Professional Development Seminar Feed

Photography in Flux - BAD Backgrounds Yield BAD Photos - Don't Let This Happen to Your Work

MartheLEvANKNITtexture While our panel of experts from "Photography in Flux" at the recent Professional Development Seminar (SNAG Conference Seattle) did not declare a "standard" for photography backgrounds, they did make it clear that BAD BACKGROUNDS create BAD PHOTOS. 

MartheLEvANBRISTLEtextureTo the right are two examples of bad backgrounds from Marthe Le Van's (editor of Lark Books) Power- Point presentation.

In the following photos, I have concealed the identity of the jewelry item so that you can focus on just the bad backgrounds (and to protect the identity).  A short description of the PROBLEM and suggested SOLUTION follows each photo so that you can avoid such problems in your photos.

AHHbackground
PROBLEM: In the photo above the texture of the background is too similar to the texture in the metal. (I would swear this is a dirty paper towel, but I could be wrong.) Additionally the silver metal is very close to the color of the background. There is not enough contrast between the earring and the background.
SOLUTION:
A plain background without texture would have improved this photo. Perhaps a darker grey background may have provided more contrast between the earring and the background.

 

AHBADbkCREASEpoorLAYOUT
PROBLEM: The background in this photo has a distracting crease. When photographing jewelry, any defect in the background is simply too obvious.
SOLUTION: If your cardboard or paper background is damaged, do not use it. It will ruin your photo along with ruining any chance that your photos or work will be accepted.

 

AHBADbkHOTspot
PROBLEM: There is too much background in this photo. It appears that the necklace might be draped over a round ceramic container. The glaze has a moderately distracting pattern and a shiny reflective surface. The reflected "hot spot" on the container makes the photo not so good.
See the bright white reflection on the upper right? It ruins the overall image because it distracts the viewer from looking at the necklace. Obviously this photo was taken with a single strong light source (not diffuse lighting) because the same hot spot is on the necklace.
SOLUTION: A plain background would be much less distracting. In addition, a diffuse or softened light source can be created by using a translucent paper or by bouncing strong light off a foam core for a softer light.

AHBADbkDISTRATING
PROBLEM: This necklace appears to be draped over the bottom of the same ceramic container. In addition to all the problems described above, we are distracted by looking at the random pattern of the unglazed ceramic bottom which is unfinished and unattractive.
SOLUTION:
Do not drape your jewelry over bowls, cups or plates of any kind, ever. This never looks like a professional quality photo because professionals don't do this. Find another solution.

 

AHbADbk
PROBLEM: The background for this photo is inconsistent and distracting from the pendent. The highly reflective surface creates dark shadows and washed out highlights.
SOLUTION:
A plain simple background allows your work to shine, without competing with the background.


AHHbackground drape
PROBLEM:
Do not use draped fabric for your background. It always looks commercial and corny.
SOLUTION:
Plain paper or a photographic background is a conservative but safe choice that will work for most situations.

 

AHhANGINGonTEACUP
AhcupearringsPROBLEM: These earrings are draped over the rim of a cup. While this is a common practice, it is NOT a good photo. What do earrings have to do with a cup or bowl? Nothing! Professional photographers don't drape earrings on a cup or bowl. In addition, the background behind the cups is even more distracting with color, light and reflection.
Andy Cooperman Earrings hanging from a mannequin, photo by Doug Yaple.SOLUTION: Earrings can be laid on a piece of paper, or hanging from a model or mannequin like this earring photo on the left by earring by Andy Cooperman.

 

 

 

 

 

ODDangleDARK

PROBLEM: The dark shadow on the left side of pendent and the pendent blend together. It creates a dark left half to the photo lacking interest. In addition, the pendant is dwarfed by too much background and the background has a touch of green in the upper right hand corner. Why? This is not O.K.

SOLUTION: Your background needs to be consistent within the entire frame. Also bounce light into the dark side of the pendent with foam core or aluminum foil over cardboard. See below for an improved photo.

AhODDangleDARK SOLUTION: I fixed this pendent image in Photoshop, lightening the left side of the photo enhancing the pattern and texture. Also by cropping off the green bit of background the pendent becomes the sole focal point of the image.


AhbowlBad photos are not limited to jewelry. The challenge of getting quality photographic images is very difficult for all media. Artists and makers should take it to heart that quality photographic images are interpreted as quality items, and vice versa, bad images are interpreted as poor quality work. AhdrapedonfabricGreat images can lead to professional success.

A BAD background sends an unintended message. This message may be amateurish, commercial, over-stylized, or a dated appearance.

Most of these images were selected off the Internet without permission. In most cases I obscured the actual item to avoid embarrassment by the maker.

Stay tuned to ASK Harriete for the next photographic issue raised during the Professional Development Seminar program Photography in Flux. The PDS was brought to you by the NEA, MJSA, and SNAG. New FLUX Seattle Logo  Small_V112010_   NEA  MJSA logo

 

Looking forward to the next post.

Harriete


Photography in Flux - We Have a Twitter Question!

TarabRANNIGANprofilepic2 During the Professional Development Seminar as part of the SNAG Conference we had "live blogging" by Tara Brannigan AND we had a Twitter question!

The question was addressed to Niche marketing speaker emiko oye from Tonya Davidson. Since we ran out of time during the PDS, she has answered it on ASK Harriete.

 “emiko, What tips do you have on finding models and determining costs?”

Emikoheadshot emiko says: When shooting your jewelry on models, it is important to select models that will not be distracting and that will be as complimentary as possible to your pieces.

 

 

EmikoOye model with good skin showing off her work. .

 

 

 

Good skin and posture is first and foremost.

As we heard Marthe Le Van comment during the Photography panel, as an editor she is very much turned off by body hair, cuts, bad manicures, and other distracting blemishes.


While it is permissible to Photoshop out pimples and blemishes,
you're better off starting with a healthier skinned model, especially if your Photoshop skills are less than expert.

Copy of emiko

Gaskin.FashionJewelry72
  Academy of Art fashion show hires
  professional models for showcasing
  student work. Necklace by Elliot Gaskin
  

Dancers, yoga practitioners and actresses/actors are the best models. They are most aware of how they hold themselves in their bodies. Dancers and actresses are most comfortable in front of the camera, plus know how to apply their own makeup.

 

 

 

Don't know any yogis, actresses or models? Post signs at dance and yoga studios, find the studios on Facebook and comment until someone replies. Ask your friends who they know, friends of friends are better contacts than cold-calling.

Photoshoot5970
Photo shoot with emiko oye as photographer. It takes a whole
crew to work with a model.


Tips from emiko before shooting your work on a model:
Recycled Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman 1. A manicure prior to their shoot time is important if you're shooting closeups of hands. Pay for the model's manicure or offer to reimburse them.  

2. Makeup is essential, even if it is just pressed face powder, mascara, and lip gloss, the application of these makes a huge difference, especially in closeup shots.

Recycled  collar by Harriete Estel Berman, photograph by Emiko Oye800
3. Control flyaway hair
with hair product or have the model pull their hair back into a bun or ponytail.
 

 

Curtis Arima necklaces in Sterling silver and gold
Necklaces by Curtis Arima
Do you think the nipples are distracting?

4. Try to avoid complete nudity unless absolutely necessary for the piece and unless your model has the most perfect body. Nipples are distracting.

5. Think about the clothing your model will wear and either ask them to bring several pieces to choose from, or provide something that will fit them.


Payment

I pay my models by the hour, including dressing/makeup prep time. It doesn't hurt to ask yourself what kind of wage would you want to earn? What is the cost of living in your city (NYC, NY models will cost you more than Des Moines, Iowa models, for example).

EMIKO
How strenuous or difficult will the shoot be? (Is your work cumbersome or uncomfortable and thereby wearing it for over an hour a real chore for the model?)

Friends may prefer to trade for your jewelry, but I always offer to pay as an alternative, because people will work harder for you knowing they're getting money in exchange. Don't take advantage of friends, those favors only go so far--just think how you would want to be treated if the tables were turned!

RecycledCurlyBracelet
Photography by emiko oye
Extremely Curly Recycled Bracelet
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

Remember to take many, many photos from all angles, change up the lighting, and have a surgeon's eye for detail during the shoot. You do not want to have to recreate this shoot!
Have fun!


Thank you emiko for answering this question on ASK Harriete.


How to Build a Better Drop Shadow in Photoshop - A Step-by-Step Powerpoint and Handout

The recent Professional Development Seminar during the SNAG Conference offered an informative program titled "Photography in Flux." One of the pressing issues in art and craft photo is the growing popularity of the stark white background, often with a stylized shadow near the work.

ChristopherConrad1 As part of the Professional Development Seminar, Photographer Christopher Conrad prepared a Step-by-Step HANDOUT and PowerPoint for "How to Build a Better Drop Shadow" in Photoshop. Now both of these are available on line for you to download and practice.

Strawberrycomparison


Step by step photoshop tutorial by Christopher Conrad for the Professional Development Seminar Both the PowerPoint and the Handout are step-by-step color images of this process in Photoshop. There is no complicated text, but beautiful didactic images so that you can do this yourself to improve the photographic images of your work with a soft and subtle shadow.

Step by step photoshop tutorial by Christopher Conrad for the Professional Development Seminar Find the Handout from the Professional Development Seminar How to Build a Better Drop Shadow - A Photoshop Tutorial by Christopher Conrad from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar on my website. It will also be posted on the SNAG web site soon.

Below is the Step-by-Step Photoshop Tutorial as a PowerPointHow to Build a Better Shadow - A Photoshop Tutorial by Christopher Conrad

The issues surrounding the white background for art and craft photography was discussed extensively on ASK Harriete several months ago. You can find the posts about shadows below. Your comments are welcome either on this post or the previous posts. Your experience and opinions can help other artists.

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:
 
Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


HANDOUTS from the Professional Development Seminar include tons of information

Short survey

Survey results from the Professional Development Seminar attendees indicates interest in topics that have been covered in past years. This reminded me of the information and HANDOUTS already available.

Pds_logoletterhead

Below are links to all the handouts from the
SNAG Professional Development Seminar
starting with the oldest at the top. 

COMMISSIONS from PDS 2007
                    
ARTISTS OPENING GALLERIES from PDS 2008

WEB 2.0 TECHNOLOGY PDS 2008

NEW MARKETING TRENDS PDS 2008

SUBMITTING WORK to GALLERIES and RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS - A four part series.

Storefront_ copy Galleries: Are They Right for You?
by Don Friedlich

Introducing Your Work to a Gallery
by Harriete Estel Berman

The Nuts & Bolts of the Gallery.Artist Relationship
by Andy Cooperman

Galleries: Issues to Consider After Your Work Has Been Accepted  by Andy Cooperman

The Art of Selling and Pricing Your Work PDS 2010

NICHE MARKETING AND PHOTOGRAPHY PDS 2011


DIGITALTIPSfinalRGBCMYK

Digital File Extension Tip Sheet PDS 2011 (above)

 


A Plethora of Information at Your Finger Tips.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of information at the SNAG Conference.

ASKHarrietePINS72Today's post will share information already available on line. Stay tuned for more information and blog posts about issues raised at the SNAG Conference, along with podcasts and SlideShare PowerPoints of the actual conference content from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar .

Here are the links for today.

There was LIVE BLOGGING by Tara Brannigan of:
A Smaller Conference Experience lunch discussion with Glenn Adamson and Lola Brooks

AND

The Professional Development Seminar. This includes three hours of programmng and the lunch discussion.

If people want to read from the very beginning, including the lunch discussion with Lola Brooks and Glenn Adamson, they should go to pdsnews on Tumbler and read from the bottom up.
 
If people want to read just the PDS and follow-up Q&A, they should go to the bottom of page four on pdsnews on Tumbler and read up until they reach the top of the first page:


Tarabrannigantype Tara asked me to tell you that she did her best to ensure the content was accurate, but her fingers were flying fast and furious. She was typing the entire time!!!!!!!  She says, "Some sections are paraphrased or perhaps lacking a bit of context, just due to the limitations on how fast I can actually type."

IF you have any questions about what was said, leave a comment on ASK Harriete. I will do my best to contact the speakers directly.

There are THREE HANDOUTS from the SNAG
Professional Development Seminar. At this time they can be found on the Professional Development Seminar page on my web site.  

Brochure3animated

The Professional Guidelines  offer two documents that are also very helpful and related to this information:
GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL QUALITY IMAGES
WORKING WITH DIGITAL IMAGES EFFECTIVELY

Blogtalkradio A Blog Talk Radio interview with Niche Marketing speaker Emiko Oye and me, Harriete Estel Berman, can be found on Jay Whaley Blog Talk radio. (The very beginning is a little garbled for about a minute....keep listening.)

Copy of DigitalImageGR


The Professional Development Seminar is "GRRREAT!"

Tony_the_tiger

I've just finished organizing the Professional Development Seminar HANDOUTS and PowerPoints from our speakers. I get a sneak preview and they are "Grrrrrreat"!!!!!!!!

The handouts are available early for people who would like to print their own copy before, during or after the SNAG Conference. We are printing 500 copies, but expect our audience to be much larger!

