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August 2011

Exhibition Opportunities For Finished Work? How to Find Them.

A reader of ASK Harriete asks: I do not have credentials or know how to "shop around" for a future place to exhibit my artwork. So how can I find exhibition opportunities for finished work? 

Consuming Conversation S © 2004
A commentary about our consumer
society and on a balanced economy.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

As mentioned in a previous post, I recommend making the work you want to make, without waiting for an exhibition that forces you to take action.  Rather than reacting to a themed exhibition, let the artist inside of you make work that inspires you now.  When the work is complete, then find an exhibition that fits your work. 

But the big question is...How do Artists and Makers find exhibition opportunities for finished work?

Here are some suggestions:

Write about work while it is in progress on your blog, Flickr, Facebook, or Crafthaus including interesting facts, tips, or "in the studio" shots that may interest your audience.  This is especially important to generate visibility and interest if the work takes a long time.

When the work is completed you need fabulous photos! If the work is too big to photograph before installation, use some close-up images.

Write an artist statement about the finished work. Keep improving and updating this information.

Create custom-made shipping box(es) for storage and shipping.

Figure out how much it will cost to ship.
An exhibition sponsor may ask:

  • How many boxes? How heavy? Dimensions?
  • Know the insurance value. (Insurance is usually half the retail price.)

Prepare instructions for assembly, installation, display, and packing, as necessary. This includes an installation diagram and how much time it takes to set up.

Send photos and information to exhibition spaces and curators that you have worked with in the past. This is where your history of participating in group shows, juried shows, and invitational exhibitions may be helpful.

  • A personal letter or email is essential. Group emails are worthless. Personal contact is key.
  • You should have a professional (or close to perfect) working relationship with previous exhibition sponsors. Flaky behavior will get you nowhere.
  • Professional behavior in every regard, and great working relationships, are key to these inquiries.
  • Write to every place that has ever exhibited your work.

Leverage a network of networks.  Let your network of contacts extend into their networks to reach exhibitions that you would not hear of otherwise.

Be proactive and patient.  A perfect exhibition opportunity is not likely to show up immediately, so be patient.  But you must actively get your photos and statement out to let it spread and find opportunities.  If you don't inform people, no one will "find" you.  

And, of course, keep your eyes out for published invitations for exhibitions.  Broadly interpret any stated theme to include your finished work.  Submit your photo and modified statement to all shows that could possibly be interpreted to include your work.  You never know who might agree with your interpretation of the theme.

The most challenging option is to submit your images, and exhibition proposal to galleries, museums, or non-profit exhibition spaces that you have not worked with in the past. This requires research to figure out if your work is appropriate for each venue. Look on their website, study past exhibits, and internet search results for your preliminary investigation.

Consuming Conversations - A series of teacups about our consumer society. A concealed rod holds each stack of cups together in a precarious position. A position mirrored in our current economy of overspending and consuming without regard to realistic finances.


NEXT Tuesday's post on ASK Harriete: A step-by-step example of how I am seeking exhibition opportunities

This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?

A reader of ASK Harriete asks:

Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?  My fine art pieces also take me a long time (months and months). 

3M & m Candy Dispenser by Harriete Estel Berman.72jpg The short answer is that it depends on the show and your situation. While I generally recommend to make great work and then find a show... there are occasions for which a smaller piece may fit both your long-term goals and the near-term exhibition theme.  For example, I created the 3M & m Candy Dispenser (right images) for such a situation.

A few weeks or a couple of months' notice to make a piece for an exhibition isn't much time,
but yes, sometimes the opportunity presented is worth a grueling crush to complete.

3 M & m Candy Dispenser back viewck-72
   3M & m Candy Dispenser © 2005
   Constructed for an exhibition based on
   using 3M products.
   Recycled tin cans, candy dispenser,
   candy, brass
   Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Here are my main criteria for deciding whether to participate in a show on short notice:

  • Does the exhibition include insurance?
  • Is this a quality exhibition space with an established reputation either locally or nationally?
  • Will the work be handled by professional art handlers?

  • Will the exhibition sponsor generate good visibility for the show with an audience that would appreciate my type of work?
    • Do I have a good/interesting idea for the exhibition theme?

    • Is the exhibition sponsor (or curator) a place (or person) that I would like to develop a working relationship with for the future?

