Author: Rebecca Bedrossian
A picturesque villa in the Italian countryside, the Scottish Lowlands dotted with bespoke tweed, a lone set of tracks in the sand of an African game preserve. These are beautiful images created for Beretta, a 500-year-old, family-owned firearms company. (A far cry from Robert Blake, the first thought that popped into my head when I heard “Beretta”.)
It’s obvious when looking at Andy Anderson’s pictures that Beretta is more than just guns. This is a company rooted in the sporting life. Yes, firearms and rifles, but also the outdoors, fashion, craftsmanship, legacy, engraving, and more.
This fall, Rizzoli will publish Beretta: 500 Years of the Sporting Life, a large, 400+ page, coffee-table book, to be written by Nik Foulkes—with photographs by Andy. Fifteen years ago, the last time Beretta published its showpiece, Peter Beard made the pictures. For Andy, this journey began two-and-a-half years ago, when he began traveling the globe to photograph the world of Beretta.
When I asked about the project, Andy spoke less of the images he created and more of the company that commissioned them. “Beretta is an amazing company,” he said. “They believe in the creative process. They are loyal to their employees. They are lovely people—like family.”
And family they are. Fifteen generations of Berettas have run this company that takes craft very seriously. How seriously? In today’s connected, virtual world, where business transactions happen at the speed of light, a Beretta engraver may spend over 600 hours engraving just one gun. Engravers must apprentice for five years. and there are generations of families—engravers—who’ve worked for Beretta. And this is a company that commissioned a photographer to work more than 150 days over the course of what will be almost three years.
At the helm of the company is Ugo Beretta and his sons Pietro and Franco. The steward of legacy brand is Franco, a man who will interrupt the international board meeting he is in, to step outside and say goodbye to a photographer and his son. Good relationships beget good business. Franco understands this, and as the company has grown, acquiring other brands, the family hasn’t lost sight of its core values.
When this project began, Franco didn’t have a laundry list of asks, instead he simply told Andy: “We trust you to go make pictures.”
And he has. Looking at Andy’s photographs, I feel as if I’ve caught a glimpse of days gone by. Rich traditions I didn’t know still existed. You won’t find dead animals. These pictures celebrate the sport, design, tools, quality, craft. From camouflage to the suit and tie, this is a global view of the sporting life. I can hardly wait to see more.