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April Flower Brooch in Honor of Earth Day

Communicating with your photographer - What kind of images do I want?

Sayumi Yokouchi wrote a letter asking two good questions.  I am going to paraphrase her questions and answer them in two separate posts.  Here is the first one.

Dear Harriete,

I LOVE your site and tell/share it with everybody. Thank you, thank you!!! 

Sayumi Yokouchi Circle Drawing Brooch
 Circle Drawing Brooch 9     © 2009
 Found Wire, Sterling Silver wire
 9 x 7.5 x 1.5 cm
 Artist: Sayumi Yokouchi
 Photo Credit: Ralph Gabriner

I've been using a professional photographer for years (after a number of my own attempts to photograph my work).  The images are fine most of the time, but it is sometimes a bit frustrating to describe how I want my work to be photographed.

Perhaps it is time for me to (really) start my own photoshoot, so I can get the images the way I like.  I'm ready to invest in a digital camera + lenses + a simple lighting system.

I read your quality image guidelines.  What would you recommend?

Thanks again.

Sayumi Yokouchi

When I take my work to my photographer, Philip Cohen, I usually have a very clear idea of how I want it to look. I tell him the most important part(s) of the artwork and point out the elements that I want him to feature in the close-up.  We have developed an approach that accommodates most work. Like you, it is the exceptions and unusual work that I have to go further to communicate.

Sometimes I have a postcard in mind as in the image below. The artwork, "A Square Yard of Grass", was photographed with this triple-panel folding postcard in mind.Grass postcard by Harriete Estel Berman is available for purchase.
When you want something different, the photographer can't read your mind, so plan on an additional discussion to convey your larger objectives for the images.   In preparation, I often do test shots in the studio with a digital camera or prepare sketches with colored pencils on paper of the desired image.  Either option may take me a couple of hours to prepare, but it is a lot less expensive to spend my time testing out the angles and compositions with a digital camera than to pay my photographer his hourly fees on unsatisfactory trial shots.

Windows of Memory by Harriete Estel Berman are constructed from vintage steel dollshouses and recycled tin cans. For very large work, sometimes the approach has to be significantly different. For example, to shoot these window frames, I had to move all my furniture, install the artwork temporarily in my living room and pay for my photographer to come to my house.

Blades of grass from grass sculpture by Harriete Estel Berma are constructed from reycled tin cans. For the grass sculpture (below), I used this close-up to promote the work before it was installed. Then after it was installed at a second exhibition site, I was able to find a professional photographer able to take on the challenge of this scale (9' x9') with a large-format camera.Grass/gras sculpture is 9 ' x 9' lawn of grass by Harreite Estel Berman 

So, in summary, the best way to communicate with your photographer is to be prepared with illustrations or demo shots to show what you want.  When you know something unusual is coming, plan on taking more time to communicate your wishes with example photos from your digital camera or sketches. 

If you have suggestions about how you communicate with your photographer, will you share them with the readers of ASK Harriete?

The next post will be the second question from Sayumi Yokouchi regarding simple lighting systems for photography and resources for digital cameras and lenses.


Stay tuned for April Flowers on ASK Harriete.  Starting March 28th, one April Flower Brooch will be posted every day in honor of Earth Day.  Spring flowers bloom with post-consumer, recycled tin cans, brilliant colors, and bountiful prints. 

Ooops!!! I sold a few already. A preview is below:

APRIL FLOWER BROOCH by harriete Estel Berman is made from recycled tin cans.
APRIL FLOWER BROOCH by harriete Estel Berman is made from recycled tin cans.

This post was updated on January 13, 2022.