    • Do I want to support the theme or organization sponsoring the exhibition?


  • MOST IMPORTANT: Do I have enough time to make an excellent example of my work including skillful execution and a thoughtful concept?

Below are more examples of work made for a special exhibition and why I made it.
Butterfly by Harriete Estel Berman

Butterfly close up view by Harriete Estel Bermantl
“Butterfly” by Harriete Estel Berman

This is my butterfly for the exhibition “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” at the Holocaust Museum in Houston. If you look closely, you can see the children playing. The Holocaust Museum Houston was collecting 1.5 million handmade butterflies in an effort to remember the loss of children during the Holocaust. The butterflies will eventually comprise a breath-taking exhibition, currently scheduled for Spring 2012, for all to remember.

I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • The theme expressed a poignant resonance.
  • I had the perfect tin to execute my butterfly idea.
  • The project was small. I could make an exquisite butterfly in a week.

CERF Converse Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman

CERF  Converse style shoe by Harriete Estel BermanshoeLEFT

CERF Converse Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman TOP
CERF Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman
St. silver rivets and eyelets, electrical wire shoelaces, tool dip.
1.15 “height  x  3.5 “ width x 3.5 “ depth (including shoe laces)

My shoe is constructed from recycled tin cans from KIWI Shoe Polish and other tin cans. This shoe was made for CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund) as part of their raffle that was shown at SOFA Chicago 2009. CERF helps artists with financial emergencies.

I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • CERF is an organization that helps artists.
  • The raffle for the collection of shoes gets great visibility at SOFA, Chicago, and mail distribution of their postcard.
  • Their raffle method does not devalue my work (like most fund-raising auctions.)

Children Are Not Bulletproof by Harriete Estel Berman
Children are not Bulletproof  
© 2000    Harriete Estel Berman
Two pins and three wall mount elements constructed primarily from recycled tin cans; brass, 14k. gold-filled wire, vintage plastic, red satin ribbon.                          
64.25” height installed (Ribbon length rests on the floor)   x   4” width   x   2.25” depth

Two pins and three wall mounts were exhibited and sold as one unit.
Children are not Bulletproof is available for purchase or exhibition.
Close-up view below.

Children Are Not Bulletproof by Harriete Estel Berman_closeUP.nobackground72
Children are not Bulletproof  © 2000 Harriete Estel Berman

This was originally constructed for a political badges show at Helen Drutt Gallery.
I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • Helen Drutt asked me to participate. (It is hard to say "no" to people you respect or admire.)
  • Helen Drutt Gallery usually managed to get great visibility for many of her shows.
  • I thought that I could make a good piece within the three-month advance notice.

These were just a few examples. When there is an invitation or a juried opportunity, you have to weigh the pros and cons for each show, and then decide for yourself.

I have one more post in this series coming up... How Do You Find Exhibition Opportunities for Finished Work?

Do you have any more questions about this topic? Let me know.


This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Children are not Bulletproof                                                             © 2000    Harriete Estel Berman

Two pins and three wall mount elements constructed primarily from recycled tin cans (pre-existing scratches and marks may be present); brass, 14k. gold-filled wire, vintage plastic, red satin ribbon.


64.25” height installed (Ribbon length rests on the floor)   x   4” width   x   2.25” depth

Two pins and three wall mounts sold as one unit.  Pieces may not be sold separately.     

Make Work YOU WANT TO MAKE and then... THE WORK Will Find a SHOW

I have spent the afternoon reading Ask Harriete.  Oftentimes, I see a show I feel my work would fit into...due to the subject matter, title, etc., however, there is NOT enough time to create a piece and get it submitted in time.  After reading what you say in the Etsy Recycler's Guild interview of Harriete Estel Berman interview (from Etsy Recycler's Guild, I am surprised to see, that you most likely enter shows after the work is done. 

Or as you once told me, you shop the work around in order to find an exhibition space.  So, what can you offer to those of us who have the problem?  

Mary Anne Enriquez

Harriete Estel Berman standing near Measuring Compliance at the exhibition ManufracturedbstandingThis issue often causes artists and makers to feel overwhelmed.  Your schedule is already full and then an opportunity arises that would demand even more time. Who can just drop everything and start
                                                    something new?

