Architectural photographer Christopher Payne seeks out unique subject matter to shoot, often choosing to delve into industrial settings and explore overlooked manufacturing processes. His newest collection, Making Steinway: An American Workplace, features a series of compositions collected on a visit to the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria, New York. His beautiful images trace the transformation of raw materials into the recognizable gleaming grand pianos, celebrating the skilled labour and attention to detail that is poured into each creation.
Steinway & Sons is an American and German company, widely known for its luxury grand pianos. Founded in 1853 in Manhattan, New York, the company was built upon a philosophy that seeks to produce the best piano possible; today it is recognized internationally for its quality instruments. Payne originally toured the Steinway & Sons factory in 2002, but recently deciding to return to the location and create a project that revolves around the assembly of the iconic instruments.
Motivated by the passing of his father and grandfather (both pianists), Payne seeks to examine the form of the piano by its constituent parts, exploring the craftsmanship that is required for its production. He states that this craft is slowly disappearing from the American workplace, and he wishes to celebrate the assembly of the piece by deconstructing its process. In his project statement, Payne explains: “After spending countless hours photographing the choreographies of production and scrutinizing the parts and pieces that will never be visible outside the factory, I came to realize that a piano is one of the supreme acts of human invention and imagination.”
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All images via Christopher Payne.