Quality Photographic Images Feed

Photo Magic or "POOF" Photo Disaster - The Hand as a Prop in the Photographic Image

Hands are particularly challenging in a photo. This is because our brains are engineered to stare at our hands. Thus we can't help looking at the hands in the photo before anything else. Another problem is that most people's hands tend to look a little awkward. Bad combination! For these reasons, hands are particularly challenging in a photo.

HANDS of Harriete Estel Berman with Jeweler'sTattoos.
My very calloused and scarred hands with
"Jeweler's tattoos" (those little trophies
from drilling into your fingers).

The hands of artists and makers can be very unattractive. Calloused, cut, worn, scarred, muscular, and downright unsightly makers' hands ruin the whole photo. "Poof" photo disaster.  My first suggestion for "photo magic" is that artists should avoid using their own hands in a photoshoot.

Recycled Glass Bead Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman When photographing jewelry or clothing to be worn on the hand or arm,  decide whether the benefits of a model's hand outweigh the distractions.  In this case, the hand is a prop.  Its purpose is to highlight key elements of the work.

To achieve "photo magic" make sure the hands look attractive. This requires long graceful fingers and clean, perfectly manicured fingernails.

 Recycled straight  Bracelet by Harriete Estel BermanDuring the photoshoot, pay close attention to the model's hand positions. If the model's hands aren't working naturally, either position the hands exactly as you want them or try a position such that the hands don't show.

Professional Guidelines Brochure Model Release Contract.If you can avoid including hands in the photo it is much easier to get successful photo magic. For example, two photos in the new Professional Guidelines brochure (left) have taken this approach.

In the far left image of Jesse Mathes' necklace, the hands are hidden behind the model's back. This gives the body a sculptural form with no distraction.

Marj-schick-collar In the photo of Marjorie Schick's body sculpture (left) the model's hands are also hidden. Just imagine what this photo would look like with the model's hands showing.  Hopefully, you realize how distracting hands can be.

 

 

Photo shoot by Harriete EStel Berman  and Emiko Oye Even with beautiful hands, it might be one out of 50 shots with varying light and positions to get just the right photographic image.

Ask for some honest critique to see if the hand is drawing attention away from the work or contributing to the focus of the photo and comprehension of the artist's intent.

The next post will describe a few MISTAKES and SOLUTIONS with photographs of hands. Either you will have Photo Magic or "POOF" photo disaster! It's all in the hands.

Harriete

Recycle plastic jewelry work by Harriete Estel Beman. Photo Credit: emiko oye.

Photo of my hands: Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

This post was updated on January 27, 2022, to provide current links.


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 paper 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
  Photoshoot
  emiko oye photographer

Lighting is KEY to great photos. Bounce cards with natural lighting are 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 "homegrown" photoshoot.

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. 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 photoshoot. Working with models always seems to take at least twice as long as you plan. Hair, make-up, clothing, lighting are all significant factors. 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 photoshoot. 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 are constructed from post-consumer recycled plastic. Photos by emiko oye

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

This post was updated on January 27, 2022.


Professional Guidelines improve your images!

Sunday I posted opportunities to submit your images for three different books. Check it out if you missed the post. I didn't want to wait until Tuesday because of the pending deadline for submitting images.

BentClocks06 "Oh No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!," you say.
"My images aren't ready!!!!!!!!!"
"My new work isn't finished!!!!!!!!!!!"

That is just the point! Success is always just around the corner, but only if you are prepared with photographs. You can't wait until the opportunity is upon you to make something you've been thinking about for years. Don't wait for an invitation to complete that important project. Then get your photos done.  Chance favors the prepared!

Alysso Endo PHOTO shoot of aqua bracelet behind the camera
Photoshoot in progress. Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

The Professional Guidelines has several documents that will help you on your path to success with  four topics to improve your application:

TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book, or Magazine. 

Working with Digital Images Effectively

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

Model Release Contract


All information is FREE.

Click on this link Download PGHANDOUT2010 for a one-page PDF including all 19 topics in the Professional Guidelines.

Stay tuned for the next post about using a model to photograph your jewelry, clothing, or art to wear.

This post was updated on January 27, 2022.


New Opportunities to Submit Your Photos - Follow This to Improve Your Chances of Success

There are opportunities to submit your work to upcoming books -- right now, but first below are some tips and links to help improve your chances. 

Consider reading the previous posts on ASK Harriete about photographic backgrounds.  The series isn't finished but I didn't want to wait any longer to let you know about these opportunities to use your fabulous photos!
Professional-Guidelines-Larger-Image
NEXT, MORE TIPS can be found in the Professional Guidelines which include three specific topics to improve your application:

TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book, or Magazine. 

Working with Digital Images Effectively

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

And finally, when submitting for a publication, this is NOT the time to experiment with unusual colored or textured backgrounds.  To avoid getting a "NOT ACCEPTED" notice, stick with the conventional white, black, or graduated backgrounds. These "tried and true" standards reliably produce more "acceptable" images for a wide range of situations.

Now, here are BOOKS SEEKING ENTRIES.
(Click on the links provided for more information.)

1) Humor in Craft,Schiffer Publishing, curated by Brigitte Martin

2) Showcase 500 Rings, Lark Books, curated by Bruce Metcalf

3) The Bead and Wire Jewellery Designer’s Bible, Download Information Pack (BDEA) UK by Renata Graham Note: The deadline is very tight, January 31st, so send samples of your work ASAP if you are interested! Preferably only new work. The information is not clear about what size photos so I recommend 4" x 6" x 300 dpi.



Update:
Humor in Craft was published and has won multiple book publishing awards. If you are interested in craft objects from sculpture to jewelry I highly recommend this book for hours, days, and weeks of entertainment and interesting observations.

HumorINCraft

Showcase 500 Rings can be purchased on Amazon.

 

This post was updated on January 27, 2022.

