Ceramics and Photography

Early in my career I learned how important it is to take quality photographs of my work.  This has been an evolving process and I know there is still much more room for improvement.  However, I feel I have come a long way.
My first experience with documenting my work was in undergrad in a professional practices class.  There I learned the basics of how to use the camera and how to setup the pieces to get the gradated background.  Needless to say those first images turned out terrible.  They had a yellow hue, the pieces were either too big or too small, and taken at the wrong angle with the gradation above the piece.  After that experience I decided to hire a professional photographer that specialized in photographing ceramic art.  I paid a small fortune for beautiful quality slides.  It was money well spent.  I continued to do this until three years ago when I moved to Washington.  I finally decided it was time I figure this out.  I setup a backdrop, built a soft box, and bought a new camera.
The image above shows the most recent improvement in photographing my pieces.  One of the problems I've had over the last couple of years is the pieces with black glaze would blend into the background and the color would end up looking muddy.  I've tried fixing this problem with extra lights and reflectors but both caused hot spots.  I finally realized the problem is with the paper backdrop.  Yesterday I purchased a new role of paper in the lightest grey I could find.  I took a few photos and immediately saw the difference.  The image on the left has a mid tone grey backdrop and the image on the right has the light grey backdrop.  The piece is crisp and pops in the second image.  The black glaze stands out against the background and the green is true to the actual color.
This has been a long learning process, mostly self taught through trial and error.  But it was well worth it and there is always room to grow.
WordsDara HartmanComment