Although I do make work for some shows (and will show some examples in the next post on ASK Harriete),  I prefer to make work that I want to make based on my long-term goals.

I recommend that all artists and makers make the work they want to make.


Measuring Compliance Poster
Measuring Compliance Poster
portrays sculpture by the same title.
Measuring Compliance © 2006
Recycled materials, 3rd-grade desk,
3rd-grade chair, banners, custom made
straight jacket, yardstick, rulers.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

It is the artist's or maker's responsibility to bring important or significant ideas to fruition without the dictates of a theme, exhibition, or invitation. Maybe these ideas are big, expensive, demanding, or even scary. So what if it takes a year or more to finish because you have to put it down, work on your day job, or do other artwork that makes money. Just keep working with the big goals in mind.

If you wait for a show invitation to start making something big or important, you may never get around to creating significant artwork. Too often, I have heard artists expressing disappointment that they didn't get invited to be part of a particular exhibition even though they had been thinking about making something that would have been "perfect" for the show.  Don't wait for a show to prompt the making . . .  start making.  By waiting to make something "for a show" ... they lost an opportunity.

The emphasis is on making work that is challenging, significant, and stands on its own . . .  not making work that fits into a show in a few weeks.   Make work that you will be proud of for a lifetime.  Sooner or later a show or some other opportunity will turn up that is right for your work -- not the other way around.

Alyssa Endo working on Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin HERE IS AN EXAMPLE:
I just finished the project Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin.
It took the better part of five years. I often had to put it away until  I had time or help available to work on it.

Penci lBrotheres Pencils in Pick Up Your Pencils Begin by Harriete Estel Bermans582bellcurve

Most often, the bigger or high-risk projects aren't necessarily the ones that will sell, but they may become the "show stopper" that establishes your reputation years later.

Close up of Pencils fabrication Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin by Harriete Estel Berman Here is my real-life example.    The day before I finished Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, a major magazine emailed me about writing an article on a topic highly relevant to this work! Wow!!!!! They need photos of the installation, so now I need to find an exhibition space.

This wasn't magic. I have also been working on documenting the construction of this artwork, writing about it on my website, Facebook, blog, Crafthaus, and other social networking sites.

Website for Harriete Estel Berman The editor had become aware of this project from my website. I've had a link on my home page ever since I started the project.

Apparently, editors and writers spend some of their time "trolling"  the internet for ideas and new work. Marthe Le Van, editor for Lark Books talked about this during her presentation for the Professional Development Seminar. A lesson to all of us to keep making our work, documenting our progress, never give up...steady progress wins the race!

MAKE WORK YOU WANT TO MAKE and then... find an exhibition space.

Does anyone know of an exhibition space for Pick UP Your Pencils, Begin?

I'd love to hear your ideas! There are 3-4 weeks before the article goes to press.


You can see the documentation of Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin on my website.

NEXT POSTS on ASK Harriete:

  • Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?
  • How Do You Find Exhibition Opportunities For Finished Work?

This post was updated on February 9,  2022.

The Billboard Art Project Breaks ART BOUNDARIES in Duluth, MN

Normally we see art and craft in galleries, museums, stores, or online -- seldom does a venue actually reach out to the general public.  Well, that's about to change!  The Billboard Art Project breaks through all the ivory tower gates and grabs the attention of the commuting audience with BILLBOARD SIZE IMAGES of art.   AND . . . my artwork is included in the Billboard Art Project!   How exciting!

Two teacups by Harriete Estel Berman  from Consuming Conversation on a Billboard in Duluth MN as part of the Billboard Art ProjectA billboard obtained from Lamar Advertising by The Billboard Art Project will display site-specific artwork for a continuous period of 48 hours on their billboard in Duluth, MN. They selected 59 artists from all over the U.S. and Europe to have their artwork images exhibited in an eight-hour show that will repeat six times. The images in this post will be shown along with the other artists beginning at midnight Friday night through Saturday and Sunday until midnight Sunday night. Wish I could see the real thing. 

Three cups from Consuming Conversation by Harriete Estel Berman  on a Billboard in Duluth MN as part of the Billboard Art ProjectIn addition to providing artists with a free venue to display their art, free art shows are provided to the public, thus initiating a dialogue between artists, viewers, and the public landscape. How cool is that?