The Bead and Wire Jewellery Designer’s Bible, by Renata Graham

In summer 2011 quarto Publishing will be delivering this forthcoming title world wide, and we are currently looking for a wide selection of bead jewellery and beadwork to feature throughout the book.

Each featured artist will be credited in full and receive a complimentary copy.

Please see attached for further details.

Note the deadline is very tight, 31st Jan, so send me samples of your work asap if you are interested! Preferably only new work.

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.

Marie Kazalia

Marie,

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 the 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 their 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, website, 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 of 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 rats."

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 website 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 is 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 loan your artwork to other institutions. In these 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!

This post was updated on January 27, 2022.


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 acceptable 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 are 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 to her photos because they offer insight into the decorative elements in her work.

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

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 website graphics. This complete approach to every detail of her work and website 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 website 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 this youTube Photography in Flux playlist.


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!

This post was updated on January 26, 2022.


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 website. 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 embedded images, click hereHistoricalteapotscoffeepots_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 websites, juried applications, and on the printed page.

An example of a beautiful website 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
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!

This post was updated on January 26, 2022.


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 website or portfolio (or even in a juried application), it does NOT look good.

Anthrocabinetcur For this post, I studied a variety of websites 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 same background of bleached, faded wood. The website 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 their website and you will see that every item is photographed on the same background. While not a solid color, it has a very 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 website 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 websites 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 website or online marketing should look like one cohesive identity with a clear emphasis on the work.

Cratefireplace Go to any retail website, 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 to artists and makers. Mood, "warmth" and connection with your customer should be separated from the 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!

This post was updated on February 5, 2022, to provide current links and update content.


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, water-washed 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 merchandising? 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 website, and "breaking all the rules with style and perfection." 

This post was updated on January 26, 2022.


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 are 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 chooses 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 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 pendant 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 website 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...

This post was updated on January 26, 2022, to provide current links.


Side-By-Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Some comments during this series of "Side-By-Side Comparisons of Different Photos" prompted me to add comparisons of photos with colored backgrounds.

B&wID_72B&wID_blue72GreyB&W.72
The use of colored backgrounds in photography of art or craft is not simply a "black and white" issue.  There are too many considerations. 

For this post, I will only use photos of my work to illustrate solid colored backgrounds (so no one else feels like a guinea pig in this public critique).  Feel free to respond however you want about my examples.

[Note: A couple of future posts will discuss backgrounds with texture or other extra content.  Stay tuned.] 

The photos immediately below are from a pre-digital era. Yes, the left photo was actually photographed on a yellow background paper at my request by my photographer Philip Cohen. The photos were taken in 1990 -- before digital manipulation could easily replace the background with a different color.

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.

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 dollhouses
1990 Cover photo for Metalsmith
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

The yellow background photograph was used for the cover of a summer issue of Metalsmith Magazine in the early 1990s.  It was my idea to photograph on yellow and a very scary idea. A bright yellow background breaks completely with the established standard of gray-to-graduated backgrounds, then and now.  I used the yellow background that one time and have never used it again in 20 years.

SmallPiecesgraybk At the same time, I had the same sculpture photographed on a more standard gray background. Thank goodness! The gray photo has been used over and over in many shows, books, and magazines. 

I felt then and still feel that the yellow background really makes the work POP! But let's get really honest! -- the vast majority of the art and craft community do not view work on bright yellow backgrounds as serious work.  The general consensus seems to be that a brightly colored background is perceived as decorative, overly dramatic, or superficial.  Or, am I mistaken? What do you think?

A key consideration is your audience. The yellow cover of a summer issue of a magazine might work one time, but it definitely doesn't fit my audience every time.  A stimulating image to one group may be too much for another group.

Here is another example of colored backgrounds. The same necklace is in every photo. The background is not Photoshopped, each is an original photo.   

B&wID_72B&wID_blue72GreyB&W.72
Black and White Identity Bead Necklace © 2006
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

This comparison is striking. The necklace and the reflection are eye-catching.  Every photo is lit perfectly.  If you could submit one photo of this necklace, which photo would you use? What happens when your career depends on the decision? 

Here is my appraisal of each photo.

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman is photographed on a neutral light gray background.The subdued gray of this photo is well within a standard photographic background and a fabulous photo, but lacking the drama of the black and colored options. Do you think this is as good a photo as the black background or blue?

I've never used the graduated light gray background because I thought it was boring.  Indeed, one of the previous comments suggested that white, gray, or graduated black backgrounds are boring.

B&wID_blue72 The turquoise blue background is a really dramatic image. The blue is a contrasting color to the orange spacer beads. The combination of the necklace, reflection, and striking background makes the entire image very attractive.

I've submitted the brilliant blue background photo to several books and shows but it has never been accepted.  The blue background seems to break too many unofficial rules.

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman is a commentary about our consumer society.The only photo that has been accepted by either a publisher, Internet article, or show has been the necklace on the black background.

This photo seems to capture a high level of drama within the image yet focuses attention on the work. 

The goal of your photograph is to have the viewer focus on your art or craftwork, not on the image itself.   Which background enhances the viewer's perception of the work without stealing the spotlight?  Does the background become overly dramatic? Is there a prejudice against colorful backgrounds as not serious enough?

How do you interpret the issues presented here? 

 Previous posts in the series Side-By-Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

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...

The book images and links are from Amazon as affiliate links. 

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 were discussed at the Professional Development Seminar titled, Photography in Flux.

This post was updated on January 26, 2022, to provide current links.


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.

Some makers 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 to 
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, two options 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 its collection photographed on a black background (as in the image to the left). At the time of writing this post, the website itself had a black background that the images were placed on. The edge of the black background photo disappeared into the background of the site. Unfortunately, it made the entire site seem rather dark and dreary.  They have since updated their site and now have a white background which is a much better look.

Harriete Estel Berman's bracelet on the MAD web site. Some of the work on the Museum of Art and Design website is photographed on a 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 than 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).

The 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.

