April Flower Brooch in Honor of Earth Day
April Flower Brooch - Red UPC Flower in Honor of Earth Day

Simple lighting to photograph your work.

Sayumi Yokouchi wrote a letter asking two good questions.  I have paraphrased her questions and will answer the second one here.  (The first was answered in a previous post.)

Sayumi Yokouchi red coil neckpeice
Circle Drawing: Coil Neckpiece Red  © 2009
Found Wire, sterling silver
30 x 26 x 3 cm
Artist: Sayumi Yokouchi
Photo Credit: Ralph Gabriner

Dear Harriete,

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

What would you recommend?

Sayumi Yokouchi



Purple Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
  Purple April Flower Brooch  © 2010
  Post consumer recycled tin cans.
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Photo Credit: Emiko Oye
  Shot taken in my studio using diffuse
  natural daylight.      This Flower pin is SOLD.

The photos that I take in my studio are limited to small  less expensive items that aren't worth spending a couple of hundred dollars on for professional photography. In these studio shots, I use natural light from two translucent skylights with a southern exposure and a window near by. This provides bright, white, diffuse light in the middle of the day.

Flower PIN by Harriete Estel Berman in Hershey Red with peach center 
Flower Brooch Hershey's vintage red with peach center     © 2010
Post consumer recycled tin cans.  One of a kind
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman                   Photo Credit: Emiko Oye
Photo taken using bright diffuse daylight without additional  lighting.

Diffuse natural light avoids all the problems that can occur with photo lights. You can duplicate this situation for yourself by photographing your work in a location that would be in direct sun, but wait for an overcast day. This provides bright diffuse light. This is my super simple method.

The location for your super simple photo shoot can be inside near a window or outside in a location that would be in direct sunlight. BUT, it must be an overcast or foggy day to have diffuse light. (I said that twice because it is so important.)  Photographing work in the shade is NOT an alternative because this creates a blue cast which won't look good.

Group of April Flower Brooches by Harriete Estel Berman in honor of Earth Day.
  April Flower Brooches © 2010
  Post consumer recycled tin cans.
  One brooch posted each day in honor
  of Earth Day. Photo taken with diffuse
  natural daylight by emiko oye.

The problems caused by artificial photo lights include harsh shadows, blown-out highlights, and the need to color balance the light source for correct lighting. Using photo lights greatly increases the difficulty of getting a great photo especially when your work is shiny, glossy or metallic. In addition, purchasing photo lights is a significant cost.

Do NOT use the flash on your camera to photograph your work. 

If you want more information on using artificial light sources, there was a great article in a recent The Crafts Report, April 2010 by Steve Meltzer, pages 34-35. He discusses all kinds of low cost options for photo lights. Look for this magazine at your library or local book store. The Crafts Report almost always has an article from Steve Meltzer about photography. I recommend the magazine as a subscription just for his articles alone.

Steve Meltzer also has two books that can help you with your photography efforts. They are both shown in the right column of this blog. His information is always practical and relatively easy to follow. CLICK ON THE BOOKS Capture the Light: A Guide for Beginning Digital Photographersand Photographing Arts, Crafts & Collectibles: Take Great Digital Photos for Portfolios, Documentation, or Selling on the Web (A Lark Photography Book) to see if Amazon.com even has a used copy to save you some money.

The next blog post will be about how to use "bounce cards" to reduce deep shadows and improve the lighting conditions during your photo shoot. This blog post will be authored by my photographer Philip Cohen. He shoots all my work which you can see on my web site.

Two documents in the Professional Guidelines may also improve your images.

     Guide to Professional Quality Images

     Working with Digital Images Effectively

* The books in the column and shown above are affiliate links. Clicking on the links and buying through Amazon.com could possibly provide this blog a few pennies to keep on going. Thanks for your support.