Three Art Jewelry bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman are part of the Billboard Art Project in Duluth, MNtH
WHERE: Billboard Art Project - Duluth, MN

LOCATION: Digital LED Billboard at the intersection of
               E Central Entrance and S Blackman Avenue
              (southeast corner)
               Duluth, Minnesota, 55811

WHEN: Saturday, August 20th at 12:01 a.m. through
           Sunday, August 21st  11:59 p.m.

Series of Golden Girl Bracelets from the Californina Collection of Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman is part of the Duluth, MN Billboard Art ProjectlleABOUT:
Billboard Art Project is a nonprofit organization that acquires digital billboards normally used for advertising and repurposes them as roadside art galleries. Projects are held in cities all over the country and are open to all individuals and groups who are interested in participating.

PARTICIPATE in the Billboard Art Project:
If you want to submit images of your art or craft for future locations, more information can be found at The Billboard Art Project. Each city has different requirements, dimensions, and deadlines. Read the PDF super carefully! You have to resize your images to fit the Billboard dimensions, and it takes time to label your images properly. Your fabulous images could be a billboard.  I think this is a fabulous idea!


PARTICIPATING ARTISTS for Duluth, MN listed below:
Alex Lange, Alli Miller, Amanda Mead, Becky Kehrwald, Brian Barber, Brian Nogues, Brian
Rauvola, Cat Bottoms Newby, Chau Dang, Claire Accardo, Connie J. Frisch-Cherniak, Dana M. Johnson, David J. Thompson, David Morrison, Elizabeth Shores, Ellen Mueller, Erin O’Daniel, Erin Rolf, Flavio Galván, Ginny Lloyd, Happy Accidents, Harriete Estel Berman, Jacob Riddle, Jason Sayner, Jeredt Runions, Joelle McTigue, Joshua Barber, Julia Whitney Barnes, June Bisantz, Justin Anderson, Justin Jorgensen, Karlie Thomas, Katerina Lanfranco, Kelsey Bosch, Kerry Woo, Kiyomi, Kristian Bjørnard, Laura Cinti, Laurel Beckman, Laurie Paravati, Luisa Pulido, Marcellous Lovelace, MaryAnn Cleary, Michael Harford, Michele Guieu, Mitchell Bercier, Nadia Pacheco, Natalee Parochka, Natalee Phelps, Phyllis Fox, Rachael Gorchov, Rachel Halgren, Sarah Jacobs, Scott Murphy, Seeking Kali, Shaun Irving, Stephanie Thompson, Tracy Stampfle, Wes Kline

Behind the Camera: Inexpensive Secrets for A Great Model Shoot!

Recycle.BR.BW.arm up72
Are there any inexpensive ways to obtain a great model shot?

  • Four people at least.
  • Mirrors, and/or aluminum foil on cardboard.
  • Hair Spray and hair gel (little fuzzy hairs look really bad.)


Makeup is a complex issue.
The model's makeup needs to match the model's style and the style of your jewelry or clothing. 

My model was very tan with fabulous skin. All we used was a little lip gloss for lips and some mascara. This is what America's Top Model often does for their "beauty shots."

Makeup generally has to be heavier or more dramatic for a photoshoot than would be worn every day.

BACKGROUND is important and a challenge.  We used a white sheet as the background. 
But no wrinkles can show. Although I ironed and stretched the sheet, it still had wrinkles. Next time I am going to try a sheet of white laminate. It costs a lot less than a sheet. No wrinkles.

Paper may be difficult as a background outside.  I knew the photoshoot had to be outside and it is often windy at my house. If you want to use paper as a background, you can buy large rolls of paper in many colors at a photo supply store.


Lots of natural bright light (no direct sunlight) is the final secret for a low-cost photo shoot. Direct sunlight is too harsh and creates strong shadows. Professional photoshoots are often done at sun up or sun down for great horizontal golden light. If you can take your photos on an overcast or foggy day, that is another option, but it is difficult to coordinate four or five people and the weather. This is why we used bounce cards. See the previous posts for an explanation.


P.S. If you want some background about The Model or the Pedestal? Which is the more effective image? check out this post from ASK Harriete.

ALSO: Tomorrow's post includes a surprise! Don't miss it! Subscribe to ASK Harriete.

