At first glance, you might think I'm going to write about hair, makeup and clothes or resumes, social media and contacts. As an artist, some would feel the above isn't important, but of course, it is. No matter what you do or who you really are, image matters.
Think of all the images that fly by you everyday online, news, social media. And of course, the ultimate image, the selfie or glamour shot. Images abound because they speak to us in wordless wonder. They touch our hearts, minds and pocket books in good ways and bad.
How do I create a good image of my work?
When I'm creating, sometimes I have an image in mind. A sketch. A concept. A color. But I don't follow it step by step. In fact, most of the time, these images fade away as my hands work. Sometimes, it's only years later, that I stumble on an old sketch and realize where those pieces came from. Studio work is magic to me.
But after the piece is done, I also have to create an image of my work that goes out into the world. For years, I had a professional photographer who took wonderful pictures of my work. He was truly talented with lighting, which by the way is key to good photography, not digital editing. If the lighting is not right, the image looks all wrong.
I know because now I struggle with getting the lighting right. If the lighting is flat, the colors are dull. The red, blue or black colors look dark or gray. If the lighting is too bright, the colors look faded or pale. Then there's hot spots where the light hits the piece and creates glare.
Googling doesn't always help. But, maybe, Crate and Barrel can.
No matter how many articles I google, I am not a professional product photographer, which is what we used to call them in advertising. Traditional art photography is all about the 'glamour shot' using a seamless background, professional lighting and solitary pieces. That's what my wonderful photographer did for so many years and that's what got me into gallery shows, art publications, online sites and studio tours. Jurors expect good, professional photography.
I loved that my old photographer was an artist himself and understood the importance of being true to the pieces I created. He didn't photoshop my work and I've always been ok with that.
So how can I stay true while creating a good image?
I've always been a big fan of Crate and Barrel catalogs and their online site is just a lovely. I still open every email and savor every page. Why? Because the design, staging, vignettes of the photos were just wonderful.
What if I take a clue from Crate and Barrel? Take pictures of my work in normal settings? Group my work in a way that real people with real homes would use them?
I love to create vignettes in my own home, so why not use that idea for my ceramic pieces? I tried it and it just felt right. I know it's not what jurors will expect to see. And it may keep me out of galleries and some shows.
But suddenly, it feels like what I'm creating is being seen in its own image. And I like that.