 

This post was updated on January 26, 2022.


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 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 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 creates a grid of images (see image to the right). If the backgrounds are not identical, the grid appearance may look 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 Crayon 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 the use of a graduated background for photos is the background color of your website. I've noticed that graduated backgrounds look better on websites 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 the 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. Burlwood, 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. Burlwood, 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

Octagonal 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'S CONTACT INFORMATION IS LISTED BELOW. 

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.

Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.

This post was updated on February 5, 2022, to provide current links.


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 foam core "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 photoshoot 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 websites with dark backgrounds.  My previous website was a spectrum of greenish, grey backgrounds. I consciously did not want a white background website.  And I must admit that pure white background photos did NOT look that great on my website. 

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 becomes 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. Burlwood, 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. Burlwood, 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

Octagonal 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, in 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'S CONTACT INFORMATION IS LISTED BELOW. 

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.

Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.

This post was updated on February 5, 2022.

 


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 dollhouses
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 backgrounds.  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 dollhouses
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, in the series titled:
Photographic Comparisons Side-By-Side

Previous posts include: The Photographers Revealed.

This post was updated on January 24, 2022.


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 website?

In a side-by-side comparison of two images by two different photographers, how much original content does the photographer add? Are we seeing the 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 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” © 2009  Andy Cooperman. Burlwood, 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. Burlwood, 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.

PHOTOGRAPHER'S CONTACT INFORMATION IS LISTED BELOW.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.


Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.

This post was updated on February 5,  2022.


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

The issues surrounding professional photographic images have 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 2010 I was discussing these issues extensively with Andy Cooperman and Brigitte Martin as we plan the Professional Development Seminar. 
In 2022 I am witness to the success of a great image. Good or bad, the background can make a huge difference to the overall impression of your work.  

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,  the photographers will be revealed along with questions for further consideration.  

Commentary on the images will be discussed. You're welcome to comment about the photos 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” © 2009  Andy Cooperman. Burlwood, sterling, gold leaf, stain.
 

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

Image 3a.                        Image 3b.
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887 Test2aJ 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 websites).

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.

Harriete

This post was updated on February 5, 2022.


Who Owns the Photographic Image? Comments and opinions with no clear answer.

The previous post titled Who Owns the Photographic Image sparked many comments, including well-researched and logical arguments, but so far there is no definitive answer. Check out the comments on the previous post. There were so many comments from Facebook, Crafthaus, Orchid/Ganoskin, I saved them all. If you want a copy, send me an email request.

Harriete.blurry If you would like to express another opinion, please leave it in the comments below this post.  In the meantime, I'm going to summarize some of the comments and my impressions. 

What bothered me most about this issue is the confusion.  Apparently, it would be helpful to have a simple contract or letter of agreement for artists and makers needing to hire photographers to photograph the artwork.  The contract is NOT intended to involve monetary compensation for the use of the images, but instead (as stated in a previous post) to support sharing images of our work for critical writing and lectures.

Gryoscope The purpose of the contract (or letter of agreement) is to clearly establish that the photos of the work may be published without requiring subsequent permission from the photographer.

Andy Cooperman digests the diversity of opinions in his comment on ASK Harriete, "Yes, there is logic on both sides of the conversation. But what we are after, I think (speaking for the Professional Development Seminar Committee) is a definitive answer. Barring any negotiated contractual agreement between the artist or original maker of the work and the photographer who has been retained (hired) to document that work as closely as they can to its appearance in the real world, who owns the rights to the image? Who is the default owner of the rights? There must be an answer...."

Two Roses astutely points out on Crafthaus that the image of the artwork "is potentially as valuable, and perhaps more valuable than the work of art being photographed." "The emergence of online exhibitions will continue to place greater emphasis (and value) on the image of a piece rather than the piece itself."

PCohenWith bounce Cards There is no doubt that superior photography of art or craft involves great skill from the photographer.  However, the goal of the engagement between artist and photographer is to capture a faithful rendering of the artist's or maker's work. Most photographers do not consider that this type of photography reflects the artistic photographer inside them. It is their "day job."

In the past, when an artist hired a photographer there seemed to be an implicit understanding that the artist could use the photo in any way they needed to promote their work. The original payment for the photos included permission for all future publications either in print or online. Photo Credit is a professional courtesy and obligation by all parties in both print and online, but this isn't part of the question.

Marthe Le Van, editor at Lark Books and future speaker for the Professional Development Seminar says, "new platforms for content and its distribution are being developed at such a rapid pace (ie: rights for an electronic edition, a digital download). 'Real' answers are short-lived. Laws are changed, language is changed, and everyone involved has to live with a continually evolving legal landscape. It is most frustrating that there is no definitive, set-in-stone agreement that one can 'know' beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don’t think frequent changes stem from paranoia, but rather a rapidly changing field."

I agree that drafting an agreement between artist and photographer could be a way to clear up a lot of the misunderstanding about who owns the image or who has permission to do what. Of course, as stated above, it would have to be frequently revised.

What we are looking for here is a very simple, non-confrontational contract for artists and photographers to use. Steven Brian Samuels states in a comment on the previous post: "To me, this discussion just highlights the need for an open dialog between artists and photographers. It also stresses the importance of the relationship artists and photographers must have with one another. Artists and photographers can even work hand in hand promoting each other's talents."

Michael Eastman on Orchid/Ganoskin said in a comment, "It really depends on what kind of agreement you have with the photographer. Some photographers will negotiate the rights and demand that they retain the copyright of the photograph they made. Some don't care....  so it is a gray area when it's not discussed."

Stephen Walker's comment on Orchid/Ganoskin seems most relevant to our discussion. 
   “...a US Federal Court ruling that museums do not own the copyright to images simply because they own the originals. If the image is public domain because of antiquity or any other reason photographs, copies, or reproductions of the art are not protected by copyright because the museum is not the author of the creative content, which is where  copyright originates.”
 