This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Behind the Camera: Secrets Revealed in a PhotoShoot with a Model

A photographic image with a model is the most challenging photo session ever. It takes at least three, preferably four, people at a minimum. Take my word for it.

Below are two sets of recent photos, one the "money shot" followed by the "behind the scenes" reality.

Money Shot #1

Photo shoot of Aqua necklace, photo by Alyssa Endoq

Now a behind-the-scenes revelation. We had five people working; the model, photographer, stylist/lighting, gaffer, and documentary photographer. The day we took the photos was less than ideal as it was very windy, and getting windier, but we wanted to be outside with natural light. We had to make it work! Everyone had already scheduled the four-hour time slot. 

photo by Alyssa Endo as we fix the model's
Photo by Alyssa Endo      Model Jen Ohara

We were all fussing over the model. Even so much as one hair out of place looks terrible in a photo. I must have put a ton of hairspray on the model's hair. The jewelry photos are filled with warm glowing sunlight, but in fact, we were all freezing including the model.

The photographer is leaning in to check exposure up close so the camera is not tricked by reflected light.

Below, two people (me and Ace Shelander) are both holding panels to bounce the light (indicated by white lines and arrows) onto the model. I am using a flexible hoop that is metallic on one side and white on the other. Ace has a white foam core board.

Photo by Alyssa Endo , the light bounces off bounce cardsg lilight EndoPHOTOshootaquabehindcameraboucinglight.
Photo by Alyssa Endo.

We also had two mirrors (outside of the camera's view) bouncing light into the eaves above the model. This showered the model from above with beautiful soft white light. On the ground, below the model, are large sheets of white foam core board bouncing light up into the eaves of the house.

Photo by Alyssa Endo shows a photo shoot of bracelet by Harriete Estel Bermanuabehindcamera800
Photo by Alyssa Endo.

The light bounced from the foam core is very white, soft, and subtle. This is why it works so well - no harsh shadows, just warm glowing light. Of course, because the sun keeps moving, you have to frequently move the mirrors and bounce cards to maintain the light.

Photos by Francois Duhamel © 2008
All Rights Reserved.

Bouncing light is not for the lighthearted. The entire movie, Revolutionary Road, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet was filmed in a small Connecticut house. They constructed huge bounce cards to push soft white light from outside into a small house. (left photos)

To maintain the consistent feel of natural light outside the Connecticut house, giant 12' x 12' ultra bounce reflectors and large muslin sheets were arranged to bounce light into the scene.

 Photo by Alyssa Endo of photo shoot with bracelet by Harriete Estel Bermanshirt
Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

Everything counts for a great shot. So much can go wrong when using a model. Above, the shirt is too wrinkled. We are all looking at the angles of the model, the bracelet, the slightest angle of the hand, her fingers, wrist, arm, body, clothing, and jewelry. We tried to fix the shirt in the photo below.

Photo by Alyssa Endo as we fix the shirt during a photo shoot for jewelry by Harriete Estel Bermanrt
Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

The photographer, stylist, and gaffer are all responsible for spotting problems.


Money Shot #2

Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman in a proposed Billboard formatBerman02
Photo by Alyssa Endo

I am using this amazing shot (above) for an outdoor billboard.  

Below, check out the reality.

Photo by Alyssa Endo

I had two jobs during this shoot, bouncing light onto the model while trying to "see" what the camera sees. The photographer only gets to look through the camera. The stylist and the assistants need to see what is going on around the model and the camera. What is happening with the light? Everything counts when doing a shoot with the model.


Money Shot #3

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

In the above image of jewelry by emiko oye, the model glows serenely. The necklace looks fantastic! The reality was a lot less polished until we got it right.

Below, you can see how we were meticulously and precisely placing the necklace. Every link of the chain had to lay just right....or it looked terrible. We spent a lot of time, while the entire crew waited, trying to fix the necklace chain just right - so many shots were rejected because of the chain not laying right.

The model doesn't look too happy, the light is shining in her eyes.

Photo by Alyssa Endo

Here I am are taping the necklace to the back of the model with masking tape because it needed to lay a little higher on her chest. The light is glowing....but in fact, we were freezing (which is why the model is wearing sweat pants). It was getting more windy by the minute. The model had to stand in the shade while we bounced sunlight into the photo and into the model's eyes. The model can't let any of this show.