The handouts are available on line even if you aren't going to the Conference for those who would like to prepare for the live blogging during the Professional Development Seminar.

Tony-the-TigerFULL One of the handouts is a Step by Step Tutorial for Adding a Drop Shadow in PhotoShop. This handout, prepared by Christopher Conrad, has over 80 images showing how to create your own fabulous images.

Photographer Doug Yaple created a three page handout, Guidelines and Tips for Working with Photographers. This is just the frosting, with no flakes, and the beginning of the "Grrrrrreat" information that will be happening at the PDS.

Tony_the_tiger shouldershead-lg Photographer Rober Schreiber and our Niche Marketing speakers emiko oye, Hilary Pfeiffer, and Deb Stoner have prepared informative PowerPoints that are also a "Grrrrrreat" visual feast. I can't wait to hear what each one of the speakers has to say.

Suzanne Ramljak, editor of Metalsmith Magazine, asked for more time for her lecture! Marthe Le Van from Lark Books will give us the inside scoop behind the scenes of art and craft book publishing.

Harriete

P.S. I leave early Thursday. See you in Seattle, or stay tuned to Twitter ,Facebook or ASK Harriete for updates.

Listen to Jay Whaley Blog Talk radio on Saturday 3:00-3:15 for live interview between me and Jay Whaley.

Funky revelation below:

Quilt dress1975
Here I am in 1975 kissing my Grandfather. He is wearing a classic 1975 leisure suit during a party for my sister. I will be wearing this same dress and earring (I can only find one) at the 2011 SNAG Conference 1970's party in Seattle. Imagine that. A sight not to be missed!


RGB or CMYK, web or print? Get ready for the Professional Development Seminar!

Get ready for the Professional Development Seminar this Saturday.

NBC-1956-logo One of the topics is Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style. The issues are complicated.

 

The world of photography for art and craft is changing rapidly. Is your photography up to date? Does it represent your work effectively?

Alphabet_soup-2350Just to be sure that there is no confusion (before we hear the opinions of three photographers and two editors), I am giving a short tutorial on digital images. Did you read the last post on Digital Image (extensions) - Or alphabet soup? A quick tutorial.

Next:
Do you know the difference between RGB and CMYK?

Both RGB vs. CMYK define the specific color space of a document. By assigning, or tagging, a document with a color profile, the application provides a definition of actual color appearances in the document.

Rgb LCD-MonitorHB RGB is for web/screen viewing.

RGB is a digital camera’s original format.

RGB stands for the colors of light: red, green and blue.


RGB is for web/screen viewing
but some digital printers use RGB, so it is always best to ask which format they prefer.

 

 

BooksCover2
                                                        Photo Credit: Emiko Oye

PrintercartridegeCMYK is for print. 

CMYK stands for the ink colors cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black).

Don’t convert your images to CMYK unless instructed to do so by the printer.

Converting to CMYK results in lost data unless your Photoshop Layers are flattened first.

Stay tuned for live blogging from the PDS at the following locations:
http://PDSnews.tumblr.com and http://www.twitter.com/PDS_news this coming weekend.

You can print your own copy of the Handout early.  ASK Harriete will post an announcement. (The handouts are amazing by the way with lots of good information from our speakers.)

Learn more about the Professional Development Seminar this Saturday with our photographers Douglas Yaple, Roger Schreiber, and Christopher Conrad along with editors Marthe Le Van of Lark Book and Suzanne Ramljak, Metalsmith Magazine.

Topics include:
• Are you being judged by the style of your images?
• How much post production is acceptable and who should do the work?
• Current trends in background and composition.
• The model or the pedestal?
• And much more....

More information about WORKING WITH DIGITAL IMAGES EFFECTIVELY and GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL QUALITY IMAGES is available on line from the Professional Guidelines.

Harriete

  Life
Life_bk

LIFE Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman will be show at the SNAG Trunk Show
1900 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA
Sunday, May 29th from 3pm - 5pm


LIVE BLOGGING for the Professional Development Seminar in Seattle, WA

FOR OVER A YEAR Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and I (Harriete Estel Berman) have worked on planning for the
Professional Development Seminar...
and it is almost here!

PDSCraftReportcolor500
This is scheduled for Saturday, May 28, 2011
9:00 AM -12:00 noon...followed immediately by a brown bag lunch discussion. Brownbag

We will cover two topics:
Niche Marketing
with:

Photography in Flux with three photographers and two editors:

ASKHarrietePINS72 The Professional Development Seminar is part of the SNAG Conference, but it is also open to the public.

Anyone can come and listen to this information for $40 at the door.

No pre-registration is necessary. If you live in the Seattle area or know anyone who does this information is not to be missed by any artist or maker.

This year we're trying something new with the Professional Development Seminar!

We know everyone can't all be there in person, so we're bringing the PDS to you! 

Tara Brannigan will be blogging live during the Professional Development Seminar with quotes, links, photos and more at the following locations:
http://PDSnews.tumblr.com
http://www.twitter.com/PDS_news
 
Check it out and stay tuned as we kick off this year's PDS
on Saturday, May 28, 2011, 9:00 a.m. to 1:15 PT! 

In the next few days, I will be offering background and information about the upcoming  Professional Development Seminar.

Wait till you see the handouts! They are fantastic!

Wait till you see the PowerPoint presentations from our speakers. I am working on putting them together now! The information is fabulous.

Stay tuned for sneak previews!

 Did you miss the previous posts about photography. ASK Harriete worked through some of the challenging photography issues for artists and craftspeople? Scroll through the long list of posts. Quality photographic images are the #1 most important issue for artists and makers.

The PDS is sponsored by  NEA logo the NEA and MJSA. MJSA logo


What's in a Name? Is Your Artist Identity LOST or FOUND in a sea of names?

Harriete,

Should I have a business name?  I’m stumbling and struggling on how to come up with a name.

Signed,
A reader in search for a name!

PDSCraftReportcolor72 While this question is a condensed version of questions from readers, it represents a fairly frequent issue. It also highlights concerns that are relevant to the Niche Marketing theme for the upcoming Professional Development Seminar  at the Seattle SNAG Conference.

PDS speakers include:

Hilary Pfeiffer who uses her own name for her serious work, but calls her wedding toppers business "Bunny with a Tool Belt".

emiko oye refers to her jewelry line as Reware (though I noticed that the web site name is actually "reware style.")

Deb Stoner has always chosen to do her work under her own name as her artist identity.

ChocolateQuestion200 What I want to ask all our speakers and readers of ASK Harriete:

"Why did you choose to operate under a fictitious business name rather than your own name as an artist or maker?"

"How did you pick this particular business name?"

My primary concern with a business name is the difficulty that most people have developing even one artistic identity, let alone two. In most cases I believe it splits awareness you have built and confuses potential customers or your online network.

Focus-on-goals-1 It would seem to be a lot more focused to keep one name for your web site, email, Facebook, LinkedIN, Flickr, all 2.0 social networking and on-line marketing . One name, or a variant of your name, constantly reinforces one singular identity. Repeated consistently at every site helps the one identity to gain recognition.

Vera-wang There are many examples of companies in all industries who are well known under an individual name such as Jack Lenor Larsen, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang (right) and Thomas Kinkade.

Mrclean_logo To add further emphasis to the idea of one name, it is considered a strong marketing advantage to have a singular identity to represent a brand. Examples include Aunt Jemima, Mr. Clean, Dear Abby to Papa John's, or personal testimonials that create intimacy with a brand such as Keira Knightley in advertising for Channel.

Keira-Knightley-for-Chanel-Coco-Mademoiselle-Perfume Artist's already have a name to associate with a product. Why would we dilute this asset by creating a company name?

Here are some practical suggestions about names that may enhance the effectiveness of an identity.

  • Is the spelling of the name unique in some way?
  • Would your middle name or maiden name create a more unique name?

HEB2.72gr For example, my mother made up her own spelling for Harriete when I was born. At this point, it works really well to differentiate my Harriete from all more common spellings of Harriet, or Harriette. Look up Harriete on a Google search with an "e" at the end. Tell me what happens.

Bunny1 Think about your identity name carefully.  If you are making up your own business name, make it memorable. It seems to me that "Bunny With a Tool Belt" is wacky enough to be memoralble. That is good marketing. On the other hand, on her postcard (above right) Hilary Pfeifer did not put her name anywhere on the card. "Bunny with a Tool Belt" is the business identity.

I admit to being confused by this approach. All the name recognition gained for either your business or your own name doesn't really benefit the other...unless you market them together.

Reware1 Reware_solar_tote Rewareeverest RewareEmikoshorts PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR BUSINESS NAME should avoid using a term in your business name that has many other associations. Ironically, "reware" (used by emiko oye for her web site and business identity) has many other search results (shown to the left) from reware clothing, to a reware business for solar bags, solar backpacks, computer parts,  and software. Starting out with a business name with many other search associations just makes it harder to stand out as a singular identity in any niche market for your business. (Try typing in Reware in an image search to see what happens.) 

If there is a list of competitors with the same or similar business names, it is hard to get a top search engine ranking for your business.

HEB1.72gr

 

So in summary, I'd suggest working with your own name and making it distinctive and memorable.

What is your solution to this deliemma and why? I'd like to hear what the readers of ASK Harriete have to say to add insight to this issue. What are the search results for your name, business name and web site? Are you Lost or Found?

Harriete.

Future posts will be about Tag lines and improving SEO for your images and web site with easy suggestions.


Discovering Your Niche Markets for Increasing Web Site Visibility.

The Professional Development Seminar is sponsoring an hour of discussion about Niche Marketing.  New FLUX SNAG Seattle Logo  Small_V112010_ Questions for our speakers include the following:

  • How to discover a Niche Market?
  • Should you use your name or a business name?
  • Should you have a tag line?

These three issues are interrelated and applicable to all artist and makers. The topic is enormous! Everyone has a niche audience (or even several niche markets), we just have to figure out who they are and how to tap into the potential.

In a series of posts, ASK Harriete will tackle these issues and how they impact web site visibility for artists and makers. This series will include tips for Search Engine Optimization (simple and easy to understand) without technical talk offering ideas that you can readily implement to bring more visibility to your web site.

This post is devoted to Discovering Your Niche Markets for increasing web site visibility.

web site for Harriete Estel Berman on a telephone Driving traffic to our web sites is not a passive activity.  It isn't effective to simply put up your web site and wait for traffic.  "If I post it, they will come" is a Hollywood dream.

Driving traffic to your web site takes some effort to find niche markets.  This is the creative part but, we need to raise our consciousness to see the opportunities. It all revolves around, What will interest other people?

Longtail Don't just look at the art and craft world for interested viewers. The identifiable art/craft world is small and rarefied.  However, if you think about all your activities and topics, I bet you will find multiple niche markets for your work.  Somewhere out there in the Long Tail of the Internet, there are people who don't know your work and how amazingly relevant it is to their interests.

Here is a recent example of discovering a niche market and then driving traffic to my website that actually prompted this post.

Pencil2_7_2011pullingwarp Pencil_stanineWEBsite

I am in the final phase of a four year project constructing a gigantic bell curve entirely out of pencils -- quite literally, thousands of real pencils. The work is a commentary about the impact of standardized testing on education.

BLACKwingpencil A few weeks ago, a curious looking pencil caught my eye and I happened to do a quick Internet search.  To my amazement, I learned that it is a "collectible" pencil.  What a surprise?  It never occurred to me that one pencil may be worth $30 to $45!

YikesThen I realized another of my pencils was printed with a pencil collector's name, address and the American Pencil Collector SocietyNow looking further online, I learned that there are blogs about pencils and pencil collectors! Who would have thought that this pencil niche existed!!!!!!  This is the Long Tail in the shape of a long skinny pencil!

My first Internet search discovered pencils.com.  They normally feature a pencil artist every Monday. They said, "Although you're not drawing art with these pencils, you are creating art right out of pencils!" This resulted in a feature post on their website about my artwork titled, "Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin."

If you read their short post about my pencil sculpture, you will see more niche marketing.  Pencils.com used the blog post about the featured artist (me)  to bring more visibility to two of their "niche markets" - collectible pencils and an link to selling pencils for taking standardized tests!  

PencilsHarrieteWORKING While the artist feature post on Pencils.com about Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin  may or may not result in a purchase of my work or an exhibition opportunity, you never know. Maybe someone will invite me to exhibit my pencil bell curve at their pencil convention. Now that my awareness of pencil associations is raised, I looked online. There are pencil conventions all over. Imagine that? More untapped niche markets.

In addition, the blog post on pencils.com is driving a bit of extra traffic to my web site. The more traffic to my web site, the higher my ranking. The higher the ranking the more people will see my art work about pencils....

The web has a Long Tail, and I am going to ride that long tail where ever it goes.

41h0cZRmWKL._SL160_ How can you make The Long Tail work for you?  Can you think of a material, color, design, subject, or any other aspect that is unique to your work? Try doing a search. The blossoming of so many blogs and web sites about the most arcane of topics means that they are looking for entertaining ideas for their readers.  Your work may become the subject of an upcoming post! 

