Monday, August 22, 2011

The Art of Making: Photography for Beginers

By: Erica Delp

The famous saying, “a picture paints a thousand words” definitely rings true when it comes to handmade jewelry and is a lesson that every jewelry artist learns early on as they progress in their career. A tip for all burgeoning artists is to invest in quality photos as soon as you are able. Good photos convey the value of the product, feature its uniqueness, and serve as a vehicle to connect a larger audience with an artist’s work. They also can be instrumental in gaining acceptance into juried art shows.

If possible, it is best to hire a professional photographer for your show application images, and for creating high resolution images which can be printed in large scale for booth signage. Jim Lawson creates fabulous signs on fabric which roll up easily for transit. His work can be viewed at

Investing in professional photography is a big step for most artists, and sometimes can be a substantial financial commitment. But, lack of funding doesn’t have to keep artists from getting started cataloging and showing photos of their work. Attractive photos can be taken at home with a simple digital camera and some good natural lighting.

Think first about the look and feel you want your photo to have. Think about the movement of your eye as your view the photograph. Does your eye stay entertained, or does it wonder off? Not all photographs need to have the focal piece front and center. Sometimes an unusual composition will get more attention from potential viewers than a straightforward photo of the featured merchandise. Choose a well lit location to set up your shot, preferably near a window. Natural light tends to work better to photograph small items with a basic digital camera. Select a setting on your camera that focuses on fine details of the focal art work. Take several snap shots to guarantee there will be a good one in the bunch.

If you are fortunate enough to own some studio lighting equipment and more advanced cameras, focus more on taking a clear crisp image on a neutral background that will highlight the quality and craftsmanship of the jewelry.

In all cases, consider the audience for your photos. If selling on Etsy or a similar venue, consider marketing oriented photography. This means focusing on color schemes, interesting accents, and creative set ups that support the look and feel of your business as well feature your product. If your goal is to use your photos for juried shows and grant writing, stick to photos that are clear, uncluttered and show the caliber of your work.

This year, Layne Designs has had the opportunity to work with Jim Lawson Photography to photograph some of our newest work. We’re loving the compliments that are coming in! Please enjoy a a recent series of the images by Jim below. Stop by Jim Lawson’s website to view some of his work as well.

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