Images have always been the indispensable mode of communication for artists and makers. With the Internet, the power of the image travels much further. Photographic images especially share one person's perspective of reality with the world. In recent years, more than ever, images convey an experience and inform an audience through social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The value of documentation with images sometimes supersedes the ephemeral event. For makers, having images ready to transmit whenever needed, can be a key to success.
During the months that I worked on TRUTH and the related bracelets, I took documentary photos. The studio shots brought great visibility to this work through CNN and KQED (local PBS station.) Even though those photos weren't professional quality it permitted me to participate in the political commentary of the moment. Despite the ease and convenience of taking photos with the amazingly versatile smart phone cameras, you want your final documentation photos to be professional quality. It would have been much less expensive to simply accept the in situ, in studio shots, but I know that professional quality photography needs a professional photographer with professional equipment and professional skills. For me, that is Philip Cohen, for more than 32-years and counting.
When I arrived to pick up my artwork at Phil's, I took some photos of his photo set up. I find the behind-the-scenes set up insightful. What is outside the camera frame is rarely shown and it reveals the tricks that a top notch photographer keeps handy.
Of course, the lights and the camera are on a tripod. That is step one for a good shot...and we rarely do that with our phones. That reminds me that a stand for my phone might improve my quick shots. Note that the lights shine up into the umbrella for a bright diffuse light. Buying those umbrellas doesn't cost that much, and they can be really handy for reflecting light.
Notice the large cardboard covered with aluminum foil. This reflects the light in a bright diffuse way, and by tilting it up or down it can reflect more light exactly where you want it. This works even if you don't have photo lights. In the photo below, you can see this same cardboard from another angle.
Note also the small cardboard with aluminum foil in the front of the set-up. If you look in the other photos you will see it is propped up on an easel right outside of the frame of the finished photo.
Fabricating TRUTH by Harriete Estel Berman Photo by Philip Cohen Photography.
In my next post, I will compare my quick cell phone photographs to those by a professional for your review & opinion.
This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.