Seriously, time to put your thinking cap on. Have you considered the many possibilities to find your Niche? Are you ready to ride the Long Tail? You might find new customers, clients, collectors or exhibitions for your work that you never expected.  

Stay tuned for more ideas and discussion for niche marketing, business names and tag lines. Pro and cons please get ready to weigh in with your opinion.

The Long Tail is an affiliate link and definitely recommended reading for learning how closely connected the internet and niche markets really are for you work.


Nudity, Nipples or TMI in Your Photos

X ratedTRUE CONFESSION: I am NOT trying to sell a new car, TV, or any other consumer product with the allure of sex. But is this tactic from consumer advertising as effective in the art and craft community?

Recently during the photo series on ASK Harriete the subject of nudity, nipples, or TMI ("too much information") in photos of jewelry, clothing and small objects was raised by a number of readers.

Andy Cooperman commented about the juror's dilemna when judging photography submissions. "While jurying exhibitions, I have invariably come across images in which the work (usually a neckpiece) is featured frontally on a nude (usually female) model. "

Curtis ARIMA plant sculpture with breastsPLANT
   "Propagation/Production"
  Sterling Silver, Copper, 18k
   © Curtis Arima

He continues, "While this offers certain benefits, it is most often a turnoff to me as a juror because I feel that there is a manipulative aspect to the image. Am I responding to the work or to the body? Am I responding as a man or as a juror? The work had better be VERY good for me to get past this feeling and accept it. No one wants to feel that they are being manipulated."

 

Curtis ARIMA man NECKLACEsbellybutton
"Spiculum Necklaces"
and "ball and chain necklace"
Sterling silver, and 18k gold
© Curtis Ariman

Nude SEX selling JEWELRY.NAKED Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus added: "Andy's point regarding the choice of model and how much skin is revealed to manipulate a buyer or jury is spot on. I would not put certain 'tactics' above some artists. In a world loaded with information, why not add a little something to be noticed.... I am sure it is done on purpose. "

 



She adds: "Can I as an artist use this to my advantage?
Should I be employing this technique at all?  Is it ethical and under which circumstances does this work?  Most importantly, when and where does it not work? Oh boy, what a can of worms."

I agree with both Brigitte and Andy. From my perspective, the nude in a photograph of jewelry, clothing or three dimensional objects is problematic for lots of reasons.

Curtis ARIMA NECKLACE WITH V NECKLINE

"Spiculum Necklace"
Sterling silver, 18k
© Curtis Arima

Considering the difficulty of getting a great shot with the model that does NOT distract from your art or craft, is it better to focus on the work with less of the body, nudity, or nipples?  At what point is the model distracting or enhancing?

What do you think?

Is this TMI?

Thank you to Curtis Arima who has allowed images of his work to be used in this post on ASK Harriete.
Find more of Curtis Arima's work at his web site or visit his studio at: the SawTooth Building, 2547 8th Street Studio 30B, Berkeley,CA 94710.


Photo Styling - "Reality" or Getting Real - an Authentic Opinion

Hotbutton We've been discussing photos for almost two months, there is so much to consider. Your photos are the MOST IMPORTANT tool in the artist's or makers tool box.

Fantastic72  

 

Your photos are like Superheros traveling at the speed of light, working 24 hours a day, shrinking and expanding at the touch of a button. The folks at Search Engine People sum up this discussion about images perfectly:

The old adage is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But you do it anyway, so it’s useless to pretend that others don’t, as well. Content may be King, but Appearance is the horse it rides in on, be it a magnificent steed or a gimpy nag.

One of the hot button topics is photo styling which was be discussed at the 2011 Professional Development Seminar in Seattle.  Photo styling as in the stylistic appearance of the photos for your work.

Authenticity The question we are all asking is, "What attributes make an effective photo in documenting art or craft?"  My observation is that there is a shift in the marketplace toward the concept of somehow "capturing authenticity."

Advertising and marketing increasingly strives toward "real" and "just like me".  Even when models are used, the models are presented with a less formal appearance, almost moving to ordinariness. Advertising is suggesting a more "authentic" context or "back story", instead of glamor or seduction.

Teacup Sculpture by Harriete Estel Berman as a commentary about our consumer society. But let's not be fooled. The models, however "real" in their appearance are still models. They have just spent hours in hair and make-up, their photos are taken by professional photographers with 10 assistants to make sure that the "authentic" look doesn't look fake. But this "real and authentic" look is still fabricated, and the photos are still airbrushed.

Authenticity Hoax, How We Get Lost Finding OurselvesI am still amazed that television has successfully coined the phrase "reality show" to describe completely synthetic scenarios populated by selectively skewed "ordinary" people who are thrown into bogus competitions. Or what about commercials that LOOK like they are REAL testimonials? Is a "behind the scenes" Victoria Secret Fashion Show really real?

Buyology Art and craft photography is trending right along side this current style in marketing. To quote Martin Lindstrom from the book, Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. "What we're beginning to witness in the advertising world today is a fascinating marriage between the world of the airbrushed supermodel and the world of the ordinary consumer -- a blurry union between perfect and not so perfect."

Counter Culture As the selling of "authenticity" grows, the marketing of art and craft will continue to evolve.  However, I am concerned by an overemphasis on enhancing reality with artificial authenticity.  

The handmade object remains as authentic as it gets. Art and craft doesn't need to dumb down our work or reduce the quality of our images to enhance reality. We are still selling the one thing that can't be mass produced, the touch of the hand, the quality and craftsmanship from personal care and attention by artists and makers that really do care along with fabulous ideas.

What do you think? Do makers need to enhance authenticity or style reality in the photography of their very real work?  How do you photograph and sell the authenticity of your work? 

Links for these books are affiliate links abd provided for your convenience. Clicking on the book title, or image may provide revenue to support this blog. Your local library may also have these books.  


Side by Side Comparison - The Whites of The Model's Eyes? Issues and Answers

The previous post titled, Side by Side Comparison - Do You Want to See the Whites of Their Eyes When Photographing the Model?  attracted some excellent comments. A super gigantic "THANK YOU" to everyone who left their opinions.

Let's start with three related questions:
Do you like seeing the models eyes -- or are the model's eyes a distraction?
Do you prefer seeing the models entire face?
Does looking at the model's face and eyes distract you from looking at the necklace?

BruceMetcalfnecklaceBruceMetcalfnecklaceonly
Original Photo                Version 2 Cropped w/Photoshop
"Lucia's Poppy Necklace" 2010   © Bruce Metcalf.
Mixed mediums, wood, paint. Model: Natala Covert.

RecycledmILKNECKLACE Recycledcollar800
Option A                                  Option B
Recycle Necklace
© 2010   Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit:(left) Liz Hickok         (right)Emiko Oye 

Recycled collar by Harriete EStel BermanFirst, let's diagnose the images and issues involved. To begin, the human brain is genetically programmed to look at eyes. Advertizers know this and this is why model's in advertising usually stare into the camera, and "smize with their eyes" to quote super model Tyra Banks. The model catches the viewer's eye and STOPS the viewer. High impact and high risk. Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus said in her comments, "For marketing/PR, I would most likely go with the shots where the full face can be seen."

Bruce Metcalf necklaceonlyIn contrast, most of the comments from readers  preferred the images that were cropped above the lips so that the focus was entirely on the necklace. These shots were considered more appropriate to highlight the work, especially for jury slides.  The model's eyes are percieved to be a powerful distraction from the jewelry. Andy Cooperman also pointed out that when "including the model's portrait, the amount of the frame occupied by the actual piece becomes much smaller." GOOD POINT!

Marj-schick-collarAs an alternative, a common practice when using the model in art and craft photography is to divert the gaze. The model either casts their eyes down (as in photo above of Bruce Metcalf's necklace) or diverts their gaze to the side as in Marjorie Schicks Spiraling Over the Line  (left photo). 

GUILLOTINEFallbeil_muenchen_1854 AVOID THE GUILLOTINE: If you don't want to include the entire profile, then crop the photo just above the lips.  This eliminates the guillotine/amputation problem discussed in a previous ASK Harriete post where cropping a photo cut off at the hand (or the head) which looks weird.  Cropping above the lips also eliminates any distraction of the eyes, hair, forehead, or ears. Much less to worry about, Phew! Even a stray hair in a photo can be really distracting.

Rubbergloves Brigitte Martin from Crafthaus addressed the most important issue when considering a model. "Ad agencies everywhere use specific model types for specific reasons, you will not find a sexy model advertising cleaning supplies.  And "granny" won't be able to convince you to buy perfume.  The choice in model, no matter how generic the shot, will ALWAYS influence the viewer, even if you try very hard to stay neutral.

EunYeongJeong
  A stylized model shot victimized by the
  amputated head approach to jewelry
  photography.
  Don't let this happen to your photos!
 

It's human nature to react to images of people and to form a subconscious opinion on the spot (DNA remaining from our Neanderthal past). That's why Kate Moss makes the big bucks."

WORDS OF ADVICE: If you decide to use a model, try to align the style of your model to the style of the work. Focus on the objective of the photo. The intended purpose, whether postcard, print, online, jury, or advertising may influence your decision on the best photo.


Side by Side Comparison - Do You Want to See the Whites of Their Eyes When Using a Model?

When using a live model instead of a mannequin there are so many issues to consider. Today we will look at side by side comparisons of photos from Bruce Metcalf and my own work.

Metcalf had a discussion brewing about this image on his Facebook page. He has graciously allowed me to show the original photo and a modified version for this discussion on ASK Harriete.

Now, pretend that you are a juror and you have 5 to 10 seconds to make a decision to accept or reject.  Go with your gut reaction and make an immediate decision.

Here are the photos. Below are the questions:

Bruce Metcalf necklace Bruce Metcalf necklaceonly
Original Photo     V.1      Version 2 Cropped w/Photoshop
"Lucia's Poppy Necklace" 2010   © Bruce Metcalf.
Mixed mediums, wood, paint. Model: Natala Covert.

A second set of photos illustrates a similar issue. This time the model is looking straight at you. Same necklace, different models, different poses.

Recycledcollar800 RecycledmILKNECKLACE
Option A                                  Option B
Recycle Necklace © 2010   Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit:(left) Liz Hickok         (right)emiko oye 

Which photo do you like best?

Which photo better presents the necklace?

Do you like seeing the model's face or eyes? Or is too much of the model distracting?

Do the model's face and hair add important information about the necklace or is it a distraction?

Do you think the skin color is better in the Metcalf Original Photo or in Version 2?

Are there other questions that you would like to ask?

Please give your comments and opinions. 

No answers  from ASK Harriete, today.  I don't want to bias your opinion. I will aggregate a consensus in the next post.  Please leave your opinion in the comments below or on Facebook, or email me directly.

Levels Plus, I am going to include a short Photoshop lesson soon about using Levels for photo "magic."

Discussion of the model issues will continue on Thursday when a range of opinions will be expressed.

DISCLAIMER: Obviously, the photographic images illustrating Bruce Metcalf's "Lucia's Poppy Necklace" are not the same size because I cropped a vertical shot, cutting off the model's face right above the lips. The original rectangular image is now a more square format.

I compensated a little by making the Version 2 image a little wider. If I had the original image, I could have played with the proportions a little better, but it does bring up an important point. Square images often appear more pleasing on the Internet whereas just a few years ago, a square image would have been very unusual.


A Hand in the Photo Holds Lots of Problems - I hope these aren't your photos?

In this post, a dedicated reader of ASK Harriete submitted a group of photos where the "hand in the photo holds lots of problems."  These were selected from the Internet as "worst case" examples.  Below are 5 common mistakes and solutions to improve your photos. 

HandHOLDING PIN  MISTAKE #1
Hands holding jewelry.

Don't use your fingers or hand to hold a piece of jewelry or sculpture.  The fingers or a hand are always a distraction. In this example, I am betting the person held the brooch over a scanner bed, hence the black background and light on the finger tips.

A similar problem exists in the next photo where the jewelry is cradled in the hand. While the hand may have been an attempt to provide scale, this hand is distracting at best. The fingers are wrinkled and dry, the skin color distracts from the clarity of the glass, and the partial background of white aquarium stones is problematic. Notice that this is a left hand, the right hand is probably trying to hold the camera and shoot at the same time. It's not working. This is not a good photo of the jewelry.Handmade-Lampwork-Beads-Necklace

SOLUTION: Avoid holding jewelry if a plain background will work much better. Options include pinning a brooch into a plain piece of paper or cardboard. Earring posts or ear wires can also go through the background paper.

Another solution is to use Museum Wax or Earthquake Hold to temporarily hold or "stand up" the beads, rings or jewelry on the background.

Avoid being your own hand model. Lay the necklace, beads or jewelry on a neutral background and do your best photography with two hands!
To establish scale: Write the dimensions of the jewelry/object in the description.

HANDgold-webbed-glove-1 MISTAKE #2
Fingernails that look like talons.

Obviously, carefully manicured fingernails are important, but  these long fingernails painted in a dark, high contrast color are a distraction. Describing these fingernails as talons may be overly harsh, but you get what I mean.

SOLUTION: A lighter, less dramatic nail color may have fixed the problem. This example also demonstrates how important it is to focus on the art or craft work in the photo and avoid distractions.

