When photographer David Brandy thinks of his family cottage, he pictures a shiny red canoe wading in the lake, a golden retriever on the dock preparing to dive, and a bonfire sparking on a summer’s night. But he also thinks of the small, intimate details that make the Brandy cottage one-of-a-kind, like the way his daughters hang their shorts to dry in a perfect row on the bannister, the smell of cedar, and the bird’s nest that’s tucked away on a windowsill. Memories of the cottage are a combination of classic iconography—like Muskoka chairs, canoes and docks—but also the unique features that make each family’s cottage a special, cherished place.
With The Art of the Cottage, David captures all of these moments, the beautiful and uncanny. Essentially, The Art of the Cottage is a customized art book featuring original photography of your cottage life. David visits your cottage and photographs what he sees as the essence of your cottage experience. After photographing the space, he transforms the images into a seamless narrative with an exquisite hardbound book. Creating the book is a collaborative process between David and the client, where the client helps choose photos and finalize layouts.
“This book becomes a treasured family heirloom,” David says. “The Art of the Cottage is a curated book that captures moments in history that will live on, telling the story of this family’s most important, intimate aspects of their life and experiences at the cottage.”
We spoke with David about The Art of the Cottage, the inspiration behind it, and his most cherished memories at his Muskoka cottage.
What is The Art of the Cottage?
The Art of the Cottage is your very own “art book” that reflects the essence of your life at the cottage. You know those beautiful coffee table books you see at Indigo/Chapters that catch your eye? This book is exactly that, except the content of the book is filled with candid and artistic photos that reflect your cottage life! It is a deeply personal and artistic keepsake—you will be proud to display it at the cottage or at home, or both!
What was the inspiration behind The Art of the Cottage?
The inspiration came from reactions to my own collection of photos that I’ve taken at my cottage and at friends’ cottages. People tell me they love my creative approach to photography and how authentically I captured their cottage experience. I strive to capture an angle or perspective that evokes a sense of the “uncanny”—a mixture of the familiar and unfamiliar that leads to unexpected feelings toward the subject matter. The Art of the Cottage is the perfect vehicle to exhibit my passion for photography and cottage life, and to create a truly unique offering.
How do these customized photo books differ from a family-made scrapbook?
I offer an outside voice. As an artist, I look for the art found in their life at the cottage—be that in the people, the things around and on the property, the landscape, the buildings. This is not a yearbook or a “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” book. It’s an art book showing the artistic essence of their cottage life, a book filled with images only the client will relate to and love! I want The Art of the Cottage to tell the story of what makes the people at this cottage happy. I want to show them what it is that makes them love their sacred place.
What is your first memory of your family’s cottage?
Our cottage was built in the 1960s. It is not winterized; it remains a true summer cottage. The interior walls of the cottage are made of cedar planking that has many coats of clear varnish, so you can see the beauty of the cedar’s colour, grain, and knots. My first memory of the cottage is the first time I walked inside it. All I could smell was cedar. It was so amazing! To this day, that same beautiful scent is still there nearly 40 years later. It’s one of my favourite things about the place.
What is your own cottage experience like now?
I started going to our cottage when I was 18-years-old. I got engaged at my cottage. I took my girlfriend at the time out in our boat and we went down to an isolated bay, climbed up the hillside, and sat down to view the lake. At that moment, I pulled out the engagement ring and asked her to marry me. And she said yes! My two daughters have grown up going to the cottage, taking their first plunge into the lake. I’ve built docks and a bunk house with my father and brothers-in-law. I’ve lain on the dock on a hot summer night with a glass of wine and looked at a billion stars in the Milky Way while listening to whip-poor-wills.
To see more of David’s work and learn about his “Art of the Cottage” photography service, visit www.lhicreative.com/art-of-the-cottage.