In my experience when museums own my work,  they still write to ask me to allow them permission to distribute the image of my work in print, online, etc. This is even after I have either given them images of my artwork or they hire a photographer to photograph the work. I am looking for more information about this.

In the meantime...Does anyone have an example contract or letter of agreement with their clients or photographers?

Harriete

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.


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 museum/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 receives visibility and recognition for the quality of the photographic image (and possibly potential business photographing more work). The art/craft world benefits from the exchange 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 "Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style" on May 28th, 2011.       

 Harriete

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.


Sharing Quality Images for Critical Writing and Discussion

Foundation WallArtists and Makers are the foundation of the arts and crafts community. Whether for personal benefit or for community support, the images of your work provide a crucial mode of communication.

 

CupConv12
Consuming Conversation © 2004
"Never Let Your Ideas Deceive You FromThe Real Truth"
Post-consumer recycled tin cans,
bronze handle,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

From a range of perspectives, several speakers at SOFA Chicago (including Susan Cummins, Garth Clark, Bruce Metcalf, and Janet Koplos) emphasized that critical writing and dialogs are vital to raising the consciousness of craft media and that visual communication with quality photographic images is an essential component.

41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_ The importance of great photographic images for your art or craft along with adequate documentation was stressed by Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos, authors of the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. When starting the book they thought they would be overwhelmed by the number of images and the task of deciding which photos to use in their very important book Makers.

However, it turned out that the images in the book were often chosen from which images were available and acceptable, rather than from an excess of images.  How can it be that an artist's or maker's entire body of work, a lifetime of artistic exploration, is represented solely by which image can be found?  @%!#!!!!

During the same day of lectures, Garth Clark raised the problem of some artists not allowing images of their work to be used in print or lectures out of concern that such use might negatively affect their branding or identity as an artist. I recommend you read the previous two posts:

Pandora's Box or Toolbox - COPYRIGHT of Photographic Images

Photo Permission & Copyright Issues - Is this hampering a dialog?

OscarWILDE I believe that it should be a shared responsibility for artists and makers to support growth and "the free exchange of ideas in a visual culture"* by allowing images of our work to be used for critical writing and lectures (without requesting monetary compensation).  By far most critiques are net positives.  But if not, Oscar Wilde said it best, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

So always have great photos ready. The quality of photographic images of your work often reflects the quality of the work itself.

To obtain the maximum mutual benefits,  support the arts community by freely sharing your great images for inclusion in writing, dissertations, lectures, books, and magazines. Let's help make valuable contributions to the community with the very best photographic images of our work.

Harriete

*quote from an email conversation with Bruce Metcalf, author of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft.

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.


Pandora's Box or Toolbox - COPYRIGHT of Photographic Images

On November 18th I wrote to Garth Clark via email to thank him for his comments about the previous post on ASK Harriete. We were discussing the issues surrounding the importance of photographic images in creating a dialog and critical discourse within the arts and crafts community. 

Many issues surround the use of photographic images.  So in an effort to bring this discussion into a more public forum, Garth Clark agreed to a post of our email conversation.

Garth Clark is a noted author and lecturer who has lectured across the U.S. I have listed a few of his many books on the right column of this blog as affiliate links for your convenience.

HARRIETE email text is in black.
GARTH Clark's email text is in steel blue.

 

Critics Choice is a series of three pencil sharpeners as a commentary on art criticism.
Critic’s Choice © 1986
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

HARRIETE:
Thanks for your comment [on the previous post on ASK Harriete]. I am glad to hear your point of view directly rather than filtered by my notes and memory.
 
Trying to be organized here …. It seems that there are three issues:
Issue#1. Hampering versus encouraging ”legitimate scholarly or critical usage.” Publishing books and articles including images for “legitimate scholarly or critical usage” should definitely be encouraged.  This is the reason I wrote the previous post about this topic. The arts and crafts will grow and develop by expanding such discourse.  I would like to encourage authors, publishers, artists, and makers to all cooperate in this endeavor.  We all benefit.

GARTH:
Encouragement is not enough. See comments below. It has to be a legal option for the writer.

CRITIC's Choice  Metalgramatic pencil sharpener is made from lead by Harriete Estel Berman
Critic’s Choice © 1986
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

HARRIETE:
Issue #2.  Copyright protection and artists’ rights to control images of their work.
I could never endorse that artists abdicate their rights of ownership of the work they created.  If they don’t see a benefit to themselves or their community for participating in someone's “usage” it is a loss for them.  That is their right, whether anyone else agrees with them or not.  Yet, I hope that it is clear that in the vast majority of situations, I firmly believe that the artists benefit by granting permission (even without direct payment) and being included in a publication.

GARTH:
I agree but with an exemption. My free speech as a critic should enable me to voice my opinion and illustrate the object of my criticism with or without the artist's permission so long as it does not constitute commercial usage. It cannot be "by permission only" because my experience in real life is that artists are into free speech for themselves but not when someone wants to question their work. So to think that they will just cooperate is naïve.

 

Critics Choice pencil sharpener titled Didactic is constructed by Harriete Estel Berman  as a commentary about art criticism.
Critic’s Choice © 1986
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

HARRIETE:
Issue #3.  Use of images for commercial enterprise.
While the premise of books and articles may be “legitimate scholarly or critical usage,” my understanding is that someone is selling those publications.  Whether or not anyone makes a profit, such use is a commercial enterprise.  For example, book publishers sell educational textbooks but are still required to obtain permission to publish copyright images. Even if profit is not the primary motivation, the author or publisher is still benefiting from the use of artists' images in the publication.

GARTH:
This defeats the whole purpose. The craft world is so concerned that someone might be slipped a buck or two and they will not. How can criticism be disseminated without someone being paid, a publisher, a critic, a photographer? The point is whether one was making a critical statement about the art or trying to exploit it for profit.

