York Wallcoverings Hits the Runway

When I heard about York Wallcoverings, I imagined a store with a collection of wallpaper that I would typically only see in my grandmother’s house, and that’s one perception about wallcoverings: old-fashioned, mundane colors. But once I witnessed a new side of this business, I realized that the company has an intricate process of making unique, modern wallpaper.

Did you ever want to step out and do something different for a change? If you answered yes, you join the company of many people and businesses that include York Wallcoverings. As the oldest and largest wallcoverings manufacturer in the United States, the company also has an eye to its future and its brand reputation. To make its wallpaper appealing to a younger audience, York Wallcoverings wanted to highlight its designs through photography as part of a national ad campaign, and it was seeking a highly visual creative partner to do it. Enter YRK Creative.

YRK Creative and York Wallcoverings collaborated on this photography effort, and with the help of moodboards, sample visuals that help direct the feel, tone, and style of a project, we were able to create the vision. Now it was time to find the props, and a model, along with stylists and outfits. The day before the photo shoot took place, I was asked to attend, and I am so happy that I did.

I arrived at York Wallcoverings at 8 a.m. on June 27. I walked up the steps to the visitor entrance, hesitant at where I was supposed to be, and waited for YRK Creative photographer Eric Forberger, with only the sound of the ticking clock to keep me company. I had no idea what to expect out of the day, but I knew that this photo shoot could not be possible without him.

Eric came inside a few moments after me with camera and props in tow. We were greeted by the York Wallcoverings team and lead through the seemingly never-ending maze that is York Wallcoverings. I was lost within the first minute. We walked past factory equipment from the 1800s that was still in use and wallpaper so alluring that I felt as though it should be framed in an art museum. Finally, we were taken to a back room on the top floor of the factory building. Four different sections of wallpaper were arranged throughout the room, and countless props covered the table in the center of the room. I knew that something special was going to come out of these four walls by the end of the day, especially when I learned how much time it took to figure out exactly where this photo shoot would take place.

I helped bring in materials from Eric’s vehicle, and each time that I came back, he had unloaded more of his lights and umbrellas. I could not believe how compact his supplies started out and how full the room was once he finished setting up.

YRK Creative’s CEO and Creative Director Breanna Shorten soon arrived with the photo model, Brynn, along with the hair and makeup team. Brynn had already had her makeup completed, and she looked beautiful. The photo concept was a distinctive one: showcase different styles of wallpaper with a model wearing dresses that match the style of each wallcovering design. Working with the York Wallcoverings’ graphic designer, we knew how the ads would be designed, including where the ad copy would appear. This understanding gave Eric better insight on how to organize each shot.

The photo shoot began slowly, but soon it moved at a fast pace as we traveled from one set to another. We varied the types of props being used, and at one point, I was even able to put together a set. It was inspiring watching all of these talented people work together to create something special. Everyone in that room was dedicated to the same goal, but we all had a different role in the process. In turn, this collaboration resulted in some incredible photos. I was highly impressed with Eric Forberger’s techniques, and it was mesmerizing watching him work. From a betta fish in a martini glass to red roses in front of a blue-and-white-patterned wall, so many elements went into each arrangement.

By the end of the day, Eric had shot about 650 photos. The York Wallcoverings team now had the difficult task of narrowing down the images to 10—tough choices to make. Brynn looked marvelous in all of the photos, and the lighting was simply beautiful. Once the team selected the photos, everyone worked together to pack up and return all of the props to their respective homes. The scenes we had all worked so hard to create were stripped to their bare beginnings. I was excited to witness this entire process and to be able to be a part of it was significant to me.

At one point, Eric was asked what his favorite kind of photo shoot to do is. He answered, “This.” He said he loves being able to dictate the lighting and choose the entire set and the mood of the photo in a controlled environment. I found his choice of photo type surprising because I always assumed that all of those additional details seemed like they took too much time to consider. As a photographer, though, Eric sees those elements as a part of the overall product: He sees it as an art form. And he is right; it is one thing to be able to see photos produced for an ad appearing in a magazine and to see that beauty for what it is. It is an entirely different matter to be behind the scenes and witness every wardrobe change, light adjustment, and creative idea that happens on the set of a photo shoot in progress. Look for these photos soon as part of a national campaign with ads in four different home and design publications.