Sunday, 1 May 2011

How do you get your photographs to look like that?

I get asked that quite a bit, so I thought I'd do a post.  I am trying to do more blogging, I'm slowly trying to get back into things, they are far from normal but I do enjoy my work.

So in the 'overhaul' of my business I wanted to 'upgrade' my photos.  Now taking a photo is easy isn't it? Well no its not esp if you are doing it for a business, its not just 'playing photographer' you are actually combing many roles when you just 'take a photo' of your product and you really have to get your head around that. This is what I have learned this is from my experience and my research. I’m not claiming to be an expert in photography I think I am a bit crap with lots of the technical stuff but that really hasn’t stopped me.  I was given my first SLR when I was 17 by my father, he & a family friend got me into photography.  I have had quite a few of my shots of my work used in magazines, I have been featured/interviewed in online magazines for other photography work I have done and I have been asked to do photography for people, I have worked with professional photographers & I have modelled for pros. I am a bit passionate about photography and I have really enjoyed learning more from so many angles I use my camera a lot it all helps! 

this ones a biggy what camera do you get?  I did have a fuji finpix s9500 its definition is a 'bridge' camera its nearly an SLR It is a great camera with macro. She is great I got her back in 2006 and there are numerous cameras like this now.

Camera, this ones a biggy what camera do you get?  I did have a fuji finpix s9500 its definition is a 'bridge' camera its nearly an SLR It is a great camera with macro.  I decided in 2009 it was time to upgrade to a DSLR having has a film SLR I knew one day I would get one.  So I researched and I saved and I got a Nikon D300s its a storming camera that a lot of pros use.  I have 2 lenses for it a 18mm-200mm nikon & my newest lens a nikon 105mm macro.  Now this may sound very geeky and technical but I've had to learn this stuff and I spent the time learning and researching it because its important for my business.   I really can’t tell you which camera to get but I am in love with my DSLR and there are a whole load of affordable amazing DSLRS out there, check out the Nikon or cannon selection.  Myself personally I think its worth the investment because photographs are a huge part of getting your work out there, creating your identity.  Images are so important humans respond to images! If you have small products you need macro, if you want close up detail shots you also need macro, macro is either a setting on your camera or if you are buying a DSLR it’s a lens.

(taken with my phone!) Nikon with my 105mm lens.

I used to have a small light box and 2 lights but then the bulbs in the lights died & I couldn’t get new ones so I bought 2 new lights.

I then got the new camera and I have found that if is a fairly bright day I don’t need to use the lights I just use them at night.  I never use flash for products, its harsh and produces hard shadows which is not the look I want. I don’t use my light box any more either.

One of my new lights

Styling/ props
I never used to use these, I used just a plain white back ground.

The 3 above were taken in a lightbox with my fuji finpix

.  I recently decided it was more ‘me’ and more ‘my product’ to style the photos.  Now styling is an entire skill set its not just ‘adding some props’ and hoping for the best, its creating a style an aesthetic for your product, its like setting up a still life but the skill comes in keeping your product the main focus, ‘props’ must just compliment what you make and not over power.  For years now I have been looking reading style blogs, magazines, photography etc.  I have been saturated in this world of visuals, I have had stylist use my work in photoshoots for magazines and I have picked up a lot.   So this is where you might really have to think and be creative and practise, practise, practise.  You work hard on making your products don’t expect to be able to snap a few pics in 20 mins! Spend a day get props think, what is the inspiration for your product would it be good to incorporate an element of that? Think about where you could photograph your products.  On the dining table? On the mantel piece? Hanging off a great door? Outside on the deck? In the fireplace? You might have to make things, boxes etc.  I bought a room divider painted it and made ornate hooks to hang things from. Then try every angle practice, you need to find what works for you and your product. Take 500 pictures of a few products with props, angles, lights.  Once you start you will have more ideas and you will get into it.

And these are my new photographs, styled, Nikon D300S and macro 105mm.


So you took 500 pictures? And they could do with a bit of tweaking, its quite rare you can use a photo raw out of the camera, they usually need a tweak.  So you need editing software.  I have used Corel and I have used photoshop, I have both & I use them for different things, I’m a bit nuts when it comes to using both apparently, like trying to eat cake with 2 forks because they are pretty in different ways, but don’t judge! I do graphics, drawing etc so its worth my while having these packages. I have spent so much time learning how to use especially photoshop.  There are free packages like picassa but I have never used that.  I can show you the very basics using adobe bridge. Step by step:

Go into your adobe package and open adobe bridge it should look something like this when you get it open:

So these are the main things I use in raw.  Mostly I use exposure, temperature can help warm or cool you photos down if the lighting hasn't quite given you what you are after. Black can offer some depth if your photos are lacking that. Go easy on saturation, I use it only if  bumping the exposure up has faded out my colours a little, we trying to give a realistic image of your product you don't want people to think they are buying day glow orange socks when really they are delicate peach!
Here is a before shot of something: before

I haven't mentioned cropping but that is something else that can make picture. Ok now you should go off and play!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Distressing times....