Do you know what a reviewer gets paid by a daily newspaper for a review? $130. In many cases what the writer gets for writing a piece is less than what the artist receives for copyright fees. Current fair usage already mandates limited use of the imagery. If I were to write an entire book on an artist, pro or con, that would be a violation. But if in a text with 200 images I needed to reproduce two photographs that were essential to the critical argument, that is fair usage.

And that does not give wholesale permission for anyone else to use the image thereafter. No primary right has been lost. And it's not that artists use this to control the copyright in a fair and open manner but often to control content (i.e. smother dissent with threats of lawsuits). I find that anti-democratic and an affront to the supposed open exchange of the aesthetic experience for which the art world purports to stand.

What this has resulted in is that independent book publishing is on its way out.  Over 90% of the books you see on artists today are artist-sanctioned volumes (often with fees waived because it's to their benefit) that are paid for upfront and in full by their gallery, a sponsor, collector, or their estate. Publishers are too scared to cross this line, so all we get now is coffee table PR. Don’t you think something has been lost?

I would warn younger artists in trying this ploy. Publishers simply exchange images for which a fee is requested with those of artists who make no charge. So unless you are crucial to the document, you could find yourself edited out by the accounting department.

But before you get your crafters smock in a twist, bear in mind this applies ONLY to LEGITIMATE critical writings. And there are already some guidelines. Books such as Lark are not critical studies and would not be exempt. I am arguing for a very narrow exemption on the correct side of free speech.

Critics  Choice says, "RESONANT with Social Implications" by Harriete Estel Berman
Critic’s Choice © 1986
"Resonant with oblique social
implications"
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

HARRIETE:
So an exchange of benefits seems like an opportunity.  Let the two parties negotiate.  Hopefully, both sides see the mutual benefits of working together (with or without cash compensation), but if they don't agree, both must walk away empty-handed.  I think it would be heavy-handed to "amend the law" to assure that one side always wins.

GARTH:
And as so often happens in the arts with “enlightened” legislation to protect the artists such as a 5% resale fee to artists, 99% of the benefit goes to the superstars. If you are going to pay for photographs, the bulk of that budget is kept for the Koon's and Hirsch’s of the world because they have the greater bargaining power. (Although Koons was very gracious in allowing me to include his work in my recent Metalsmith piece without cost.)

And it gets worse because in some cases one has to pay the museum that owns the piece, the photographer who shot it, and the artist. Three charges! That bill can come to over $1500 per image! Bear in mind that almost nobody makes big money off art books. So while it may fit into your commercial use bracket, neither the publisher nor the author earns enough for a week in Monaco. And what books do in developing an audience for artists is immense. Copyright fees are now strangling the independent book publisher. Major artists will not feel any pain because they self-publish. Lesser artists (financially speaking) will become invisible.

Thanks for giving this subject some air.

HARRIETE to the readers: This discussion is just beginning.

  • Do you have any comments or questions that you would like to add?
  • Does this issue impact only the rarefied artist or the entire community?
  • If you are paid for using images of your work, is your photographer going to expect additional compensation?  
  • I personally wonder who decides what author or document fits into the category of "LEGITIMATE critical writings." 
  • Are we opening Pandora's box with this discussion or can we arrive at a broad consensus?

Related Articles:

The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY in the Age in the Internet

Copyright Ownership vs. Owning the DVD

REFERENCES to Keynote Lecture Synergy 3: The Good, BAD and the UGLY in the Age of the Internet

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.

 

Pandora's Tool Box titled Make Me Over, Over, Over by Harriete Estel Berman Pandora's Box Make Me Over, Over, Over  © 1984
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman


Photo Permission & Copyright Issues - Is this hampering a dialog?

Hotbutton The previous post discussed the lecture by Garth Clark at SOFA Chicago and his tour of Metalsmith Exhibition in Print: Neo-Palatial (published by SNAG).  Clark concluded his talk by commenting on a hot button topic.  He suggested that images of art and craft should be made available copyright-free for the purpose of supporting and expanding critical writing and discourse. Copyright_symbol2

A rather radical idea.  But as I understand it, artists sometimes deny the use of their photos to writers.  Such artists commonly rationalize this behavior for two reasons:


1)  ARTIST CONTROL OF BRANDING OR IDENTITY
Some artists don’t want photos of their work used in a non-approved context. In other words, they want to control how their work is seen, who is writing about their work, what is written about their work, which publications the article will be in, etc. The artists want complete and absolute control over their identity (or "brand") as an artist or maker.  I have heard that this is a small, but growing problem.

Bar Code Identity Necklace

Bar Code Identity Necklace © 2008
Plastic, vintage beads, recycled tin,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

2)   ARTISTS EXPECT PAYMENT FOR IMAGES
Some artists want to be paid for the use of photos. However, writers rarely have much of a budget for an article or book, much less extra money to pay for the use of an image.  Yet some artists are asking upwards of $1,000 per image -- and consequently, end up with no deal at all.

This problem was described by Garth Clark as hampering writers, authors, and lecturers to generate dialog and critical thinking within the art and craft media. I see his point and agree with his intent.  However, I don't see a need to stop using the fundamental copyright law that protects artists' work.

Close up view for seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman How Is This Night Different From All Other Nights? It would be much better for the arts and crafts community to share images of our work with our permission and free of charge.  We collectively have much more to gain by fostering greater awareness within and beyond our community.   It is unproductive to worry about the minuscule possibility that your reputation might be impacted by one writer's point of view. You may be surprised, but normally, both you and the community generally benefit from free-flowing dialog. Open the door to the possibilities.

How IsThis Night  Different From All Other Nights
How Is This Night Different From AllOther Nights © 2001   (full view)
Seder Plate constructed from post
consumer recycled tin cans,
Vintage steel dollhouses.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

There have been plenty of times when I've been surprised by the comments of an author.  It may or may not have been negative comments or critical evaluation.  Misrepresentation of my work with an incorrect interpretation or description is a common problem.