Money Shot #

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

Look closely at the photo above, the bracelet looks like it is poking the model. We have to see this during the shoot and fix it.

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

We used a white sheet as the background. I ironed the sheet which we stretched and thumbtacked to the house, but it still had wrinkles. Next time I am going to try a sheet of white laminate.  

Look at the fabulous shot below.

Photo by Aryn Shelander of bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Did you wonder why the model is not standing in the sun? If the model stood in the sun, the lighting would be too harsh with strong shadows. Soft, diffuse, and glowing light is one of the secrets to success.

There are a number of things you need for a photoshoot that don't cost much, but help lead to success. Stay tuned for the next post.


This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Things to Make and Do with Your Digital Photos - Opportunity and Opportunity Cost

If you work with digital photos, there are many opportunities out there. However, it is important to read the "fine print."  Previously, a book, "Things to Make and Do with Your Digital Photos' was looking for submissions.

ASK Harriete PinkBlack Quarto does a nice job publishing their books and they say, "If we select your work for inclusion we will ask you to send the actual piece to us for photography." That means that the photos will be of good quality and consistency throughout the book. All that is great.  Here is the application. Download Quintet Call forDigitalImagesSubmissions

Sign by Custom Signs Express

On the other hand, I have serious reservations because of the "strings attached."  If your work is accepted, they then require that you also submit "a Word document with step-by-step instructions for remaking the project."  

In other words, you will be giving away your ideas and the process involved in making your work.

COMPASSdrawing I have a professional concern about the current mania for step-by-step projects.  If you participate, you are giving away your ideas and fabrication methods, literally showing other people how to duplicate your work.   I don't care if it is for 30-minute earrings, a master goldsmith project, or developing a technique for using digital photos.   

When someone starts selling work that looks like yours, you can not complain, nor send a Cease and Desist letter, nor file a lawsuit.  Protecting your copyright and ideas would be impossible if you agree to publish a step-by-step project of your design or process. 

You decide.  Is the visibility worth it?

Or can you design a project that doesn't give away your signature idea or methods?

Is this an opportunity?  What is the real cost of this opportunity?

SewingPATTERN To be perfectly clear, my reservation about "how to project" books is not directed to any specific publisher. Step-by-step instructions have a role for children's art projects and sewing patterns as two great examples.

But when a book publisher asks artists to make their work into a step-by-step project for other people to copy, this is crossing a line.

This deserves careful consideration before action.  What do you think?

This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

HOT TOPICS! Questions From the Audience at the Professional Development Seminar

The AUDIENCE asked the questions that they wanted to be answered! The energy was immediate and electric! The questions are on target for what artists and makers deal with every day. 

The discussion was further sparked by the interlaced perspectives and recommended strategies of the Niche Marketing and Photography in Flux speakers during the 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar.


Below are TWO SAMPLE QUESTIONS that came up during the PDS Lunch Discussion

Camera "What camera should I buy?  There are so many, it is kind of confusing."
"There is a growing number of digital cameras out there. Rather than suggesting specific brands," Roger Schreiber suggests "looking for 'certain features.'  It is absolutely important that you be able to control the focus, that you be able to control the aperture, and you be able to control the shutter speed. You should be able to tell the camera what color balance you want to use. And all the major manufacturers make those kinds of cameras. You should also be able to shoot in RAW. You don't necessarily have to have interchangeable lenses."

"I would totally ignore Megapixels. More pixels don't necessarily make for a better photograph.  I would think in terms of the size of the sensor. There are some cameras with full-size sensors."

Camerasensor_sizes "Look at the features and look at the sensor size.  "Point and shoot" cameras have an absolute tiny sensor in them that is less than 1/2" across. Some are packed with 14 megapixels. You are never going to see the details and shadows without a larger sensor. The handout by Roger Schreiber [Download Schreiber_Photo resources] lists a number of websites. "A couple of them will lead you to sites with camera reviews."

Do some research first. Learn what the terms RAW and sensor mean [so you understand the features described in the camera reviews].

emiko oye suggests renting a camera and lenses from your local camera store for a day. You don't need to spend $5,000 to get a professional camera. Her favorite lens is a 24 mm to 104  mm (which is like a portrait lens).  She adds, "jewelers should definitely buy a macro lens."