MISTAKE #3
The Stiff Hand or Arm

The arm (above left) looks stiff, flat, and awkward.
SOLUTION: Have the hand in a more natural position (near the body), clothing behind the arm should not have any pattern to work as a "neutral background."

MISTAKE #4
Model not appropriate to jewelry.
HANDHAIRY ARM
In the next photo (right), the arm is too large for the size of the small, delicate bracelet.  For some reason the bracelet seems like it is in the wrong place on the arm.

SOLUTION: Jewelry should always be displayed on a model appropriate to the work. Delicate work should be displayed on a small, delicate model. Sophisticated work on a sophisticated model, etc.

MISTAKE #5
Amputation of the hand.

Cutting off the hand at the wrist is always a bad composition. (The hand may not be relevant to the work, but cutting it off never works.)

SOLUTION: Either include all of the hand or don't put the jewelry on a model's arm.

The previous post (about photographing 3-dimensional objects, clothing or jewelry) described a few of the issues when including the hand in photos. This is part of an extensive series about photography as a foundation for the upcoming Professional Development Seminar.I hope to see you there. Ask your questions in advance by sending them to me.

Also ask your questions at a workshop with me in Pennsylvania sponsored by the PA Guild of Craftsmen. April 9th and 10, 2011.

Harriete

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:
Photo Magic or "POOF" Photo Disaster - The Hand as a Prop in the Photographic Image

The model or the pedestal? Which is the more effective image?

Breaking the "Rules" with Style AND Perfection - Photos that work!

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


The model or the pedestal? Which is the more effective image?

Photographing jewelry, sculpture or clothing intended to be worn on the body presents specific challenges. The biggest question is what is the most effective  photographic image-- a model or a more "neutral" background without the figure? This is one of the topics to be discussed at the Professional Development Seminar.

MannequinSchick
Spring Green Necklace
Painted papeier mache
© 1993 Marjorie Schick
Photo Credit: Gary Pollmiller

Using a mannequin can be a striking solution, midway between a live model and an isolated object. This photo (left) of work by Marjorie Schick uses a mannequin that is stylistically consistent with the work. It works perfectly!

Don't confuse this dramatic solution with a headless muslin sewing mannequin that was "found" at a flea market. It is NOT the same thing.

On the other hand, a live model is sometimes the only solution to bring out the best for your work, but a model in the photo adds multiple levels of complexity.

Modrelease2010_Page_2

If using a live model, begin with the Model Release Contract from the Professional Guidelines. At least this contract lets you be comfortable knowing that your model is allowing you to use their image in your photos.

Boris Bally necklace on model
  Scrap Leaves: B Wear Necklace
  
© 2005 Boris Bally
  Constructed  from street signs.
  Artist: Boris Bally
  Photo Credit: Aaron UsherIII

 

Next decision, use a model consistent with the type of work. The appearance of your model has a HUGE IMPACT on the artwork being photographed.  Boris Bally's work on the right made from street signs finds context with a model right out of the urban environment.  If a professional model is outside your budget, use a dancer, athlete or yoga participant. Their body positions are often more graceful.

IMG_5965.72
  Photo shoot
  emiko oye photographer

Lighting is KEY to great photos. Bounce cards with natural lighting is the easiest way for amateur photographers to get better "fill light" with or without a model.

Photoshootbouncecards

 

Bounce cards can be plain white foam core, a mirror or aluminum foil over cardboard. You can also buy professional level photography umbrellas, etc. but the "homemade suggestions" work just fine.

At the shoot with a live model, be prepared. You need at least one or two extra people to hold bounce cards when you try to capture the right moment of sunshine.

Recycledstraight72 For example, the photos in this post were from a recent "home grown" photo shoot.

I must confess that I've learned a lot about shooting models from watching America's Top Model. Laugh at me all you want, but if you need to use models to photograph your work, then watch this show for helpful insights. (Cycle 16 premieres Wednesday, Feb. 23!) Listen to the experts critique the photos, learn from their voices of experience. While fashion photography is not the same as photographing art and craft, there are many tips you can carry back to your own photography.

Recycled2or When using models, be prepared for a long photo shoot. Working with models always seems to take at least twice as long as you plan. Hair, make-up, clothing, lighting are all a significant factor. Adding the problems involved in the way the jewelry, clothing or art actually fits (or doesn't fit) on the model, is a very complex puzzle.

Recycled2OrBRarm 

What do you think? The model or the pedestal?

The next post will be about the problem with hands in a photo shoot. Don't shoot yourself in the foot, or should I say hand. Do you know how to get great hand model photos?

Harriete 

Recycle Plastic Bracelets shown above by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from post consumer recycled plastic. Photos by emiko oye

51yuPuUf-bL._SL160_ Looking for a beautiful book with amazing images of the manequin and the model. Marjorie Schick's book about her art to wear offers 100's of images that might inspire your next photo shoot.

 


Watermarks on photos - Not Good, The Bad and The UGLY

Marie Kazalia abstract plaid1lrg
      Abstract Plaid #1
     © 2010 Marie Kazalia
     Artist Oil, Alkyd Paints on Canvas

What do you think of digital watermarks and such? I cringe when I see them.
Maria Kazalia

Maria,

This is a good point to bring up during this photography series on ASK Harriete.  When you say digital watermarks, I want to focus on the watermarks on images of art or craft Manpainting-- not about the digital watermarks on STOCK PHOTOS intended to drive purchase of the photo (like the left image). 

I wrote about watermarks once before, but I wanted to bring this up again and be very clear. Putting a watermark, icon, signature on top of, over, near, or in the corner of photographic images of art or craft is a huge mistake. Don't do it.

Watermark When I see a watermark on a photo, I refuse to try to look through it or past it.  The photo is ruined.  Instead, I move on.  And I believe most people react similarly.

That's my opinion.  Now here is a more rational consideration. 

The greatest value of posting images online is to get more visibility. All of the many possible venues (whether on Facebook, Crafthaus, Flickr, or your own website) help to expose your images to a larger audience.  The Internet is based on the exchange of ideas and images, yours included!  Based on the concept of the Long tail, the Internet is a fabulous opportunity to enable a widely dispersed audience to find, appreciate, and share your work.

Goof Off Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman
Goof Off/Goof Up Flower Pin
 © 2011 Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, screws.

A watermark on a photographic image discourages any blog, web site, writer, or online marketplace from copying and sharing your images. Watermarks disfigure the images. It is akin to putting the images in a virtual closet with the door shut!

 

HAND PICK  Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman
Hand Pick Flower Pin
© 2011Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, screw,

If the purpose for a watermark on your photos is to  "protect" them from being stolen or copied, then the Internet is the wrong place for your images.  This is the wrong approach to protect your work.

 

 

There are many more effective options for protecting your work:

  • Create a unique unmistakable signature style; 
  • Develop a technique that is not used by other artists or makers;
  • Pursue recognizable subject matter that establishes your reputation;
  • Pursue unique content issues;
  • Continue developing your techniques and style so that impostors are always behind you.
  • Create a strong identity for your name and your work (then impostors will be seen as just that, impostors). If a person wants to buy a Zac Posen dress, they will buy Zac Posen. If a person wants a Harriete Estel Berman, they will buy a Harriete Estel Berman. Copycats are "also rans."

Other options for protecting your work are: 

  • Post smaller images (e.g. 200px x 200px x 72dpi). This is not recommended, but it is a better alternative than a watermark on your images. 
  • Use FLASH for your images. FLASH images are more difficult to copy. This is not recommended either. Flash can not be rendered by most phones, or I-PAD type technology. Thus your web site is not viewable online by the new mobile technologies. (A future post will provide more information on this issue.)

OK you got it! Watermarks on photos are OUT!

Fantastic  Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled materials.
  Fantastic Flower Pin
  © 2011Harriete Estel Berman
  Recycled tin cans, screw,

QUALITY PHOTOS are your secret to success.~ Your photographic images can travel at the speed of light, work 24 hours a day, shrink to the size of a stamp, and expand to super viewing size.  

 

 

Another point of view on watermarks in a post titled "Should You Watermark Art You Are Posting Online" by Jason Horejs.


Related Post to the watermark issue is when museums post your images on their website, use your images for catalogs, calendars or loaning your artwork to other institutions. In theses examples they would not want a watermarked image. Read about how they handle copyright and images in the post Copyright and a Non-Exclusive License.

 

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Breaking the "Rules" with Style AND Perfection - Photos that work!

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Breaking the "Rules" with Style AND Perfection - Photos that work!

Recently, post after post on ASK Harriete has talked about the attributes of quality photographs to help artists and makers develop more effective photos to represent their work.  The "rules, standards, or conventions" are there because they reliably produce acceptably images for a wide range of situations.  Well, there are also exceptions!  I recently ran across a photograph that breaks some major rules, and it's fantastic!

The photo and artwork to the right below is from Krystal Speck.

KrystalSpeck
Work by Krystal Speck at Chicago's
One of a Kind Show

Why does this image work so well? How can this artist break such fundamental rules so successfully? The answer is that it perfectly combines both personal style and accuracy.

  • The exposure of the photograph is perfect.
  • Focus is precise,
  • Colors clear.
  • The ceramic has a slight reflection to indicate a smooth surface but it doesn't wash out the work,
  • The standard graduated background balances the applied graphics,
  • The irreverent flower drawings parallel and reinforce details within the photo,
  • Overall, a very personal style that is memorable but doesn't obscure the work.

Rickson on Crafthaus commented about this photo saying, "I love the image as it shows the whole creative process from inspiration, to drawings to finished product." The graphics are not extraneous.  They add meaning in her photos because they offer insight into the decorative elements in her work.

KrystalSpeckwebsiteNow taking a look at the website for Krystal Speck, the graphics in her photos also match the web site styling perfectly. Krystal Speck establishes an identity with each photo that she carries forward into her web site. A recurring graphic (left above) is the header for every page.  A consistent header or style on every page of a web site helps develop a clear identity within the web site.

Krystal also has the more standard photos to represent her work (right below). Again the photo quality is superb. The graphics on these ceramic items match the web site graphics. This complete approach to every detail of her work and web site defines a very high level of professionalism.    KrystalSpeck2

Yet, some conventions remain reliable.  The standard graduated background photos demonstrate that she is ready with her jury submission photos.

[The one criticism that I would raise about her web site is that there is no information about the work. Even when you click on the images, there is no descriptive text. I hope she adds this information soon.]

In the meantime, I hope this exceptional example offers insight into how breaking the photographic rules with style and perfection can really set you apart from the crowd.

Harriete

The 2011  Professional Development Seminar in Seattle with three noted photographers, and editors Marthe Le Van, Lark Books, and Suzanne Ramljak, Metalsmith Magazine discussed trends in photographing craft objects. Listen to their commentary in a series of SlideShare presentations.
Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

A white background in a photographic image has some very practical advantages. The pure white background (#000000) works very well to embed the photo across a variety of other media such as text documents, line sheets, combining images in print or creating a cohesive presentation on a web site. Here are examples in the illustrations below:

White IRREGULAR text The white background in a photo image allows text to move around the image eliminating the grid format. Using In Design or Illustrator the text can be placed around the image in an interesting format. It allows a little more creativity and interest in the layout of the page as in the example to the left from Departures Magazine.

With this idea, you can create great Artist Statements. To see an example of one of my Artist Statements with a embedded images, here is a PDF version to download.  Download Historicalteapotscoffeepots.
Historicalteapotscoffeepots_Page_1 Historicalteapotscoffeepots_Page_2

Line-Sheet-05 On a similar level, the white background allows artists and makers to create attractive line sheets with a clean professional layout. (Learn more about a line sheet in a future post, but essentially this is a list of your "line" or the production items that you sell.)

The white photographic background also provides a consistent look in groups of photos on web sites, juried applications, and on the printed page.

An example of a beautiful web site with images on white backgrounds is photographer Steven Brian Samuels.  A diverse group of works blends well into a cohesive, dramatic and up to date presentation.

51ccD8DhZXL._SL160_
Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell
Artist:
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The white background has been used very effectively in the jewelry book Adorn. If you enjoy looking through a  beautiful book, this is perhaps one of my favorites in part because of the immaculate white background layout.

AdornP151
Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell

Page 151
Artwork by Harriete Estel Berman

All of the jewelry in the book is on a white background. It makes the images (from a wide variety of makers) look incredibly cohesive. There is NO patchwork of the photographic background grid since all the backgrounds are removed.

In this book, I know all the work didn't arrive at the author or publisher with white backgrounds. Many of the images were cut from their photographic backgrounds (including mine) to create this very attractive layout.

ADORNP85
Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell

Page 85  Red Orbit Necklace (left)
by Harriete Estel Berman, (right) by
Dougehum Lee titled Draw

The amount of effort involved to cut out the images must have been really challenging. Can you imagine cutting out all those fine lines in my work?  RedID_7_600 I've included my original photo (below) just so you can see the comparison. I think they did a fabulous job on the shadows. They don't look fake.

I can see real advantages to the white background. What do you think?