Get over it!  Anytime your work goes out into the public forum, this is a risk. It may be annoying, but it is not fatal.  It is more valuable to have people see and hear your name and the discussion. They wouldn't remember slight errors or recognize mistakes. So I suggest that you be bold, brave, and ready for an adventure.

Next week: The importance of quality images and documentation of your work to expand the critical dialog.

Harriete

P.S. Do you have anything to add? Please leave a comment?

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.


IMAGE FILE NAMES can be your code for managing photographs.

Harriete Estel Berman teaching a WORKSHOP on Professional Development for artists and makers I have 1,000's of images . . . and more keep coming.  Managing my digital images can be a chore, but I've found one method that has saved the day over and over ... the file name to each image is my code that helps keep them organized and lets me find the right image quickly.

You can create your own code, but here are a few suggestions and examples of my method.

When creating a code for your image file names, "think" like a computer.  For any group of photos that you want to keep together put them in a folder. Then the first few words should be exactly the same so that the computer's search and sort functions can help you.  Toward the end of the file name, add your special codes that distinguish one photo from another within the group. 

I will be using sculptures from the 1980s as an example in this post. More information about this series of work can be found on my website.

Crock Pot by Harriete Estel BermanAll my Crock Pot images start with the characters "crockpot" in the file names.   

Images with a shadow for my website include "sh" at the end of the title.  The image file name is:  Crockpot-2sh.jpg.

 

Idols of Generations, Illusions to Prophecy domestic iron sculpture by Harriete Estel Berman Animated images (usually for my website) include "_a" in the image file name:   Crockpot_a.gif 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crock Pot closed view  says Consume, Consumate, Consumed. All close up images have a "cu" for "close up" in the file name: 

Crockpot-closed-cu.jpg.

 

 

 

Crock Pot front view is an appliance by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from brass, sterling silver, painted and plated. Images that are sized for uploading to social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, and Etsy are  72 dpi by 1,000 pixels include "72" in the file name.   This image file name: crockpot-FRONT-72.jpg.

 

 

NOTE TO everyone:  Before you upload images to a dropbox, or email to another person be sure to CHANGE THE TITLE from your file name to the actual title of the work for better search engine optimization. Don't forget to add, keywords, tags, and a description.

These are just a few of my examples for managing file names for digital images.   As I said, invent your own code for your image file names and send your images out into the world at the speed of light.

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.


Best sizes for images and what format?

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman  is constructed from recycled materials.



You can approach your art career as "ready for action" or as a wishful thinker. 
Being prepared enables you to take advantage of every opportunity. Last Tuesday's post offered a couple of examples of how being prepared with quality photographic images can mean extra visibility in lectures, online or print publications.

So what image sizes and formats should be "ready to go?"

In my experience of thirty years, standards come and go, but for the last few years, the following is my standard for being prepared with my photographic images:

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace is a close-up view constructed from recycled tin cans.
 - a full-size TIFF
 - a large JPG
 - a website JPG.

Let's go into more detail on each.

Full-size TIFF
Your full-size Tiff is your master image.  It should be 300 dpi  (dots per inch) and 15-32MB file size.  This master image is your largest, highest resolution image ready for print media.

I rarely keep the full-size TIFF on my computer. It takes up too much room.  So most of my TIFF images are stored on CDs or external drives.

If you need to create a specially sized image for uploading to an online application, start with your original TIFF and convert it to the required size and format.

 

Black and White Identity Earrings. by Harriete ESTel Berman
Black and White Identity Earrings
Post-consumer, recycled Tin Cans,
s.silver posts, jump rings, and rivets.
© 2009 Harriete Estel Berman

Large JPG
JPG's are compressed images.  The fact that JPGs are compressed (reduced file size) means that you can email and store large images. The downside is that the compressed image is reduced in resolution quality. Every time you edit a JPG, you lose some of the original information, reducing the quality of the image.

 

Use your master TIFF images to create new JPGs.  I usually keep one large JPG in my computer ready at a moment's notice for an opportunity. (This large JPG may be 2 - 5 MB.)

 

Earrings by Harriete Estel Berman and Necklace by emiko oye.
  Black and White Identity Earrings
 
© 2009 Harriete Estel Berman
 
Silver Hubs Trio Necklace
 © emiko oye

  Photo Credit: emiko oye

Website JPG
For the past two years, I've  made all my social networking images for the Internet 72dpi resolution and 1000 pixels (for the largest dimension.)

 

This size works well for Etsy, Flickr, Facebook, and Crafthaus. It is also a reasonable size for PowerPoint and Keynote presentations.  An image this size is also easy to email.

If I get a request for an image, I am ready to email an image in about five minutes.  Being prepared in advance is all part of the big picture.

emiko oye and I worked together to create this smashing image (above.)  Planning six months ahead for publicity is not too soon.

Sometimes planning ahead can get you and your work into great opportunities. 
Are you ready for action and prepared for every opportunity?

If you need extra guidance with your images, use the Professional Guidelines topics:

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

Working with Digital Images Effectively

RELATED POSTS:

4 TIPS to Improve Search for Your Images

Know your digital image file extensions and how to use them?

How to "name" your digital image files for distribution

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.


Need That Photo YESTERDAY! Be prepared.

After 30 years of exhibition trials and tribulations as an artist and maker, I continue to be reminded of a few recurring actions to be ready for special opportunities!

Three bead bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman Take photos as soon as you finish the work. I mean IMMEDIATELY! The two main reasons are that your work will never look more "fresh" than immediately after you finish it, and you can start promoting your new work with the images.

Your images should be shot in RAW format to create the largest file possible, then clean up the image or modify as necessary in Photoshop. Save the final image as your  "master"  TIF.

CraftsReportcover72As soon as I get my  TIF images from the photographer, I create images for my website and social networking links like Facebook, Flickr, and Crafthaus.

