Deal Toys

CMM cover image.-1100px-jpg

Recently, I did some photography for Carter Morse & Mathias, a boutique investment bank based in Southport, Connecticut. Part of that project was creating the image above.  (Click on the image to see it in a LARGER size.)

You may be familiar with “tombstone” ads that appear in the financial press – announcements of deals such as mergers, acquisitions and stock offerings. A “deal toy” is a Lucite block of a tombstone ad – the ones pictured here are about 5 x 7 inches. The client wanted to represent as many of the deal toys as possible, in order to project the breadth of their experience over nearly 30 years in business.


This shows how I set up the shot. I used light blue paper as the background. The camera was set fairly close to deal toys – more about that below – fitted with a very wide angle lens. The lighting was all from one “strip box”  placed over the camera – a long, skinny softbox which produced the dramatic lighting.

This all seems pretty simple, right? But it took about 2 hours to set this image up. I’d take a test shot, then see that one of the Lucites had to be moved a fraction of an inch in one direction. I’d move it, then take another test shot.

There were two interesting challenges here.

First, the deal toys were shiny, so I had to figure out how to light them in such a way that we could see their reflective nature but not hide the lettering on each deal toy with reflections from the light source. Having the strip light set up high achieved this and also provided the dramatic lighting the client desired.

Second, we wanted to feature the main deal toy in a large size and have the others taper off on each side to much smaller sizes. To achieve this, I used a very wide angle lens, set quite close (about 18 inches)  to central deal toy. It is a 12-24mm Sigma zoom lens, set here at 13mm. This is very wide, almost in the “fisheye” range, which causes a fair amount of distortion on the sides of the frame. The Lucites were bending sharply at the edges – not good! I straightened them all out in Photoshop so everything lined up vertically.


Here’s the view from behind the camera. The sturdy tripod kept the image sharp. The little gizmo on top of the camera triggered the flash.

341 Studios, a marketing and graphic design firm based in Darien, Connecticut, did the website design for Carter Morse & Mathias. To match the image to the home page of the firm’s website, 341 Studios made some further refinements to the photograph. See how the final image looks on the firm’s website at Carter Morse & Mathias.

This was a challenging but fun learning experience – I’m now ready to shoot more deal toys!

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”


2 Responses

  1. Michele Graham says:

    The photo came out fantastic! Blake took the concept and ran with it. All that hard work paid off with a terrific home page banner photo.


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