Adorn136Adorn137
Adorn © 2008 by Amanda Mansell Page 136-137. Left: Kiroki Iwata, Wishes of leaves & Expression of Plants. Left Center Andrea Wagner, House with a White Picket Fence. Center Top Right:Castello Hansen, Untitled. Far Right: Lucy Sarneel, Untitled. Right Center Bottom: Lesley Strickland, Metal.


Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos::
Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

When showing a group of photos, be sure the backgrounds are consistent. Practically speaking, if the backgrounds and/or photographic style changes from photo to photo on your web site or portfolio (or even in a juried application), it does NOT look good.

Anthrocabinetcur I recently studied a variety of web sites a few weeks ago for example photos.

For this post, let's look at the Anthropologie "Cabinet of Curiosities page (shown to the left) since they have a wide range of small scale 3 dimensional items. In the first example, the photographic images have an eclectic, stylized appearance, but notice that every photo has the the same background of bleached, faded wood. The web site works to pull the photos together as a group with identical backgrounds.

Anthrolanding While the landing page for each category may be eclectic or have a stylized background, move to any other page of inventory on the Anthropologie web site and you will see that every item is photographed on the same background. While not a solid color, it has a very Anthropurse muted, soft pattern. The background does not distract from the work. Each item is isolated.  None of the photos confuse the customer with earrings hanging off of teacups, necklaces draped over plates, or pendants pinned on wrinkled fabric.

Each and every photo conforms to the general style of the web site and clearly portrays the work.  The photo portfolio creates a clear identity for the business with a consistent style.

Artists and craftspeople can learn a lot from major retailer web sites and their professional merchandising schemes.  Keep backgrounds and the style of photography consistent. Applications for shows, submissions to juried opportunities, or even the appearance of a web site or online marketing should look like one cohesive identity with clear emphasis on the work.

Cratefireplace Go to any retail web site, from Tiffany to Crate and Barrel.  While they may have initial landing pages with multiple items offering mood, "warmth" or connection with their customer, when it comes to showing the merchandise, they don't confuse the customer.

CrateRusticBotanicalScreenLLF7  

 

Each item is shown without additional mood or clutter. Clarity about what they are "selling" is a top priority.

The same principle should apply for artists and makers. Mood, "warmth" and connection with your customer should be separated from representation of the item.

I am not saying that you must adopt the retailers' style completely. What I am asking is ....... Have you separated your merchandising from the photographic representation of your work? Do your backgrounds present a cohesive body of work?

Stay tuned to see more backgrounds issues!  Are there ways to break the rules of the graduated background with style and perfection?

Harriete

anthropologie

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!


Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

JEWELRYeclecticBackgrounds with additional items or content are said by advocates to be more interesting, offering mood, style, warmth or appeal to the viewer and potential customers. In the photo to the right, the jewelry is displayed on a marble table with a jar, shell dish, and other objects all in a warm brown color group. The photo was scanned from a recent Departures magazine.

As a photograph it is very well done. The exposure is balanced with no strong highlights or dark shadows obscuring the work. Focus at all levels and distances throughout the focal plain is perfect. The circular arc of the table is a very effective device for framing the work.  So, is this a good photo to represent the work?  Does the viewer know where to focus attention?  Is this photo appropriate for all situations?  

BluePearls This is a really important aspect to consider.  A number of artists and makers are showing their work with similarly styled backgrounds and groupings.  This may draw a particular audience in a particular scenario, but is it an effective representation of the work?

Photos like these are an editorial style. They can be used effectively in certain situations. 
JEWELRYgridThe style of these photos adds information that shifts the viewer's evaluation of the work.  The image in its entirety establishes a narrative that may detract from or obfuscate the work. The photo now demonstrates the creativity of the stylist and the photographer as much or more than the work of the maker.

Hotbutton If you submitted any one of these photos to a jury for a book or retail craft show (as just two examples), the risk of REJECTION is significantly elevated. The photos are not a clear and accurate representation of your work.

A juror wants to see the art or craft clearly without editorial or extraneous styling.  A photo for a jury evaluation should fill the frame without complex backgrounds, marble texture, waterwashed stones, grids, any other distraction.

Jurors typically must make snap decisions.  Don't give them any superficial reason to pass you over.  There is just too much competition.

What do you think?  Do you take photos like this? What is your intent? Are complex photo backgrounds effective merchandizing? Do they accurately represent the work? Are you consciously selecting your backgrounds to reach different audiences?

Harriete   

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:
Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....including images on your web site, and "breaking all the rules with style and perfection." 


Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Over the last few weeks we have discussed art and craft photography and some of the tried and tested variables. The current arguments consider the impact of the "standard" graduated background or going for a bolder statement in the photograph with non-standard backgrounds.

PurplePURPLEbackground Today's post discusses backgrounds with texture or pattern. To avoid offending any particular artist or maker by selecting their photo for critique, I searched for example images of colored backgrounds with texture and pattern in high end magazines.

This purple background with a contrasting reflection of "leatherette texture" came from a recent Departures magazine. Obviously the photographer and jewelry manufacturer thought this was a great photo that effectively showcases the pendant.

The photo is excellent. The pendant is properly exposed without strong highlights to wash out the color. There is just a hint of glimmer to let you know the enamel and metal is shiny and smooth. A little darkness below the pendant gives it a strong foundation. It does not float but clearly lays on the fabric.

Now consider the purple colored background with a textured appearance. This textured background is no different than using felt, wrinkled fabric, stones, leaves, or wood. The background is something the photographer choose carefully to complement the pendant. But will the viewing audience like or dislike it?

The background material certainly adds a significant element to the photo.  The viewer is driven to consider the background in addition to the the work. Is it a distraction? Is this a fabulous photo,  or too much personality detracting from the work?  When your photos include a patterned or textured background, will people judge your background before the work when they have 2 seconds to look at the image?

Redclutter background The next photo uses a brilliant red background with a thematic element that echos the diamond pendant. In this case, it is a Cartier flower pendent with similar flowers in the red background. The general parallel would be photo backgrounds consisting of water scenes, moss, stones, grainy wood, or leaves -- any background that adds information. Is this added information an enhancement or a distraction? You may like it, others may not.  Regardless, the background is now part of the like or dislike assessment.

A thematic background may be well done, but is it appropriate to art and craft photography. Step back and ask yourself: Is the background essential to the presentation of the work AND TO AUDIENCE?   What is this photo going to look like during a juried review or on a web site with 20 other photos?  

Examine the red photo more carefully.  One may wonder what an expensive diamond pendant has to do with tropical orchids besides the form.  As a marketing device, perhaps it is trying to sell a lifestyle in which the work is promoted as a signature accessory.  Or like car commercials that show us the lifestyle of "wind in the hair" or driving fast like a "professional driver on a closed course."  "Do not attempt at home."  Maybe the lifestyle sells better than the work. The addition of the word and brand name Cartier to the photo is a "marketing device" that I think artists and makers should avoid. 

 Artists and makers have been trying all varieties of colors, patterns and textures to add warmth, style, or other desirable dimensions to their photos.  In whatever form, it adds information to the photo.  Is it a distraction? What message does the background say about the work?  Does the background help sell the work? Will your background be judged instead of the work? Does a background pigeonhole your work into a specific context? Is that where you want to be?


Does the background become overly dramatic, maybe even looking more like a  fashion magazine ad than a serious piece of art jewelry? Is there a prejudice toward colored backgrounds because the colored background is not serious enough? Is the colored background colorful or disconnected to the more serious conceptual content behind this art jewelry?

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?


The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....


Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Andychix.3 In this extended series of side by side photo comparisons we have discussed the white and the graduated background. The black background is the polar opposite of the white background. Just to clarify here, I am referring to the digital #000000 black, or total black. It has many of the same problems as white, few benefits and is even more problematic for capturing a great image of art and craft.

There are some makers who regularly photograph their work on a solid black background holding the opinion that the black background highlights light colored or silver work.

Andychix.tender_man.adj
Chicken Ring  ©2009 Andy Cooperman
This photo is not a solid black back-
ground, but uses the reflection not
give the work a foundation.
Photo Credit: Andy Cooperman

On solid black backgrounds, the work may be lost, or fade into the background. The dark edge of the work becomes hard  to see, if not impossible. Capturing the edge with precise lighting is essential.  Another problem, especially if the work is silver, is that the reflections in the work are dark or black.  Thus the photo ends up extremely dark overall.  

This issue is more acute on the Internet
where the images are often smaller and with less information. The dark or black background all too often loses the nuance of the printed images and becomes a dark hole. The artwork ends up looking like it is being sucked into the background.

B&wID_72
Black and White Identity Necklace
© 2006 Harriete Estel Berman
Post Consumer recycled tin cans,
vintage plastic, polymer, electrical cord,
magnetic catch.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

If you want a dark background, there are two options that may help. The graduated dark background. or black with reflections/shadows under the work (left images).  With proper lighting you can still get light on the work with shadows/reflections to give a solid footing to the work.  Assuming the work is properly lit, the image will look much better.

Side by Side Comparison (cropped for exact comparison of two photos.) NOTE: I noticed in Photoshop that the right photo with reflection is a little lighter/brighter in some areas, yet, the handle is a little too dark. This is the way I received it from the artist so I didn't change this exposure. (The post continues below...)

Andychix.2b Andychix.tender_man.2a

MAD websiteThe black to very dark background is sometimes considered neutral, arty, or sophisticated. The Museum of Art and Design has a large portion of their collection photographed on black (as in the image to the left). The images are then placed on a black web site background. The edge of the black background photo disappears into the background of the site. Unfortunately, it makes the entire site seem rather dark and dreary.

Harriete Estel Berman's bracelet on the MAD web site. Some of the work on the Museum of Art and Design web site is photographed on the solid dark gray background.  This isn't much of an improvement.  I know because of an image of my bracelet (above right). For some reason the photograph of the work is dark and muddy.

YelRUFFLEASKHBLYelRUFFLEASKHNEUTRALYelRUFFLEASKHwhi
I created all the images above in Photoshop transitioning the background from solid black #000000 to solid white #FFFFFF. While the center photo is not the traditional graduated background, it is considerably softer in appearance that either absolute white or black.

Any opinions about your preference?

What do you think? Do you have a comment or insight to add to this discussion? If you don't agree with me, please share with me your SOLID BLACK background images along with a comparable shot in a graduated or lighter background. I'd love to compare the images side by side.

Additional discussion about the black background can be heard in a lecture by three photographers during the 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar titled "Photography in Flux". Scroll down for the lecture Photography in Flux (Photographers Opinions).

Scroll down further on the PDS page for the Podcast of the lunch discussion. Really interesting discussion.

Next post is about colored backgrounds.

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

 41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_As we reflect on the past, present and future of craft, I recommend the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. This is practically required reading if you're wondering what is the current direction and the economic picture of craft. In particular, the comments about the economy of craft over the past 150 years are insightful. This tome is not easy reading....nor something to balance on the treadmill. Carrying the book is more like a weightlifting activity, so pace yourself for months of interesting insight.

This link to the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft is an affiliate link. Purchasing this book may provide this blog with a few pennies.


Side by Side Photos - The Graduated Background: Stunning or Stupefying?

Test5Meyers by Doug Yaple with a graduated background The graduated background has been around for quite a while as a standard professional quality photograph for three dimensional work (over the past 30 years).  At one time, the graduated background was the demarcation of the professional photographer since the appearance was only possible through careful lighting. This is no longer the case as paper printed with a graduated appearance has made the graduated background within the grasp of less experienced photographers.

Test 3 Andy Cooperman ring with graduated background and clear shadown by Doug Yaple The graduated background can be light to dark, or rotated, dark to light.   With careful lighting of the artwork, it is relatively easy to create a light shadow so that the work is firmly grounded. With careful placement on a graduated background, the work stands out from the background, avoiding the problems of totally white or black backgrounds (where the work sometimes dissolves into the background). The graduated background can be manipulated effectively to give 3-dimensional work a solid foundation highlighting the work.

At this point the graduated light to dark background has become an industry standard for art/craft  photography. Looking through recently published books and magazines reveals graduated backgrounds in all its variations, page after page. This can be both good and bad.

The good side is that the graduated background is considered neutral, easily assigned to the background and ignored adding little or no commentary to the artwork. We have become accustomed to its appearance and for this reason it is perceived of as "neutral."

The opposite point of view is that the graduated gray background may be considered boring, old-school, or even out of date by some groups. This seems to be especially true for the D.I.Y. community that appears to prefer projecting a new identity outside of the mainstream. Rejecting the orthodox or standard graduated background for colored or eclectic backgrounds is an attempt to give the photographs energy and pizazz.  

Scansquares
   Scan from the book Manufractured
  (Clockwise from top left) Kathryn Spence
   Paper Towels 2003; Sonya Clark
   Twenty-One 1998; Laura Splan Prozac,
    Thorazine, Zoloft 2003; William Sistek
    Bubbleware #1 2007
  

Groups of photographs with graduated backgrounds are another issue.  Good or bad, the delineated square or rectangle of the photos create a grid of images (see image to the right). If the backgrounds are not identical, the grid appearance may looked mismatched. 