You will also be prepared for an opportunity at a moment's notice.   You never know, but it happens often enough.  Magazines, shows, exhibition sponsors, writers, and fellow artists often want images YESTERDAY.  When such an opportunity occurs, the artist who delivers an image always wins out over those who are not ready.

It happened to me twice last week. One person needed images for their lecture in two days. The other person wanted images for publicity yesterday. The magazine cover image for The Crafts Report (from a couple of years ago) was just another example of being prepared when a last-minute opportunity presents itself. They needed an image, and I was ready.

Was it worth being ready? Are you kidding?  In minutes I can email images with a complete description and Photo Credit.

Black and gold Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman
       Black and Gold Identity Necklace
       Recycled tin cans, Plexiglas, electrical
       cord, brass, 10k gold.
   
   © 2006 Harriete Estel Berman
       Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

While it would be ideal if every opportunity presented itself with six months of advance planning, this is not always the case.  Be prepared by taking your photos immediately without procrastination.  You need to do the photos anyway, so consider it the final step in finishing your work.

Next Tuesday, Ask Harriete will include recommendations for the size of your photographic images.  Be ready for your images to travel at the speed of light.

Harriete

Click on my name to view the entire collection of Bead Bracelets and Bead Necklaces

If you need extra guidance with your images, use the Professional Guidelines topics:

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

Working with Digital Images Effectively

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.

 BlackAOL_neck.1000
Single AOL Bead functions as a magnetic catch by Harriete Estel Berman.


Photographing Your Artwork? Bounce Cards Add Light and Fill in Deep Shadows

I have asked my photographer, Philip Cohen of Philip Cohen Photographic, to write a Guest Post about his #1 favorite pro-photographer trick. It costs pennies, requires no fancy equipment, and can really improve your photographic images. Use this tip with either natural, diffuse daylight (on an overcast day) or with your photo lights.

Note: The opinions expressed by the author, Philip Cohen, in this post are his and his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is intended or implied.

From the pen of photographer Philip Cohen.
Bounce cards are made of white foam core or mat board. You can make a brighter bounce card by gluing silver mylar to the foam core.

Philip Cohen example photography with No Bounce Cards Setup: Start with a white background and some soft light from above. The smooth background focuses attention on the subject and bounces some light onto the underside of the subject.

Problem: The background alone provides pleasant but dull lighting with deep shadows at the bottom.

Philip Cohen photography tip #1 with bounce Cards Solution: Add bounce cards! In this second photo, I used both white and silver reflectors on the side (outside of the camera's view) to illuminate and define the artwork. The bounce cards ease up the shadows and create reflections that show off the lines of the piece. 

Final Image: The softened shadows anchor the artwork in the photo and the plain, uncolored background doesn't conflict with the color of the piece.

 

Philip Cohen Photographic image of Zahava Sherez ceramics
Zahava Sherez © 2010
 Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Featured artwork by Zahava Sherez.

Harriete Estel Berman

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

You can also refer to two documents in the Professional Guidelines with helpful image information.

  Guide TO Professional Quality Images

  Working with Digital Images Effectively

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

This post was updated on January, 13 2022.


Simple lighting to photograph your work.

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

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

Dear Harriete,

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

What would you recommend?

Sayumi Yokouchi

 

 

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

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

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


  

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

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

LindtChocolate_72

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

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

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

     Guide to Professional Quality Images

     Working with Digital Images Effectively

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

This post was updated on February 5 , 2022, to provide current links and update content.
LindtChocolate_bk72


Communicating with your photographer - What kind of images do I want?

Sayumi Yokouchi wrote a letter asking two good questions.  I am going to paraphrase her questions and answer them in two separate posts.  Here is the first one.

Dear Harriete,

I LOVE your site and tell/share it with everybody. Thank you, thank you!!! 

Sayumi Yokouchi Circle Drawing Brooch
 Circle Drawing Brooch 9     © 2009
 Found Wire, Sterling Silver wire
 9 x 7.5 x 1.5 cm
 Artist: Sayumi Yokouchi
 Photo Credit: Ralph Gabriner

I've been using a professional photographer for years (after a number of my own attempts to photograph my work).  The images are fine most of the time, but it is sometimes a bit frustrating to describe how I want my work to be photographed.

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

I read your quality image guidelines.  What would you recommend?

Thanks again.

Sayumi Yokouchi

Sayumi,
When I take my work to my photographer, Philip Cohen, I usually have a very clear idea of how I want it to look. I tell him the most important part(s) of the artwork and point out the elements that I want him to feature in the close-up.  We have developed an approach that accommodates most work. Like you, it is the exceptions and unusual work that I have to go further to communicate.

Sometimes I have a postcard in mind as in the image below. The artwork, "A Square Yard of Grass", was photographed with this triple-panel folding postcard in mind.Grass postcard by Harriete Estel Berman is available for purchase.
When you want something different, the photographer can't read your mind, so plan on an additional discussion to convey your larger objectives for the images.   In preparation, I often do test shots in the studio with a digital camera or prepare sketches with colored pencils on paper of the desired image.  Either option may take me a couple of hours to prepare, but it is a lot less expensive to spend my time testing out the angles and compositions with a digital camera than to pay my photographer his hourly fees on unsatisfactory trial shots.

Windows of Memory by Harriete Estel Berman are constructed from vintage steel dollshouses and recycled tin cans. For very large work, sometimes the approach has to be significantly different. For example, to shoot these window frames, I had to move all my furniture, install the artwork temporarily in my living room and pay for my photographer to come to my house.

Blades of grass from grass sculpture by Harriete Estel Berma are constructed from reycled tin cans. For the grass sculpture (below), I used this close-up to promote the work before it was installed. Then after it was installed at a second exhibition site, I was able to find a professional photographer able to take on the challenge of this scale (9' x9') with a large-format camera.Grass/gras sculpture is 9 ' x 9' lawn of grass by Harreite Estel Berman 

So, in summary, the best way to communicate with your photographer is to be prepared with illustrations or demo shots to show what you want.  When you know something unusual is coming, plan on taking more time to communicate your wishes with example photos from your digital camera or sketches. 

