A New Lens On The World Of Wine

On the heels of its opening reception, we sat down with the powerhouse creative women behind the MBH’s latest artistic offering – The Vinum Project “Wine In Focus.” Grab a glass and read on to get to know Vanessa Price, Creative Director and Founder of The Vinum Collective, and Michelle McSwain, professional portrait and lifestyle photographer and explore “the way we view, feel and taste wine”…

@Vanessa – You seem to wear many hats within the world of wine, please walk us through them and tell us how you got your start in this space.  

Getting into wine was a happy accident for me. I had a very truncated college experience and did University in a year and a half. So I had a very limited amount of time to work. I found a winery in downtown Louisville, KY (where I’m from) that was only open to the public two days a week which was perfect for my schedule. What started out as a college job ended up being a life passion. Today, I have a weekly wine and food pairing column in New York Magazine, I create different visual outlets in the spectrum of wine working with very talented photographers and producers, I teach for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (which is a globally recognized wine education entity) and Columbia University, I consult for wine lists and beverage programs in restaurants, I have an amazing day job working for Champagne Louis Roederer as an importer, and I’ve been writing a book for a long time that will hopefully be published one day!

@Michelle – What’s your first memory behind the camera and how did you become a photographer?

I got into photography in high school and fell in love with photographing people. I ended up studying photography in college and after I graduated I moved to NYC at 21 for a photo internship at a small studio. It was there that I really learned about studio lighting and retouching. Since then, I’ve done photo editing for several years for the New York Times and Yahoo, created two mobile photo Apps, and done commercial photography for several different brands.

You’ve been friends since childhood – is this your first professional collaboration or have there been others?

We’ve played around a couple of times throughout the years, but this is our first professional endeavor together.

The Vinum ProjectWhat was the first conversation you remembering having about the idea for this project?

We didn’t anticipate this is where it would go when we started. We were just having fun and realized we were onto something and kept going with it. Our style and aesthetic has definitely evolved over the last year and a half.

Working with friends can be challenging…tell the truth – did you butt heads at any point?

Believe it or not we work really well together and are a nice balance. We communicate whenever we have a creative difference and are able to talk things out rather than get emotional about it. We both are able to be upfront and give push back when we feel it is needed and both are always respectful and open to each other’s thoughts. Maybe it’s because we’ve known each other since we were 7 and 8 years old.

Were there any funny/unexpected moments from set?

Definitely. Vanessa disrobing in the dead of winter near the water in Brooklyn and continually tossing a champagne bottle in the air and trying not to miss. We’ve had to get renegade with hiding wine on the street which has led to some hilarious moments. And all the times Michelle has crawled into crazy positions to get the shot.

Do either of you have a favorite image from the series? Why or why not?The Vinum Project

For both of us, we have to say “The Bottle” because it was such a happy accident. It wasn’t the shot we were planning for but the sunlight hit the bottle just right and we snapped the shot. No one believes us that it wasn’t created with studio light.

@Vanessa – ask Michelle a question…

“Michelle, what do you hope people take away from this show?”

Some of our work for their home! Haha, but really, I hope people have fun with the show and see wine in a new perspective…one that is bright and fun rather than stuffy.

@Michelle – ask Vanessa a question…

“Vanessa, when did you first think we could be onto something bigger than just playing around taking photos for fun?”

When we shot in Brooklyn last Fall with the mini studio for the first time and started experimenting using the studio lights. That’s when I felt we were onto something different, finding moments that were unique and fresh and it invigorated me.

The Vinum Project@Vanessa – if Michelle were a wine, which would she be?

Michelle would be a white Rioja. Rioja is a classic wine growing region but their whites are much less known. They are experiencing a Renaissance today much like I think the world is starting to discover Michelle’s talents. The wines are very unique because they have subtle aromas but a lot of strength and flavor on the palette. This reminds me of her because she is so kind and patient you might not realize how tough she is. White Rioja is a personal favorite.

@Michelle – if Vanessa were a wine, which would she be?

Vanessa would be a bottle of bubbles! I don’t know enough about wine to get super specific with the details, but she’s definitely Champagne. Vanessa brings a burst of energy to everything she does. No matter what time of day, she’s bright and full of sparkle which is completely contagious. She truly brings the “fun” to every experience no matter how small, just like a bottle of Champagne.

Shameless plug time – any upcoming projects we should keep an eye out for? Any more combined efforts perhaps? 

We’re looking to take this show on the road! If anyone has a gallery space or is interested in working with us in NY or LA or anywhere else, let us know!