Scan3background from American Craft Magazine.
Page from recent American Craft
Magazine, Page 060 Dec/Jan 11
Images of clay and fiber work by
Hannie Goldewicht
Photo Credit: Douglas Kirkland

Scancutout
Page 99 from the book Manufractured
All images cut out from the graduated
background of their photos by the graphic
designer Gregory Hom of fishbowl design.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

 

 

 

The graduated background also looks much better when all images have a similar background. In the image to the left, the works look like a cohesive body of work by one artist. A definite plus! You don't want the background of your photos to compete with the artwork or look like a crayola box of colors. 

 

 

A downside to the graduated background is that much more editing skill and time may be required to remove the background from the photo to isolate just the object on the page (right.)

 

 

 

 

An important factor that may dictate use of a graduated background for photos is the background color of your web site. I've noticed that graduated backgrounds look better on web sites with darker colored backgrounds. The photo backgrounds appear to complement the style of the page.

We still have more to discuss about  photographic backgrounds. What about the black background favored by many? Does it make your work "pop", or is it a black hole that sucks in light? The issues about photographic backgrounds are varied and complex.  But I hope to raise awareness of what works well and what detracts from your artwork.

Stay tuned for the next post.
Harriete

 
Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

Example photos in the series  Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos are repeated below for easy reference.

Image 1 a.                         Image1 b. 
SleeperhoneyDougSleeperhoneystevieb
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 2009  Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven Brian Samuels.
 

Image 2 a.                             Image 2 b. 
Doug.podaskharrieteStevieBaskHpod
 The brooch in the above photos is “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven  Brian Samuels.

Image 3 a.                         Image 3 b.  
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887
Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall  Sterling silver, silk ribbon. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 4 a.                          Image 4 b. 
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 5 a.                         Image 5 b. 
Test5MeyersTest6Meyers
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers.©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 6 a.                           
Image 6 b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octangonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image) Photo Credit: Philip Cohen. 
Oreo "Unlock the Magic" © 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image) Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels.

  
Image 7 a.                         Image 7 b. 
oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN BEADSnCOHEN

Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #2 (left image) by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven  Brian Samuels.
Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #1 (right image)by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

 Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Metalsmith_YellowBkgrdnotitleSmallPieces
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images) Photo Credit for both images: Philip Cohen.

 PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW. Click on their names to go to their web site.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]lmi.net

Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693
email: steven [at] stevenbriansamuels.com

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.
email: dyaple [at] comcast.net 

 


Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Sleeperhoneystevieb The white background in the photographic image is the "new" look. When discussing a white background, we are talking about pure white...absolute white....#FFFFFF in HTML or Photoshop. You can see this in the left photo and below in photos 1b., 2b., and 6b.

We are NOT talking about a graduated white, with foamcore "white," or "almost" white as shown (to the right below and below in 3b and 4a). Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867

White photographic backgrounds are a stylistic influence from Europe and facilitated by the availability of photo editing technology like Photoshop and FotoFuze. (If you haven't looked at a FotoFuze online demo, you should!)

The super white photographic background with the "fake" shadow starts with pure white photographic background  during the photo shoot but is facilitated with photo editing software. It is almost impossible to get a pure white any other way. The tool, i.e. the technology, has become a style.  

One advantage of the white background is that it is really easy to remove the art or craft object from the background for print. Thus the layout for postcards, books or magazines can depart from a grid format with a smaller investment of time or skill.

Another factor is that white is the default background for many social networking sites like Facebook (the largest photo sharing site on the Internet), Flickr, Etsy, and other online marketplaces.  They make the photos look attractive. There is little or no demarcation between the edge of the photo and the site.  White background images generally look good to great on these sites.

In contrast, white background shots do not look so good on web sites with dark backgrounds.  My web site is a spectrum of greenish, grey backgrounds. I consciously did not want a white background web site.  And I must admit that pure white background photos do NOT look that great on my web site.  See examples of three types of backgrounds - with a graduated, light, and white photographic backgrounds on this page. 

SleeperhoneysteviebOn the negative side,  I don't think white backgrounds show all work to the best advantage.  Some work just doesn't look that great on pure white with high contrast between the work and background.

For example, the dark wood in Andy Cooperman's jewelry (left) doesn't look as attractive on a stark white background. The grain of the wood becoming a focal point demanding more attention than desired by the maker. (See photos 1b. and 2b. below.)

A major concern with white background shots is that the shadows and reflections on the background look fake.  Some people who like the white background also like the artificial shadow. This "artificial" appearance is part of the new and trendy style.

oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN White backgrounds can also make the work look like it is floating thus the necessity of the shadow to prevent the white or light area of the work from being lost or melting into the background (such as in the photo to the right and 7a. below). Notice that the white cord of the necklace gets lost in the background. 

What do you think about white background shots?

Photos pertinent to this discussion are shown below.

Harriete

Image 1 a.                         Image1 b. 
SleeperhoneyDougSleeperhoneystevieb
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 2009  Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven Brian Samuels.
 

Image 2 a.                             Image 2 b. 
Doug.podaskharrieteStevieBaskHpod
The brooch in the above photos is “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven  Brian Samuels.

Image 3 a.                         Image 3 b.  
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887
Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall  Sterling silver, silk ribbon. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 4 a.                          Image 4 b. 
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 5 a.                         Image 5 b. 
Test5MeyersTest6Meyers
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers.©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 6 a.                            Image 6 b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octangonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image) Photo Credit: Philip Cohen. 
Oreo "Unlock the Magic" © 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image) Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels.

Image 7 a.                         Image 7 b.
oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN BEADSnCOHEN

Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #2 (left image) by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven  Brian Samuels.
Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #1 (right image)by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

This is another post, is the series titled:
Photographic Comparisons Side by Side

Previous posts include:

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW. Click on their names to go to their web site.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]lmi.net

Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693
email: steven [at] stevenbriansamuels.com

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.
email: dyaple [at] comcast.net 

 


Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images? Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos

Patc hwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time by Harriete Estel Berman
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces
of Time

©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman
vintage steel doll houses
Dark background example
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

The previous post, The Photographers Revealed! Photograph Comparisons Side by Side showcased a series of images as a comparison of different back- grounds.  ASK Harriete will evaluate these comparisons from several directions.  Two consensus opinions have already stood out: first, one type of background is not effective in every situation, and second, YES, you are being judged by the style of the photographic images!

Cover of 1990 Summer issue of Metalsmith Magazine with a yellow photographic background.
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces
of Time

©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman

vintage steel doll houses
1990 Cover photo for Metalsmith Mag.
Photo Credit:
Philip Cohen.

Image backgrounds are becoming a stylistic issue (or "trend", if you want to call it that).  In fact, the choice of backgrounds for a photographic image may even be placing your work into a "category" of the art or craft world.  This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think there is ample evidence.

Octagonal Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled tin cans.
Octagonal Bracelet
Harriete Estel Berman © 2001
Recycled tin cans
Graduated background with reflection
Photo Credit:
Philip Cohen. 



 


Multiple observations were formed
while I was studying  the previous post , comments by readers, and in discussion with Brigitte Martin and Andy Cooperman (as we prepare the
Professional Development Seminar).   Now there are too many remarks for one post.

Oreo Cookie Unlock the Magic bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled tin cans.
Oreo "Unlock the Magic
 ©1989 Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, 10k gold,brass
Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels

 

 

My plan is to discuss the pros and cons for each type of background:

- White
- Graduated
- Black
- Colored

Each photographic background will be discussed, one per post, over the next four posts.  If you have a comment, write your comments below or email  me directly as the posts continue.  

Harriete

This is the third post, is the series titled:
Photographic Comparisons Side by Side

Previous posts include: The Photographers Revealed.

  


The photographers are revealed! Photograph comparisons side by side

Today's post reveals the photographers in side by side comparisons of photos of identical content with different backgrounds.

Here are some issues to consider:

Does one background really fit all work?

Does the color of the background contribute to the emotion or vocabulary of the work?

Does one background work for all situations such as online marketplaces, social networking, jury review for shows, books and magazines? What about your web site?

In a side by side comparison of two images by two different photographers, how much original content does the photographer add? Are we seeing creativity from the photographer or skill? Who do you think owns the copyright of the image?

What about the reflection of the work? The shadow? Do these add a foundation for the work? Or are they a distraction?

Are we becoming influenced by what can be done in PhotoShop?  Has PhotoShop as a tool, become a style?

What other issues come to your mind when you look at these images? You're welcome to comment about the photos so that your opinion can be included in the future posts.

On Thursday's post, comments and discussion will begin on the topic.

Disclaimer: The images in this post may have been cropped or re-sized in an attempt to make the objects in the photos a similar size for side by side comparison.  The merit or demerit for leaving more or less background space around the object will be discussed in another post as a separate issue.

Image 1 a.                         Image1 b. 
SleeperhoneyDougSleeperhoneystevieb
The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 200 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven Brian Samuels.
 

Image 2 a.                             Image 2 b. 
Doug.podaskharrieteStevieBaskHpod
The brooch in the above photos is “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven  Brian Samuels.

Image 3 a.                         Image 3 b.  
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887
Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall  Sterling silver, silk ribbon. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 4 a.                          Image 4 b. 
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


Image 5 a.                         Image 5 b. 
Test5MeyersTest6Meyers
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers.©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral. Both photos by Doug Yaple.


The next photos compare similar items on different backgrounds.
Image 6 a.                           
Image 6 b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octangonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image)
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen. 
Oreo "Unlock the Magic" © 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image) Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels.

In the images below, the two necklaces are not the same but very similar.  "Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace 1 and 2" © by Harriete Estel Berman .  I did my best to make the images the same size, but obviously, the photographers chose different angles for capturing this necklace. Which approach do you like better? Does the shadow or reflection work more effectively?
Image 7 a.                         Image 7 b.
oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN BEADSnCOHEN

Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #2 (left image) by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven  Brian Samuels.
Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #1 (right image)by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

As a result of a comment following the previous post about the use of "colored backgrounds" in photographic images, I have added the images below. The photos below are predigital.Yes, the left photo was actually photographed on a yellow background.

Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Metalsmith_YellowBkgrdnotitleSmallPieces
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images) Photo Credit for both images: Philip Cohen.

In the third post in this series on Thursday,  I will discuss the difference in backgrounds, angles, lighting. Does the color of the background contribute to the emotion or vocabulary of the work?

The world of photography is changing rapidly.  Is your photography up to date? Is it an effective tool?
 
• Are you being judged by the style of your images?
• How much post production is acceptable and who should do the work?
• Current trends in background and composition.
• The model or the pedestal?
• and much more……

These issues and more will be discussed at the Professional Development Seminar titled, Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.

DATE:           May 28, 2011
TIME:         9:00 AM to 12:00 noon
                 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion)
LOCATION: The Westin Hotel,
                 1900 5th Ave,
                 Seattle, WA.

Free with SNAG Conference registration or $40 at the door (for the PDS only).

More information can be found on the SNAG web site.

PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW. Click on their names to go to their web site.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]lmi.net

Steven  Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693
email: steven [at] stevenbriansamuels.com

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.
email: dyaple [at] comcast.net 

 


Compare and contrast photography styles. Be the judge and jury.

The issues surrounding professional photographic images has become increasingly more complex and diverse in recent years. From the accelerating evolution of digital images to the ethics of image manipulation, the world of photography is changing rapidly. 

In the last few months, I have been discussing these issues extensively with Andy Cooperman and Brigitte Martin as we plan the Professional Development Seminar.

In the spirit of exploration and experimentation, this post will compare examples of jewelry on white and graduated grey-to-dark backgrounds. The photographs are side by side. Some pairs of images are by the same photographer. Other pairs are by two different photographers.

I will show you the images without commentary or photo credit to avoid any bias in your evaluation of the images.  Please add your comments below.

In the next post (on Tuesday) the photographers will be revealed along with questions for further consideration.  

On Thursday's post one week from today, commentary on the images  will be discussed. You're welcome to comment about the photos for a whole week so that your opinion can be included in the final post.

Disclaimer: The images in this post may have been cropped or re-sized in an attempt to make the objects in the photos a similar size for side by side comparison.  The merit or demerit of leaving more background space around the object will be discussed in another post as a separate issue.

Here is the first pair:

Image 1a.                        Image 1b.
SleeperhoneyDougSleeperhoneystevieb
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 200 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain.
 

Image 2a.                        Image 2b.
Doug.podaskharrieteStevieBaskHpod
 Brooch in the above photos is  “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain.

Image 3a.                        Image 3b.
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall Sterling silver, silk ribbon

Image 4a.                        Image 4b.
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber


Image 5a.                        Image 5b.
Test5MyersTest6Myers
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers ©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral.


The next photos compare similar but not identical jewelry on different backgrounds.

Image 6a.                                Image 6b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octagonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image)
Oreo "Unlock the Magic
© 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image)

In the images below, this is not the same but very similar necklace "Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace" © by Harriete Estel Berman .  I did my best to make the images the same size, but obviously, each of the photographers chose different angles for capturing this necklace. Which approach do you like better?

Image 7a.                        Image 7b.
oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN BEADSnCOHEN

As a result of a comment about the use of "colored backgrounds" in photographic images I have added the images below. 

Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Metalsmith_YellowBkgrdnotitleSmallPieces
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images)

In the next post, Tuesday (next week), I will reveal the photographers' names for the images (along with links to their web sites).

In the third post in this series on Thursday, I will discuss comments from the readers including the differences in backgrounds, angles, and lighting. There are many issues potentially to consider in these comparisons.

These issues and more will be discussed at the Professional Development Seminar titled: Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.

DATE:           May 28, 2011
TIME:         9:00 to 12:00
                 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion)
LOCATION: The Westin Hotel,
                 1900 5th Ave,
                 Seattle, WA.

Free with Conference registration or $40 at the door (for the PDS only).

More information can be found on the SNAG web site.

Harriete

 


Who Owns the Photographic Image?

The most recent posts have discussed some really serious issues surrounding the use of photographic images. The answers are not easily found.

To foster greater understanding, the theme of the upcoming Professional Development Seminar will be, Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.  Organized by Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and myself,  We have spent hours discussing a range of current issues surrounding photographic images.

Here is another one of the serious questions we've been discussing:

ChocolateQuestion200 Who Owns the Photographic Image?

Let's assume that the artist made the artwork and owns the copyright to the artwork. Then a photographer is hired by the artist to photograph the artwork.

Who owns the copyright to the photographic images?

The answer isn't as simple as it first appears.  Is it the artist who hired the photographer?  Or is it always the photographer?

When an image is to be printed in a book, whose permission is required? The artist, the photographer, or both? Can a permanent agreement between the artist and photographer allow unrestricted use by either party? What if the image is altered?

What if your artwork is photographed by a photographer hired by a museum or exhibition? Who owns the copyright to that photo then? The artist, the photographer, or the musuem/exhibition sponsor?

These are just two examples. I am really confused.  I want an answer, a real answer, not just my opinion. Does anyone really know? 

BermanObverse_front
Obverse Obsession © 2005
Post Consumer recycled tin cans,
aluminum, sterling silver, 10k gold
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

In the spirit of cooperation, we all benefit from the publication of images. The artist benefits by sharing their work with a larger audience. The photographer recieves visibility and recognition for the quality of the photogrpahic image (and possibly potential business photographing more work). The art/craft world benefits from the exhange of images and ideas. But who owns the photographic image?

If you have a clear answer please leave a comment.

Do you have a source for your information?

Hopefully, there are practical solutions, but what is the correct answer? We hope to have a solution at the Professional Development Seminar on May 28th, 2011.

Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.

DATE:           May 28, 2010
TIME:         9:00 to 12:00
                 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion)
LOCATION: The Westin Hotel,
                 1900 5th Ave,
                 Seattle, WA.

Free with Conference registration or $40. at the door.

More information can be found on the SNAG web site.

 Harriete


Business Advice on the Internet

These days there is so much advice on the Internet, I mean tons....some good, and some that seems a little ,,,well....shallow, self-serving, or half-baked.  Penetrating through this fog, there is one person who I recommend, Alyson Stanfield. I have followed her for years. Her professional experience at the museum level is well grounded, yet her very down to earth approach helps artists get their work out of the studio to develop promotional visibility and a market for their work.

STUDIObook I read her book, "I'd Rather Be in the Studio" which reveals practical ways to market your art or craft more effectively.  It is definitely worth reading.

Alyson Stanfield also has a free newsletter. This week she is offering a gift for the subscribers to her newsletter. The gift is some GREAT information about using SlideShare to promote your art and craft. (I know what it says because I wrote it!)

A super short summary on how to get started on SlideShare is included on Alyson Stanfield's ARTBIZblog. The SlideShare site is FREE at the basic level. This is a truly easy, inexpensive, and effective tool.  There is so much you can do with it.  As examples, links to two of my SlideShare presentations are itemized below (the links paste right into my blog or an email). I also use them in several locations on my web site.

Why not subscribe to Alyson Stanfield's free newsletter to receive tips for your art career development.  I read it regularly to perk up my outlook.  

If you sign up now, new subscribers get the step-by-step instructions (that I wrote) to make your first SlideShare presentation.

Harriete

Here are two links to my presentations from SlideShare.  The first one is about my chocolate pot, Obverse Obsession.  The second one is a presentation from the Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG Conference in Houston.

Affiliate links on this blog may provide me with a few pennies to help defray expense and keep on going. Thanks for your support.
VanHouten72
Van Houten Cocao Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from post consumer recycled tin cans. Retail Price is Pin $485. See a preview of the Flower Brooch collection on Flickr.
  


Pricing Your Work - Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog About Pricing Your Work

Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog About Pricing Your Work was the featured program at the 2010 Professional Development Seminar held at the SNAG Conference in Houston.

The PowerPoint Presentations by our speakers and the Question and Answer Discussion with the audience were recorded.PDS Pricing IMAGE The first half hour of the audio recordings was combined with the SlideShare Presentation so you can experience the same PowerPoint presentations that our audience saw in Houston. 

This was the Professional Development Seminar’s inaugural attempt to record the program and share this valuable information with a larger audience. 

In the following posts, I will discuss some of the issues raised during the discussion to offer further information and clarification.

BELOW IS THE LIST OF SPEAKERS for the PowerPoint SlideShare presentation of Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog About Pricing Your Work. They are listed in the order of their presentations. Click on their name to go to their website for further information:

QUESTION AND ANSWER DISCUSSION for Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog About Pricing Your Work was recorded as a podcast. The program with our speakers and the audience was moderated by Andy Cooperman, Don Friedlich and myself, Harriete Estel Berman.

 

Nolo Press Book Hiring Your First Employee: A Step-by-step GuideThere are also two blog posts about hiring employees on ASK Harriete listed below:

Harriete

 


Adventures in Podcasting.

One of my goals over the quiet of the holidays was to teach myself how to podcast and add this podcast to my PowerPoint lectures on Slide Share. Hopefully, with this experience, I can learn to record presentations for the Professional Development Seminar (Download HoustonflyervL12.29.09) and other professional lessons for you.

Obvob_kiss-copy72
Chocolate Obsession© 2005
Recycled tin cans, sterling silver,
plastic, aluminum foil, brass.
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

At this point, I can't get my Slide Share presentation to work with Typepad, but you can find all my Slide Share presentations here  or look at the bottom of this post for specific links.

If you aren't familiar with Slide  Share this is free Internet site where you can upload your PowerPoint presentations. I found it about two years ago. Uploading the presentation is a breeze...but the software doesn't keep your animations and fancy slide transitions, so keep your presentations in PowerPoint simple and straightforward. Anyone can do this. You can also upload Keynote if you have an Apple.

The next step, ADD A Podcast.  Learning how to Podcast was pretty simple. The free software called Audacity works just fine. It has more features than I even used so far. The only issue is that it is time consuming to get the voice perfected. Practice and practice, and practice. I am starting to catch on to this recording thing and be comfortable listening to my voice.  

Uploading your Podcast and synchronizing it to the images is very easy....again, it is just time consuming to get it perfect.

The problem: I always see my mistakes in either the images, or text after I upload the Podcast and sync the whole thing to the images. Aw..........shucks!!!!!

Well, I'm learning to podcast . . . and now sharing my new Slide Share presentations with you. You be the judge.  Let me know what you think and how to improve the next time.

So far, I have five short presentations with audio completed and would like to hear for your feedback before venturing deeper.

BermanObverse_front
Obverse Obsession © 2005
Chocolate Pot constructed from post
consumer recycled tin cans, sterling
silver, plastic, aluminum foil, brass.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
 

Pecha Kucha

Obverse Obsession Chocolate Pot

California Dream Teapot

Professional Guidelines Introduction

Professional Guidelines; Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance

Thanks for listening.

Harriete

If you want to learn more about Slide Share and Podcasting let me know.

 


Looking Forward to the New Year

Champagne_bottle_GR Looking forward to the New Year, I thought a quick post about upcoming events and topics in the coming year would be appropriate.

Upcoming soon...a sample Cease and Desist letter for anyone to use when someone copies your work.  More information will be appearing in my Opinion article for Metalsmith Magazine soon.

Podcasts about my work.  I am learning how to create podcasts and how to put short lectures online with audio.  I am really excited about learning this new skill which is remarkably easy with free software.  You can listen to my first two experiments at the following two links. I'd love to hear your feedback about this new professional resource experiment.

CLICK HERE for a presentation about my chocolate pot Obverse Obsession.

 CLICK HERE to listen to my first Pecha Kucha (6 minutes, 20 images, 20 seconds per image) 

BermanCAdream_front2
California Dream © 2005
Recycled tin cans, Pentium chip
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

An exhibition of my artwork is coming this February at the Loveland Museum, Colorado.  Forty (40) boxes were shipped to the the museum a few days ago. (Can you imagine how much work it was just to pack up this much work? A peanuts blizzard and cardboard box marathon!) If you live in the Colorado area, I hope you can come to my lecture and the opening on Friday, February 12. I will be giving a lecture at 5:00 p.m. and the opening starts immediately after at 6:00 p.m. On Saturday, February 13th, there will be a lecture by Liz Quisgard followed by a panel discussion with all the artists. 

The Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG Conference in Houston will be offering three hours of programming followed by a lunch discussion. This is open to the public. If you are not planning to attend the entire SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) Conference March 10 - 13, 2010, you can pay for just this PDS seminar. (Download HoustonflyervL12.29.09) The first presentation is by Bruce Baker speaking about "The Art of Selling" . The morning continues with "Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog about Pricing Your Work" with Marlene Ritchey, Guido Schindler, Jennifer Trask, Kiwon Wang, and Francesca Vitali. This will continue with an informal discussion during lunch.  While the SNAG Conference is generally focused around jewelry, metal arts and design, this information will be applicable to a wide range of media AND the speakers represent a wide spectrum of viewpoints.

Also at the SNAG Conference I am working on a new program titled, "A Smaller Conference Experience".  Everyone is invited to a more relaxed setting for individual introductions and conversation before the pin swap on Wednesday night, and an informal lunch discussion on Thursday with the Keynote Speaker Caroline Broadhead and the Thursday morning speaker Beverly Penn. Bring your own lunch, grab a chair and join our conversation. Space is limited to 75 people. Please come and say your name, "hello", and tell us what kind of work you do.

Portfolio Reviews at the conference. If your are interested in a short conversation offering insight about your work and discussion about reaching your professional goals with gallery owners, curators, or experienced artists, then stay tuned for the opportunity to grab a portfolio review slot.

RecycledFULL72
Recycle © 1999
The California Collection
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, wood, milk bottles,
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

This year begins for me with an intense focus on finishing artwork that has been "in progress" for quite a while.  Finally, I am completing a whole group of work that has taken me more than two years.  To the left is one piece in the series.

Stay tuned to my web site, Facebook and Flickr where new images will be published in the coming weeks and months. If you aren't already my friend on Facebook, this is a great way to stay in touch.

Looking forward to the New Year and all it holds for our professional development.

I write this blog for my readers. Let me know what you want to hear and learn in the coming year.

Best Wishes for the New Year,

Harriete


Why go to Conferences? Are they worth it?

MapQuest72grbk
A question from an artist and reader, 

"While reading the ACC Conference lecture reviews, I was wondering how the conference is affecting you as an artist?" 

Good question! I'll bet other people are wondering too! Similar questions arose from a few other readers wondering if it was worth the expense (conference fee, airfare, hotel) to go.  [I don't include food because most of the time I don't eat at restaurants but instead find a grocery store for fruit and yogurt. A latte is my conference treat!]

The answer is a considered "yes, yes, yes." These conferences are an investment in my professional development and definitely worth attending (as long as it isn't adding debt to the credit card).  Beyond the expenses, I don't give up time in my studio lightly.  I also miss my exercise classes and come home to a mountain of mail and "things to do" just like everyone else. This always delays my return to the studio for more days.

Ted_logo WHAT DO I GET OUT OF A CONFERENCE?
Three things mostly, meeting new people, listening to thought provoking lectures, and seeing work that surprises and inspires.  While none of these things are automatic or guaranteed to happen, it is dropping myself into the unexpected and being open to new ideas. To borrow the words from the TED Conference web site: "Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot view, where we see, to our astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole." (If you aren't familiar with the TED Conference lectures, I recommend them highly.)

HARRIETErobWALKER72 Meeting new people is the most refreshing and positive aspect of every conference.  Even though I am a little fearful of or somewhat dislike having people pierce my personal space bubble, I force myself to make an effort to sit next to a stranger.... or ask someone to sit next to me at lunch that I barely know, or talk to a new person on the bus or at the show.  I have to repeat this gutsy effort over and over. However, even one such meeting may make the entire conference worthwhile.  You never know if this person is looking for just your kind of work, planning a show, or following a similar path.

365205530_6a5dcf2d2a
Pattern Pillow #2 © 2004
copper, oil paint
18" x 18" x 5"
Artist: Megan Auman

For example, a couple years ago, Megan Auman approached me requesting that she speak about Web 2.0 for the Professional Development Seminar (Savannah FLYER 2008) at a SNAG Conference. I was mystified about why I or any other artist should even consider participating in 2.0 sites like Facebook or Etsy (or a blog for that matter), when I already had a web site.  Well, we (Don Friedlich, Andy Cooperman and I) listened to her ideas and decided to include her program about 2.0 for the PDS.  After the SNAG Conference (March 2008), I came right home to join Etsy, Flickr, Facebook and to start my blog all in about two weeks! She and others opened my eyes about all that was happening, will be happening, and could be happening on the Internet.