My father died suddenly 2 weeks ago today.  Its been distressing & its turned our whole world upside down. As you might imagine I have been out of the work loop.  I am slowly trying to get back into things, really slowly....

Friday, 25 March 2011

I think I have forgotton how to blog...

It seems its a big job overhauling your business, that's what I seem to be doing and the rest of my life is currently nuts too.  I don't tend to talk about personal life much in the arena of work, mostly because I quite private when it comes to my family and private life.  I'm not someone who declares I'm a wife or a mother or whatever because its not to do with my work and is.

Balance: I am not an executive in a corporation, I'm not Marks & spencer, I'm an artist and I'm maybe a bit eccentric, I don't necessarily live by the same rules I will try to push them a bit.  I do everything in my business like many artists designers and I juggle a hefty amount of 'stuff', but I seem to thrive on hefty juggling.

In Jan My family moved into a new house In Jan, our first house, before this we lived as an extended family renting the top part of my parents house along with my sister who I am very close too.  I have myself a partner (the man) and I also have myself a daughter who is 10.  My daughter is autistic, has PDA, language disorder and learning difficulties, we spend a lot of time with health professionals at appointments and trying to get the things my daughter needs. Lots of red tape, paperwork, reports, phone calls, appointments, form filling and sometimes appealing and fighting.

We moved, we have no storage at all, the floor is my wardrobe.  We discovered woodworm in the living room floor so had to move our living space to the attic and get the floor treated which was nasty with chemicals and fumes.  My daughter is going through 'transition' i.e finding a secondary school for her.  It was all sorted we have to do it a year earlier than everyone else, we found a specialist school we were offered a place, only to be phoned a few weeks ago and to be told 'they' had changed their minds and would we like to send our daughter to a different specialist school we had not been told to 'investigate'. So panic ensued phone calls, visits, phone calls, phone calls and more phone calls and now its finally sorted.

While all this is going on I am 'overhauling' my business: all new graphics for my website that I'm doing, new packaging, logo stamps, new work designs, 2 blogs which are not exactly how I want yet, new photography with new lens, a new catalogue soon, new jewellery which is taking lots of research, trade orders, more attention to my etsy shop, twitter account and more attention to my facebook page.  There is more stuff but anyhow.

Its a lot of work.  I don't like giving excuses, I am professional but I'm not Topshop with a PA.  I'm a perfectionist, I'm kind of manic and probably kind of nuts! so if I tell you that "something came up & I didn't get to the post office in time today" something major probably did come up!

 New button design
 me after painting buttons
 new designs
 New Lens

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The plumber vs the artist…

So your toilet blocks you try to unblock it you fail, you call the plumber he comes spends 15 mins ‘faffing’ unblocks it and then turns around and charges you £60.  No chemicals used or materials this is just his time messing around in your loo with a large plunger. You pay it, you need a working toilet but its not a glamourous bill & you don’t say to him “Hey could you unblock it for £30?” I think £60 for 15 mins work is pretty awesome amount to earn.  Lets compare an artist/ designer maker to the plumber, I make couture ceramic buttons and jewellery retail price about £12 each, this figure has been carefully calculated, this is an exciting unique designed & handmade ‘product’. And yet I sometimes get comments like ‘pricey’, really….. seriously? My work is about as far removed as you can get from one of those 10p buttons made in china that you get out of thoses tubes in a market or haberdashery and you will turn around & then buy a metre of fabric for £12.  It makes me sad that artists designer makers think they have to compete with primark & walmart & its sad that buyers expect us to try & compete too.  I see artists under pricing their work so often, seriously we need to check ourselves our value.  The plumber knows his value he is confident in his ‘product’ and what he offers. Sometimes you have tradesmen who come in & do something so simple which takes seconds & they will say ‘hey just a tenner’ well that’s decent when you were thinking it might be £150 but hell it’s a tenner for a couple of minutes work!

This arena we are in needs some attitude tweaking and its in the hands of artists to change it, we need to realise our value & worth & when that buyer asks if you can make it for less say ‘no’ because your work is worth more.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Blogging work

I decided to start a blog for my work.  It was a spontaneous decision but now I have made it I'm excited! This is a short first post just to get started & its a good time for me to start documenting work in this format as I'm working on many changes.