Adam Potts Takes Us To The Donum Estate’s Vertical Panorama Pavilion

Adam Potts Takes Us To The Donum Estate’s Vertical Panorama Pavilion

There is something about Adam Potts‘ work that is just plain brilliant. His compositions, his lighting, his processing work – it’s all spot on. Adam is based in Northern California, which means his portfolio is chock full of vineyards, vast golden skies, and sprawling landscapes. This project, his photographs of The Vertical Panorama Pavilion at The Donum Estate, is the perfect addition to his body of work.

The Donum Estate – located in the Sonoma wine region Carneros – is an immersive combination that is part vineyard, part sustainable farm, and part expansive art collection. The estate sports “one of the world’s largest accessible private sculpture collections.” The Vertical Panorama Pavilion offers a beautiful spot to sit and drink Donum’s wine offerings while taking in an uninterrupted view of “the San Pablo Bay, its Carneros Estate vineyards and The Donum Collection, comprising some 50 site-specific sculptures and works of art.”

Adam starts “I was hired by the winery, local architect Signum Architecture, Berlin based architecture firm Studio Other Spaces (essentially the artist that designed the Pavilion), and the builder Cello & Maudru Construction.  2 other parties ended up joining the shoot as well.  This was a very exciting project that I was able to see come together from construction to completion.  Part of the assignment was to capture a series of progress photos, including a dramatic crane pick/lift at sunrise.  We all knew that this project was going to attract some attention in the media with several publications picking up editorial features on the project, so the pressure was on!”

He continues “It isn’t very often that we get to work with one subject like this over a full day.  The Vertical Panorama Pavilion, a tasting experience for people to enjoy some of the finest Pinot Noir in California with a scenic view of the surrounding vineyards and Bay, was a challenging subject to capture.  I envisioned several key shots….a backlit sunrise, sunset, twilight with lights on inside the canopy, interior images with the sun projecting the color panels in various areas through the afternoon, telephoto shots from the distant vineyards, contextual shots from the vineyard to make the pavilion look like it was floating, and all of the other possibilities that were swarming my mind.  Even though no flash would be needed for this shoot, the subject offered up.”

“The crane lift allowed me to get a sense for the light at sunrise, but when the shoot days came it looked like we might have some morning fog.  I actually opted to split the shoot into 2 half days, with another project starting immediately after this one.  When arriving in the afternoon, I tried to understand what would be happening through the late afternoon and started with a few shots under the canopy to catch the color in various places.  As the sun reached further towards the horizon, I focused on some top down aerial photos to show the overall site, and a tighter birds eye perspective from directly above the oculus,” Adam explains.

“The landscaping had just been planted within a few months, so it helped to work some key exterior images when the shadows were longer, helping fill in the space,” Adam tells. “As the light dissipated, I marked some tripod positions so I could quickly work through a few key shots as the sky faded at dusk.  The next morning, I arrived at Sunrise (a brutally early summer sunrise).  Prior to leaving home, I checked some webcams and radar models to see if the fog would be present. I love shooting with fog, but wanted the dramatic morning sunlight.  Remarkably, there was fog around but the site was clear at sunrise, and the fog swelled up and covered the area for 2 hours after.  The final challenge was to capture some images that really illustrated the experience of the colorful glass panels.”

The canopy is made up of 832 glass tiles, which range between 24 color variations. Adam captures this brilliantly, showcasing the canopy in all of its glory, and the way the colored light streams down onto the earth below.

Adam’s images radiate a sense of time and place. We can feel the colored light falling on our skin. We can sense the weather, and the time of day. His photographs are as immersive of an experience as drinking wine below the pavilion must be.

Adam photographs a clip of sun streaming through the pavilion. We see the subtle hilled horizon in the distance, giving us a notion of scale and landscape. The curved retaining wall draws our eyes right into the pavilion. Its colored tiles illuminated playfully against the soft sky. Adam also includes Richard Hudson’s “Love Me” sculpture in the frame, giving us the whole scope of the scene.

“All of my clients were thrilled with the work, and it was fun to see the project get some well-deserved attention in both print and digital outlets,” Adam says.

Many thanks to Adam Potts for sharing the lovely project with us!

Head over to to see more of Adam’s beautiful work. If you’re on Instagram, check out his profile @adampottsphoto.

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

Howdy! I'm Lexi. I write and make photographs. I love being outside and listening to '00s indie rock.
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