IMG_4176
Natalie "Alabama" Chanin
Speaking during the ACC Conference

Exposure to new information is my second reason to go to conferences. Lectures are always a gamble.  Much of a lecture may be the "same old, same old", but if you listen, you will likely realize after six months or a year that a kernel or nugget might inspire a new way of thinking.  At a SNAG Conference organized by Gary Griffin many years ago, he included a lecture on "tin men." This lecture opened up a whole new world of ideas for me that has inspired 21 years of work. All from that one lecture.

The recent 2009 American Craft Council Conference was intense and provided a broad spectrum of information. I learned from speakers I'd never known before, about books they have written, references to movies, blog sites, and tons of other resources. It might take me months or a year to follow through, buy the books or get them from my local library. Since Heath Ceramics is not all that far away from where I live, it is definitely on my "to do" list. Rob Walker and I met in person for the first time after over a year of correspondence. It only intensified my interest in his writing both in the New York Times Magazine and his blog.

Harriete_working_tins2.100
Harriete working in the studio
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

How this will all blend into my work is another story. My work is very labor intensive.  It will take at least a year or more to finish my current projects, and another year or more to work on upcoming planned projects.  So, two years from now, maybe something from the Conference will inspire new work. Who knows, maybe a person that I met might want to show my work. All of these things are like a slow cooking stew, you need to add the right spices and let it simmer. 

The third reason that I go to Conferences, seeing new work, doesn't happen the same way every time. At the SNAG Conferences, there are multiple exhibitions specifically for the conference.  Many times going to a Conference is the first time I visit a city, and realize that I want to go back as a family vacation to explore. 

So as you can see, going to conferences (no more than once or twice a year to stay within my budget), whether local or far away, is one very effective way to expand my thinking, move out of my treasured daily routine, and discover surprises.   The uncertainties always seem a bit intimidating, but my reflection after every conference has been rewarding and sometimes life changing.     

The 2010 SNAG Conference is coming!

Conf2010_logo_4CThe upcoming SNAG Conference is already accepting registration. During the Conference I will be organizing a way to make the Conference a smaller place with more ways to meet people.  Start saving your money and plan to go to a Conference in 2010.

Volunteer to help me with the "meet and greet" conversations. Get to know some new people.  Volunteer, I could really use your help. Listen to the unexpected and have an experience that enriches you for an entire year. I will be doing the Portfolio Reviews. Sign up early for a free Portfolio Review with gallery representatives, curators and successful artists in the metals field.

I am also organizing the Professional Development Seminar with Andy Cooperman and Don Friedlich.Pds_logoletterhead The Professional Development Seminar in Houston, Texas, is planning  three hours of concrete information from 9:00am-12:00pm on Friday, March 12, that will change the way you approach your work and the way you do business. At 9:00am, Bruce Baker will present ‘The Art of Selling’ and at 11:00am he will shift to ‘Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialogue about Pricing Your Work.’  We will continue the conversation during lunch from 12:00-1:30. Bring your lunch so you don't miss a moment. Learn strategies for success.

Harriete Estel Berman
www.harriete-estel-berman.info



Start creating online visibility - with Facebook and Flickr to promote your art and craft

Dear Harriete,

I haven't tried the Internet yet to promote my work. What do you suggest to start with first?

Signed,

Overwhelmed and Confused

Dear Overwhelmed,

The Web can certainly help your marketing efforts, even for a novice.   Start with the easiest web exposure by joining a couple of social networking sites.  Here is a list of several good ones.

Flickr offers a free image posting service. You can upload images to create a portfolio and then refer people to look through your online portfolio.  Flickr is less about socializing and focuses more on providing an easy to manage portfolio of images. Some "groups" within Flickr have discussion boards, but they don't seem that active. Flickr is NOT a retail venue, in fact, any overt promotion of your work, such as prices or links to retail sites, is strictly forbidden except on your profile page.

It is easy to post images on Flickr. If you don't have Photoshop (or other photo editing software) you can upload rather large images to Flickr directly from your computer or camera.  Flickr will accept large images and resize them to web size images. This is a quick and easy way to make web-ready images. Flickr is free for up to 200 images or 100 MB.  Start with the free stuff.  You can upgrade any time to the fee-based premium options. There is no filter on Flickr, which means anyone and everyone can participate, but you'll be joining a crowd. To give you work on Flickr more visibility, join groups on Flickr, then post more of your work to the groups regularly. You may meet people with similar interests. 

Facebook is a social networking site that is also free and very easy to use.  Posting images is secondary, but you can make posting images of your art or craft work a primary focus for your pages.  You'll gain a lot of visibility with a wide new audience both inside and outside of the arts and crafts world. You'll meet lots of people on Facebook and it helps break the isolation of the studio.  Facebook is the largest photo sharing site on the web. 

Crafthaus is organized specifically for artists and craftspeople.  It is monitored by Brigette Martin and is intended to be a combination of social network and image visibility within a group of like-minded people.  Martin acts as a juror to filter or select who can participate and what images can be posted within the site. A number of on-going discussions and blogs cover art/craft related issues.  It now costs about $20 to be on Crafthaus.

LinkedIn is a social networking site without images but it can be useful to connect with other individuals or possibly your collectors who might have a "professional" profile. It doesn't cost anything other than a bit of your time, and it provides another possibility to connect with colleagues from your past, present and the future. Keep this site completely professional. Skip any reference to your family, children and pets, etc.

Every one of these sites generates visibility for you and your art work or craft. As you become more proficient, make sure to add links on each of your profile pages for every site and your website to interconnect them.  This creates more traffic for your artwork or craft and more name recognition. The Internet is called the "web" and it is up to you to create a web of links and connections to catch attention for you and your work.

A new generation of the web - dubbed "Web 2.0" (pronounced web two point o) - enables sites such as Facebook and Flickr.  For most of us, it means that you don’t need programming skills or special software to participate.  Most 2.0 sites are very egalitarian by their very nature. Just jump right in and get started. After some experimentation it does get a lot easier.  If you get stuck, many people already on-line can help you out. Just post your question and ask for help. 

Your goal is to gain visibility online that could lead to purchases.  Experiment first with the free sites and learn before spending money on Internet sites that promise visibility for $100 to $200 a year. You can create a lot of visibility without spending much money. Save your money for investing in fantastic professional photography. 

Go ahead, jump in and get your feet wet. IF you don't like it, you can either delete your account or let it lie fallow.

For some expert insight, there will be an entire afternoon focused on websites and Web 2.0 during the Professional Development Seminar on May 20, 2009 (Wednesday afternoon) before the SNAG Conference in Philadelphia. This four hours of information is a real deal for $15 at the door. (Download the Professional Development FLYERThis program is open to anyone. 

Stay tuned for future posts about Web 2.0 and other good stuff that I expect to learn at the Professional Development Seminar (in case you can't come) . Retail 2.0 sites will be listed in an upcoming blog post. 

Signed,

Harriete Estel Berman

P.S.  I have included the links to many sites in which I participate, but you may not be able to see much unless you sign in.  Hopefully you'll see other examples to give you a feel for the particular site.


Are you wondering if your website is working for you?

Are you wondering if your web site is working for you? Can a website provide more benefits? Good questions! Well there is a program coming up that can offer real insight into your web site performance.

Marla Johnson Norris from Aristotle Design will be speaking for two hours at the upcoming Professional Development Seminar. This costs only $10 with pre-registration ($15 at the door).

The first hour will be:
Improving Website Performance & Design
In this highly informative and entertaining hour, Marla Johnson Norris will share tips on building new websites, modifying existing ones to better engage web visitors, and to rank higher in search engines. Learn how to develop design elements that build your web audience and lead visitors to online purchasing.

The second hour is titled:
Using Social Networking and Virtual Communities to Drive Business
Social networking and online communities are quickly becoming some of the most useful tools in the virtual marketplace. Marla Johnson Norris will show you how to cut through the clutter using these free venues to create buzz about your work. During this session, she will cover a wide variety of networking opportunities that are readily and inexpensively available – from articles and blogs to consumer sites such as ETSY.com and trunkt.com to community sharing sites such as Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.

Revolutionary

Maximizing the Online Revolution: Websites and Beyond

PhiladelphiaFLYERaskHarriete

WHEN: Wednesday, May 20, 2009

TIME: 2:00 - 6:00 PM
WHERE: The Loews Philadelphia Hotel
Commonwealth Rooms C & D
1200 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
COST: $10 with pre-registration for the entire afternoon; $15 at the door
Pre-REGISTER online Scroll down the page to the line that says: * Pre-Conference Professional Development Seminar 

To read about the entire program go here:

Would you like to ask our speaker and panelists questions? You are welcome to submit your questions in advance by simply posting your questions on this blog as a comment.

Best regards,

I look forward to meeting you in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 20, 2009.
Harriete Estel Berman


How do I promote my work in a slow economy?

Harriete,
I was wondering if you had any ideas about how to get increase visibility and possibly retail purchases with the current economy.    I am exploring ALL of my options.
Exploring

Dear Exploring ALL your options,
There are many Internet sites that offer visibility of your work for both the arts and crafts community and could expose your work to new audiences.

During these slow times I am investing in "Research and Development" with my work and on-line networking. Recently, I heard an interview on Charlie Rose discuss the approach of the famous CEO of Intel,  Andy Grove. His approach during slow downs in the economy is Research and Development and investing in his company preparing for the upturn in the economy. While his business background does not apply to the arts directly, his attitude is one we can embrace.

A slow down in the economy is not the time to take a vacation or lay around getting extra rest.  We need to experiment in the studio, develop new ideas and designs. Invest your time in an amazing one of a kind or limited production item that you may not have had time to create when you were swamped with orders.

I have been posting multiple images of older work on 2.0  network sites just to show my work to aFlowerWht 72 larger audience that may not have seen it before or may not be familiar with my work. I consider all of the Internet options like Facebook, Flickr, Crafthaus and Etsy as opportunities for exposure for the future.

Now is the time to work on finding new visibility. Enter a few shows or submit your amazing new pieces to a book or magazine. Try networking on Flickr, Facebook, Crafthaus, or start your own blog.  All of these actions can be done for free. Post images on these sites. Let people know about all the great work you've made in the past that they may have never seen. I have met people by networking on line that I have never met at a conference. One more important reason to participate on these sites is that they will link to your web site. 

Do you have a web site? I think a web site is an absolute requirement for artists these days. It establishes your credibility and helps people find you or find out more about your work. You could have just one or two pages with information and links to other sites, but a professional web site is a must.  Note, I said, "professional." The web site should match your personal aesthetic and style.  A D.I.Y. web site or a template will look like a cookie cutter impression. Invest in a modest but unique web site style which can develop in the future with additional pages and more information.

Personally, I am working on posting more information on my web site, such as my video and my slide lectures (as PowerPoint presentations). SlideShare is a new site where you can post PowerPoint lectures for free. What a great way to introduce your work to new people.

Pds_logoletterhead The Professional Development Seminar on May 20, 2009 at the next SNAG Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will have an amazing program about websites and 2.0 for the first two hours. The second half of the program is about the future of galleries in the 21st century. Don't miss this valuable information. It only costs $10 if you pre-register. 

Hope this information is helpful and inspiring. Do you have ideas that you would like to add?
Share them with others as a comment -- or email me directly or find me on Facebook.

Harriete Estel Berman





To 2.0 or not to 2.0, that is the question.

The online world is still emerging and exciting and filled with innovative energy. It is also unfamiliar to many people or even a new discovery for some. 

The subsequent discussions about 2.0 were serendipitous and spontaneous. 

What is most surprising to me is that people on both sides of the conversation, “established” and “2.0 people”, felt attacked or judged. This is not conjectured on my part. They told me and I have to acknowledge the sincerity of their sentiments from both sides. The topic certainly initiated fervent discussion.

Personally, I don't think anyone intended to offend others. If any offense was perceived, I hope that everyone will be a little more tolerant as the community tries to learn more about and perhaps eventually embrace these new channels. Many “established” people are still digesting these new ideas even though “2.0 people” are already quite comfortable with 2.0 and blogging.  For a lot of people in the audience, they were hearing about this for the FIRST TIME. They were a little shocked, taken aback, wondering where do they fit in. They are wondering …will the 2.0 Marketplace offer us a place to show AND SELL our work. How do I do this? Where do I even start?

Overall, we have much more to learn from each other. Deb Todd Wheeler showedFormation_of_qeese a flock of geese at the end of her lecture. She informed us that the birds actually take turns as the leader of the V-shaped formation. The one bird in front breaks the wind for the others, making it easier for all the other birds. From time to time, other birds take a turn to take the lead and buffer the wind. This is a very powerful metaphor for this discussion. Leadership, whether from the old guard, the avant-guard or Etsy always takes a little extra risk and effort. The goal is to share the information to help the community.