Boxes "How do you decide which work should be photographed by a professional photographer?"
Doug Yaple advises, "Look at your work and pick out the strongest pieces. If you have a really low budget,... pick out the five strongest pieces. And if you want, when you go to the photographer, take more than that, and talk about them ALL with the photographer. See what will translate into [the best] image. It may not be the piece you think. Work it down to fit your budget and then use those images as long as you can."
ApplesONE ROTTEN Christopher Conrad says: "Only use the images that are good. If you put out poor images of your work, it reflects on your work. If you can only afford two good shots, only put up two good shots. Don't put up five bad ones."

Hilary Pfeifer says: "I think it takes a lot of time when you're first starting out from school to get a good body of pictures. I remember it felt like four or five years for me until I could pick from the cream of the crop, but it is an investment. It's a really, really important investment to have professional photographers take the most important pieces."

Many more great questions . . . .
are a few highlights from the lunch discussion.

Questionsmarksline Is there a new standard emerging for photographic images?

What are the ethics of PhotoShopping your work images? Where do you draw the line between taking out dust specks and filling in a solder gap?

Who owns the rights to the photograph? What about "use fees" for a cover shot?

What kind of "master image" should you receive from your photographer?

Where do you find your market?  Etsy, websites, or traditional galleries?

Ideas for marketing your work and visibility for your blog.



* The following documents came up in the PDS Lunch Discussion:

Model Release Contract in the Professional Guidelines.

Roger Schreiber Photo resources with photography links.

Handout for the Photography in Flux speakers.

DIGITAL IMAGES File Extensions a quick tutorial
PPT and HANDOUT.Digital Images from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

This post was updated on February 9, 2022, to provide current links.

Is There A New Standard in Photographic Documentation of Art and Craft?

This is the critical question Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and I were trying to figure out when we organized the program Photography in Flux for the Professional Development Seminar.

Is there a new photographic standard emerging in the photographic documentation of art and craft?


After an entire morning of excellent PowerPoint presentations, Andy Cooperman asked the first question at the Professional Development Seminar lunch discussion,

"Is there a new photographic standard emerging?

BananaRepublicCASUAL "What I have been calling verity," sometimes called authentic,  "grunge meets Etsy, meets D.I.Y.. Companies like Banana Republic are spending a lot of money to look spontaneous."

MVearringsMarthe Le Van, Editor of Lark Books had an articulate response that captured the morning, "I think rather than a [new] standard, it is an expansion of the boundaries." "Rather than changing standards, they are just expanding." It has to be looked at on a "case by case situation, when it works, I think it works really well, but some- times it doesn't work." 

Photographer Christopher Conrad added, "also more people are doing their own shots. So one out of 99 might really work."

RogerSchrieberJimMongrain Roger Schrieber, a professional photographer, continued the conversation with a reference to his theater background. "There is the old theater adage, if it works leave it in. I approach photo shoots with the artists not focusing on the latest trends, but I want to shoot the best picture I can of that art."

Hanna Hedman Photo Credit Sana Lindberg Marthelevanmodelwithfish
Jewelry by Hanna Hedman
Photo Credit: Sanna Lindberg
Photo shown during Marthe Le Van PPT

"And the art usually tells me what it wants to look like. I was really impressed with the photographs that Marthe was showing us from Sweden. Very, very interesting stuff, but there are a lot of juries that wouldn't want to see that, but you've got to know what the juries want to see. You have to read your mail. You have to know what the juries are looking for. If that works, do it."


The above comments were taken from the recorded audio of the Professional Development Seminar. I have listened to all the lectures and discussions very carefully.  For hours I edited the audio recordings minute by minute. I learned so much from the speakers.


While it is pretty scary to dictate absolute standards,
I think some suggestions might help artists and makers veer away from mistakes toward better photographs of their art and craft.

So here are photo recommendations:



AVOID WRINKLED OR DRAPED FABRIC. It looks over-stylized and like a manufactured jewelry ad.

AVOID TEXTURED OR EMBOSSED PAPER. The background becomes distracting.

BACKGROUNDS SHOULD NOT HAVE A THEME . . . such as water, water-washed rocks, sand, moss, or leaves. These backgrounds distract attention away from the work and tend to look commercial at best.  Thematic backgrounds rarely translate well in a juried situation.

