Tag Archives: photography

day 21.

Last week I was taking some product photographs, and I was struck by the relationship between that process and the process of making something. It’s not a new idea for me, but it’s been some time since I experienced it so vividly. 

I take clear, attractive photographs of my own products, but I’m not a photographer either by training or by instinct. My framing is always lacking in finesse; I have no understanding of technique or the finer mechanics of cameras and lighting. All the same, when I’m photographing my own work, something happens in the act of looking at it through that remove. I see it with different eyes than the ones I use when I’m making it. It often happens that I don’t know what to name a design until I’m looking at it through the camera. I need that final step to make it gel into itself, in a way. The thing that happened last week is a less frequent occurrence, but an even more useful one. The piece I was photographing looked right when I made it. The colors were right, it balanced properly, the flow of it looked attractive to me. But when I looked at it through the camera, and took a couple of pictures, it was plainly wrong. The lines of it were wrong. It wasn’t hanging differently, it was in the same position it had been when I finished it and looked at it and judged it to be good. But the eye of the camera saw it cleanly, and there was something wrong with it. I took it apart and redid it, and the second time it came out right. 
I don’t know if that’s something to do with my inexpertise with a camera – it might be that my maker’s soul doesn’t enter into the process with the camera, so what I see with it is more empirical than what I see when I’m making something. Or it might be that the remove of the camera itself – an object between me and what I made – is distance enough to let me finish making something. It doesn’t really matter, but I know that the camera is a check, an editor that I need. It’s my partner in the story of what I make.

please stay tuned.

I’ve been taking my product photos the same way for years, and I had the thing down to a science. I get fidgety with my styling, but I’ve been able to get the same clarity and color for a long time. And now here I am in a new place with new light from new directions and the backgrounds I normally use are packed away who knows where, but I’m doing new work and it needs to be photographed. IT IS NOT GOING WELL, people. I took three sets of photographs of the new pieces I made this week, and none of them are singing to me. It’s going to take a lot of experimentation and practice to get them back up to standard, I think. In the meantime, I have work to list so I’m using the third set of photos. My sense of pride in presentation has taken a hit, though; so consider this an excuse post to salve my ego. Argh.

In less frustrating news, I’m enjoying working with vintage glass again and have several new pieces that will appear over the coming weeks. I’m adding to my occasional Holy/Shadow series, and am doing new interpretations of some older designs. I’m hoping to start work soon on a collection inspired by {bloody, dark and grim} fairy tales.

hunting for truffles.

I mentioned that I raided the family photo collection while I was visiting my grandparents in Richmond. I only got through about 10% of it, and even that took me most of a day. The box I dug through was loose pictures from no particular era, and I found treasures ranging from an exquisite daguerreotype in a little blue velvet case(“Darling Mother, 1856” – Grandma had no idea who it was, or even which side of the family it came from) to a Christmas card from 1991 featuring an elderly family friend sitting on Santa’s lap and smiling the happiest, most ridiculous smile ever. It was a pretty good day.

There was one treasure that stood out from the rest. About two thirds of the way through the box, I found this beauty and pulled it out and waved it around and said “See? See? THIS is why I snoop!” Grandma let me keep this one, and I’m in love with it.

This is my grandparents in 1939, the year before they were married. I found a lot of good stuff, but this was the prize, and well worth spending a day in the dust. More pictures still to come – stay tuned for scandalous Great Aunt Virginia!