Weddings are so much different these days, on so many levels: More people are throwing DIY affairs, many more weddings are casual—a logical offshoot of registries eschewing china and sterling silver for everyday plates and grilling gear—and, yes, not all weddings are between a man and a woman. So why have a fancy bouquet on a wedding stamp that needs to appeal to a broader audience?
“I wasn’t sure what we were going to photograph. We brainstormed a lot—so much is possible,” Ethel says. All that brainstorming came to the conclusion that the team wanted to use flowers that were distinctly non-traditional, just like most weddings are today.
Renee contacted local floral designer Carol Caggiano for help. On the day of the shoot, Ethel says, “she brought bins and bins of flowers!” Ethel was kind enough to provide a behind-the-scenes peek:
Carol got to work experimenting while Renee was at the ready with her camera.
“Basically, you’re trying to come up with an idea that fits on the size of a postage stamp,” Renee says. “On the monitor, it looks great—nice and big,” but once you scale an image down to stamp size, what might seem soft and light and airy at first “looks like a fuzzball when it’s that small.”
These were some of the options they tried for the new wedding stamps:
And this one is closer to the winning design:
See how it looks like Carol is pushing one of the berries up? As a floral designer, Renee says, “it’s just like being a food stylist.” Flowers move during a photo shoot, just like food does (imagine keeping a strawberry poised just so on top of ice cream). “It’s kind of like cooking,” she adds. “You keep culling it down and down and down until you get something graphic.”
(For Carol’s point of view, see this great interview she did for a florist blog about that process.)
“In the course of the day, she kept making boutonnieres and corsages—and she brought so many ribbons,” Ethel says. I am LOVING the burlap-type cords and ribbons she used on the boutonniere and corsage that made the final cut. Modern and rustic at the same time.
The shoot took more than seven hours, if you can believe it, because it took so much time to find the right combination. “It’s very challenging to love something at a normal size, and then realize it’s going to be one-tenth of that size,” Ethel explains. “What works in your mind does not necessarily work in reality at stamp size.”
Renee and Ethel have worked together on stamps before. The last set of wedding stamps they did was in 2009, when they portrayed a wedding cake and gold wedding bands.
I’m so glad that latest batch of stamps shows not only more color but unexpected flowers and materials. “There were some fabulous, fabulous varieties of flowers that had probably not been used before [during the shoot],” Ethel says. Three cheers to Renee, Ethel and Carol for breaking from tradition!
Click here to go to the USPS site if you want some of these stamps for yourself.