Testing my metal: Capturing the individual character of spectacular ironmongery


When local ironmonger Alex Pole got in touch I couldn’t have been more excited. I’d seen his wonderful work and as I took the hour’s scenic drive down to his Dorset farmhouse my mind was alight  considering lighting, props and context for the variety of items we were to shoot that day.

From hooks to handles, firedogs to fixings, chopping boards to curtain poles and so much more besides, Alex’s high quality metalwork ‘home & garden’ creations are both beautiful to look at and functional in their make up – you can see Alex’s work on the his website here 

In his farmhouse kitchen, featuring many of his pieces I’d like in my own kitchen, we enjoyed a pre-shoot cuppa and referenced previous photographic images he’d used to ensure a degree of consistency. This was to be more of an evolution that revolution for his collection.

It was great to note that both myself and Alex were adamant that each item should be shot in context rather than the usual dry, lifeless ‘lightbox’ treatment that is so commonplace. It was to be a collaborative mood that went through the day – making it all the more enjoyable in the process!


As I played around with different background textures, colours and staging the unique character of each piece began to develop in intensity. 


The natural colouration of the metal reacted to different lighting conditions, adding new characteristics to each shot. Wooden backgrounds such as unpainted fireplace surrounds and chopping boards provided real depth to the pieces, making them stand out for the lens. And, in selecting complementary items such as the distressed garden door elevated the inherent strength of the mottled knife hanging from it against the fragility of it’s crumbling paintwork.

Ribbet collage

All in all it was a fantastic day’s shoot, hugely enjoyable and a pleasure to collaborate with another artistic soul. 

Check out Alex’s great work and get your hands on some of it. It will really add something special to your home or garden and provide a lifetime of pleasure, not only to look at but also to use.