Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thinking outside the Photo Box

Images are everything in this business. Having pictures that can clearly show off your work is essential. Whether it is for jurying into shows, for postcards, magazine or book submissions, line need good pictures of your work.

Hiring a professional is the ideal solution. They know what they are doing. As with any service, getting recommendations is best. And one source is books and magazines. If a professional photographer took the pictures, they will have a photo credit.

But, if you are like me, and starting out, the cost of getting your work professionally photographed could be prohibitive. It is not unusual to pay $50 to $75 per final shot. A good photographer is worth that and more. I just don't have it in my budget right now.

Sometimes "do it yourself" is the only solution. With time, patience, and good equipment, you can get a decent result. But it does take practice, and ideally, you will invest in the right equipment. If you are going to do your own photography, I strongly recommend going to and looking at their photo booth set-ups. They are worth every penny. Be smart. Get the package deal. It may seem like a lot of money, but you will ultimately want it. I did it bit-by-bit, and wish over and over again that I had just bought the set-up right from the get go.

The photo booth set-up they sell is a has pop-up nylon cube, lights, gradient paper, and in some packages stands or specialty lights. The lights are full spectrum, long-life, low heat. The booth diffuses the light so you don't get any harsh shadows. And the gradient is what really makes your work stand out.

I started out with a blue gradient paper. Nature is a big influence in my work, and I associated blue with water and sky. When I looked at my pictures, that is what came to my mind. But it sometimes did not provide enough contrast to the work. Or it would sometimes look just "too" blue. Now when I look at some of those pictures, I want to turn the blue down.
Eventually I decided to try a gray background. I loved the way it worked with my vessels and with a larger piece of jewelry. I got that nice gradient, giving depth to the picture, and the colors popped against the gray. But when it came to shooting smaller pieces of jewelry, I was not so pleased. They would sit on the front end of the cube, and you did not see that dark gray color. It almost looked like a dirty white background. Not the look I was going for.
Yesterday I was down in the basement shooting pictures, and suddenly it dawned on me. Why did I set those small items down on the light colored portion of the paper? Was there a rule? If there was, who was going to enforce it? I put the paper in the larger cube, laying it flat, and pulled it forward. Set the piece of jewelry right where I wanted it on the gradient paper, and voila! I was getting the results I wanted. The black cord and edge of the piece disappear a bit, but the part of my work that most of my energy is focused on, the drawings, and layering over the drawings, comes to the forefront.
Being creative outside of the studio is as important as in it. In this case thinking outside of the photo box was called for. Now I have lots of pictures to retake. But I think I will be happier with the end result.

1 comment:

Libby said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you about the Tabletop Studio. I started with a translucent Rubbermaid box and Ott light, and it was fine for awhile, but the EZ Cube type box and professional lights are much better.

Professional photography is worth the money for some things too. However, it can be very difficult to find a good photographer who can show your work to its best advantage. It's a steep learning curve to know which questions to ask of a photographer, let alone how to evaluate if their style will complement your work.