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Plan The "Money Shot" Photograph of Your Art or Craft.

As mentioned in the previous post, Use Your Camera As An Impartial Opinion - A Third Eye, I reviewed ways to get a fresh perspective on your work while the making is in progress. Your digital camera is a quick, easy, and effective tool for impartially looking at your work.

Here is another valuable use of your camera while your work is in progress... TuBishvat Seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BermanYiBish

Use your camera to experiment for the final photographic images of your work.

While I am constructing my work, I am also planning the "money shot" or final image after completion.  The "money shot" is what my photographer, Philip Cohen, considers the one superlative image that best captures the essence of the piece; the one image that will be used most often to represent this piece for gallery and exhibition applications and likely be used on postcards, announcements, or in the exhibition catalog.

TuBishvat Seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman in progress from a different angle.jV

While you are most intimately engaged with a piece, right from the very beginning, start thinking about and planning this all-important image. Think about the angles of your work along with the theme and content. Think about what you want this photo to say. Don't wait until the last minute behind the camera to make this decision.


It is a bit of an eye-opener when we think about this: 
More people will see the photographic images of your work
than those who will ever see the work in person

Once you realize this fact, the photographs of your work take on much more significance.  So, think about your money shot in advance.


Artists usually have a mental vision of such an image.  In reality, when a camera lens can only take one image at a time, it can be difficult to predict exactly which angle or shot will come close to capturing that mental expectation.  But a little planning and experimentation will help.       


Take test shots.
As the work nears completion, take test shops to experiment with the best vantage points and angles that capture the most information.


Where should your camera be to capture the best part of the piece? Where should the viewer's gaze be to emphasize the most interesting aspects? What vantage point captures the theme or concept of the work?


As an exercise, scroll back to the top of this post and look at the photos of my Seder plate in progress.

The last four photos in this post were all test shots that I took quickly on a Sunday morning. The black background isn't the best for this piece, but a small black art table in the kitchen was the perfect size to set up the Seder plate and walk around taking some quick shots....pick your favorite position and your favorite photo.  Then continue from here to see the final "money shot" below.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Remember, 90% of the time this image will be the one image that will represent the work. Catalogs, magazines, publicity, postcards,....and more will use this one shot over and over.

Below is the money shot from photographer Philip Cohen.

HB SEDER Plate 2011 San Plex
What do you think? Ideas? Comments?


Previous posts related to this topic:

Guidelines and Tips for Working with Photographers - Handout by Doug Yaple from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

Finding a photographer? Working with your photographer? Getting the shot you want.

This post was updated on February 11, 2022.