As a maker, and once graphic designer, I really understand the importance of imagery. In fact I believe that a single image can portray much more than words in most instances. I try hard to take good photographs of my work, but although I know exactly what I want, I often struggle to succeed with the end result. Part of it is down to knowledge, and part down to not having quite the right tools. For example my iPad will take good day-to-day working shots in the studio, but as soon as I want a shot of a single piece of work the lens distorts it badly. When I throw a pot the shape is so important to me, particularly the slight taper that many of my pieces have. This often gets completely lost, and although there are ways to compensate it never looks quite the same.
I have an old digital SLR camera, which takes a decent photograph, and I’ve recently bought a tripod and shutter release to help with shooting in lower light levels, as we have at this time of year. I prefer to shoot using natural light, but I’m realising that I may have to bite the bullet and buy some lights.
All images by Shannon Tofts Photography
A couple of weekends ago I went to the Scottish Potters Association annual weekend workshops. I could only manage to go for a single day this year, but one thing I did take advantage of was having some professional shots taken of my work. This is not something I can afford every day, but they are needed for upcoming show applications. It was interesting to see how Shannon Tofts worked and I’m really pleased with the results. In particular the clarity of the shots and how he succeeded in capturing the reflection of my coloured footings – things I have not managed to date. I asked lots of questions and as a result realise that I need to buy a better lens. I’m struggling to decide whether I should get a standard prime lens i.e. 50mm, which tends to take images similar to what you see with the naked eye; or a macro (which Shannon used), which could be better for close ups and often have excellent sharpness.
I’d welcome any advice you might have.
PS I find myself increasingly recommending this great book… Photograph Your Own Art and Craft by the late Sussie Ahlberg, published by Bloomsbury. It’s full of practical advice and it has helped me enormously.