COLORED BACKGROUNDS SHOULD BE USED WITH CAUTION. It can be eye-catching or inappropriate. Think about three issues before adding color backgrounds: the work, the audience, and the color. It needs to be the perfect combination. While colored backgrounds may be fine for something fun such as a postcard special graphic, or online marketing they can look out of place in other contexts. Another problem with colored backgrounds is that they can look dated. The trend-setting color for the decade, screams passé in a few years. Avoid colored backgrounds if this is your only professional-quality shot. Your photos need to be an investment with a timeless quality.

BLACK BACKGROUNDS ARE VERY CHALLENGING. Many people think that black backgrounds are automatically a good choice for light, white or silver work. The reality is that most black backgrounds look like a black hole with no shadows except in the hands of the most skilled photographer. If you want black, lay down a sheet of glass on top of the black background to soften the appearance and create a subtle reflection.  Another option is dark gray instead of black as a safer choice.

A FINAL WORD OF ADVICE. The competition for people’s attention is enormous. The general public has become far more sophisticated in judging quality photography by seeing professional-quality photos every day in advertising, books, magazines, and online. The quality of the photo is the perceived quality and status of the art or craft.  Your image sends a very powerful message. Make it the best messenger possible for your work.

Two documents in the Professional Guidelines may help you with your images.



Facebook Crafthaus Are you wondering if your images are good enough? Would you like me to look at your images? Contact me through Facebook or Crafthaus. It is an easy way to share your images with me. Maybe we can work together to improve your images? ASK Harriete

This post was updated on February 8, 2022.

Photography in Flux Editors' Perspective - Are You Creating a Captivating Image?

Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective starts with Suzanne Ramljak, Editor of Metalsmith Magazine, writer, and curator. It continues with Marthe Le Van, Editor of Lark Books. The recorded program is now available for you to hear online with the original Powerpoint from the SNAG Conference.

As I edited the audio from the SNAG 2011 Professional Development Seminar I hung onto every word. I learned a lot about the editors' perspective on the qualities of the best photos, and mistakes they see every day.

Visual pollutionSR
This newsstand is an example of visual pollution in our "media-saturated culture". Suzanne Ramljak, Editor of Metalsmith Magazine, presented this as an establishing image in her lecture for Photography in Flux

How appropriate for a magazine editor to consider how the magazine competes on the newsstand with many other publications, candy, and packaging, all at the same time.


Did you ever think about how photos of your artwork compete with the "5,000 ads" people look at every day?


Irving Penn stilllife
  Irving Penn still life photo

Suzanne Ramljak offered many fabulous quotes:
"The still life photographer makes the photo as compared to takes the photo."  

Are you making the photos of your artwork fantastic, or are you merely taking a photo? Ramljak reinforces that "artists need to create a captivating image."

"There is no neutral background in a photo."

"Artists need a captivating image to compete with the visual noise without sacrificing the integrity of the object."

Botticelli compilation
Click for more examples of The Art of the Reproduction online.

Suzanne declares: "The web poses new challenges. Anything can happen to your images and does." Just consider this compilation of the painting, Birth of Venus, by Botticelli. Each square is from a different website. The variances represent the half-truths, misrepresentations, and lack of control artists, photographers, and editors have when images leave their computers and travel at the speed of light on the Internet.

Marthe Le Van_72 The Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective continues with Lark Books Editor, Marthe Le Van. Among the many issues addressed were the questions: What is a good cover photo? Is there a national, European, Asian, or international style to jewelry photography? 

MartheLeVancrossplatformimages Getting down to the nitty-gritty of photos on the Internet, Marthe confronts us with the reality of small postage stamp size images on a gallery website or social networking site. Do the photos of your art or craft have a strong enough graphic quality to get a viewer to click through on the image?

500 SilverJewelryDesigns Le Van answered a question that I have always wanted to know. What makes a good cover shot? What do you think? 

Earrings by Beate Klockmann  from the
book 21st Century Jewelry edited by
Marthe Le Van

 Is it possible to break all the rules and still have a great photo?

What are your questions? Can ASK Harriete offer answers? Open the discussion.

Listen and learn from the opinions and experiences of both of these experienced editors in Photography in Flux.


This post was updated on February 8, 2022, to provide current links.