Mayo’s furniture photography tells stories and starts conversations

Every picture tells a story. And in the middle of Patrick Mayo’s pictures – as out of place as they may seem – sit pieces of furniture made by his family’s company. 

Mayo Corporation is a third-generation manufacturer of upholstered and leather furniture in Texarkana, Texas. Patrick Mayo, vice president of sales and marketing and grandson of company founder Linn Mayo, and former sales manager Don McCoy took time during the recent High Point Market to tell the stories of how they created those arresting images of armchairs and sofas in the strangest locations.

Take, for example, the leather sofa surrounded by longhorn cattle. Two large, striking photographs of the scene hung from a wall in the Mayo showroom on the third floor of Furniture Plaza. 

Patrick Mayo happened to be driving by the pasture one day, saw the small herd and called McCoy, who still works for the company in a part-time capacity. 

“Remember, this is Texas,” McCoy explained to a visitor. “You got longhorns.” 

“How aggressive were these guys?” the visitor asked. 

“Those longhorns were like puppy dogs,” McCoy said, adding that the owner shook a bucket of feed to draw them to the sofa once Mayo and McCoy had set it in place. 

“They just came to the food,” Mayo said. 

“They just moseyed on over there,” McCoy added. 

“What kind of damage could those horns do to the couch?” the visitor asked, a little concerned. 

“They put a couple of dents in the outside back, and I had to replace it before I came to market, but it wasn’t much,” Mayo said. “I had to clean a little slobber off it.” 

“We also dropped it right in a patty,” McCoy said with a grin. 

Mayo puts his furniture through its paces by hauling it almost anywhere to stage his pictures. So you can see a sectional on a sandbar of the Red River outside Texarkana. Or an upholstered sofa in a swamp. Or an armchair on the edge of White Rock Mountain in Arkansas.  

Mayo recorded the mountain venture in a six-minute YouTube video (below) capturing a project that required a couple of days in February to execute.

He and Matthew Huckabee, the company’s graphics designer, drove a truck more than four hours to reach White Rock in Ozark National Forest northeast of Fort Smith. Then they hauled the chair along a rocky path, placed it atop a cliff and waited for the setting sun to cast just the right light. The resulting photos are stunning.  

McCoy started the photo shoots a half-dozen years ago. “He taught me quite a bit, and when he retired, I took over,” Mayo said. 

“Patrick has stepped it up,” McCoy noted. 

The imagination and energy that go into this furniture photography are amazing – even if the perpetrators sometimes get in a little trouble. 

They used a railroad track as a platform for one shoot, McCoy said. They thought it was a good idea, but after the photos were posted, a railroad inspector called to tell them they’d been trespassing. The photos could encourage others to stage their own activities on the tracks. Mayo removed the pictures. 

Even more than energy and imagination, however, what really pours into this pursuit is passion. Mayo loves the furniture his family and their skilled employees have been hand-crafting since 1965, and it shows. He wants to present it in its best light and in places where it starts conversations. 

As a marketing strategy, it’s brilliant. And it’s available to customers. Any retailer who carries Mayo furniture can download the photographs for free and use them to its own advantage. The images have appeared in many furniture store ads. 

Retailers can also feature the photos in their showrooms, just as Mayo does at markets. Why not, when they can grab shoppers’ attention and pull them into the story? 

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