If you have suggestions about how you communicate with your photographer, will you share them with the readers of ASK Harriete?

The next post will be the second question from Sayumi Yokouchi regarding simple lighting systems for photography and resources for digital cameras and lenses.

Harriete

Stay tuned for April Flowers on ASK Harriete.  Starting March 28th, one April Flower Brooch will be posted every day in honor of Earth Day.  Spring flowers bloom with post-consumer, recycled tin cans, brilliant colors, and bountiful prints. 

Ooops!!! I sold a few already. A preview is below:

APRIL FLOWER BROOCH by harriete Estel Berman is made from recycled tin cans.
APRIL FLOWER BROOCH by harriete Estel Berman is made from recycled tin cans.

This post was updated on January 13, 2022.


Uploading Images to Social Networking Sites: What size is recommended?

Berman-Consuming-idenity-chair
When it comes to uploading images to Social Networking sites for online viewing, you want to keep a couple of important factors in mind.

  • Image size for optimal online viewing.
  • Some sites impose a size limit.  
  • Check to make sure your digital images show up properly.
  • Horizontal, profile, or landscape? 
  • Take full advantage of tags and descriptions for each image.

Consuming Identity Chair with UPC Code tins and fabric about creating identity.I've found that file size in the range of one megabyte (1Mb) or less is a practical size for nearly all social networking sites. When you upload an image,  most online sites will automatically downsize the digital image file to fit their template for thumbnail images.  

Not too small!  Most sites these days have a minimum size. If you image is too small it will be rejected. 

I've also heard of people intentionally uploading small images out of fear that their work may be copied.  Frankly, my advice is to "get over it."  Move on.  Keep developing your portfolio with skill and artistic vision amplified by hard work.  A copycat, if one ever occurs, will be found out soon enough.  The recurring benefits of larger images far outweigh the small chance of abuse.   

Not too big!  Don't upload an image file that is too large either.  Many people have high-speed connections, even on their phones, but very large image files (e.g. 3MB and larger) may take such a long time to render on the viewer's monitor that they stop and go elsewhere. 

Consuming Identity Chair by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans.Always try a test viewing of your online images as if you were a potential curator or buyer visiting the site.  If it doesn't show up the way you expected, figure out why, delete the image and re-upload a corrected image file.

Horizontal, profile, or landscape  Each site seems to have a preference for horizontal, profile(vertical), or landscape (horizontal).  It reflects poorly on your artistic eye if your image is cut off. Crop or size your images for each site. You have no choice if you want your images to look great. I often create square, vertical and landscape-shaped images for every artwork.

Look on ASK Harriete for blog tips on tags and descriptions to get the most out of uploaded images. Read the previous blog about image labels.

Consuming Identity Chair by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans.  neit

Harriete

This post was updated on December 23, 2021.


Image labels generate Internet visibility.

 

Stimulus Plan4.72
Stimulus Plan Pins
Recycled tin cans, ss rivets
Previously shown at Sienna Gallery

Your photographic images can be working for you across the Internet at the speed of light, 24 hours a day.  So as you "sign up" and upload your images with various social networking and portfolio sites, take the time to label your images for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to maximize potential traffic.  Proper titles, labels, and descriptions help search engines find your work. 

BASIC INFORMATION:  Every image that you post on the Internet, whether on Facebook, Crafthaus, Flickr, or other social networking/portfolio sites, needs to be labeled with the following information:

  • Artist's name
  • Title of the work
  • Copyright symbol
  • Date of work
  • Media or materials
  • Dimensions (height, width, depth)
  • Helpful other tags (if possible)

Some sites make it easier than others to incorporate this information.  Each site might need to be labeled in a slightly different way, but a little effort can attract a lot more traffic.

WarmSunshine72
Sunshine Pin
Recycled tin cans, ss rivets
Previously shown at Sienna Gallery

Help people find your work.  Although most people are familiar with searching, there may be enormous variations in how they initiate a search; whether by artist name, the title, a rough description, the materials, date, etc.  Let this influence your approach to labeling when uploading images. 

Create a variety of ways for search engines to "hit" your work.   For example, in the "Title" box for labeling photos, I first type in the title of the work and then add my name and date of work within the "title" box.  That way if people are searching the "titles" category for my name, they will find my work.

The same goes for the "Description" box.  Type in all the relevant information about your work in the "description" including your name (again) and other relevant search terms for your work.   

One more suggestion is to spell your name in the tags in a variety of ways if your name is often misspelled.  For example, my first name is "Harriete."  There are several common variations such as "Harriet" (no E at the end) and "Harriette" (with 2 t's.)  My middle name is "Estel," but it is often written as "Estelle."  Don't think I'm crazy. Even if someone misspells my name, I want them to find my work.  Isn't that your goal?  Think about how people regularly misspell your name and use it in your tags.

Time for visibility.  I know that labeling is a bit tedious, especially if you are uploading multiple images.  One time-saver is to compose much of the information in a Word document and then "copy" and "paste" to alleviate some repetition. I use my image descriptions document for just this purpose and a special Word document of "tags" to speed up the process.

Keep in mind that search engines can't "see" an image and can only search on the words that you type into these tags and boxes.  The payoff, thereafter, is that the labels will be working for you tirelessly across the Internet for a very long time.     

Harriete Estel Berman

 
P.S.   All of these recommendations depend on having great photographic images and understanding digital images. The Professional Guidelines has a new document titled Working with Digital Images Effectively. Use this document as a checklist or guide. If you don't know how to work with digital images, take a class at your local high school or college offering adult education classes. Also, LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)  offers a really amazing website with tutorials as a subscription. Knowing how to work with digital images effectively is a skill that every artist and craftsperson needs to learn and master. It is as important a tool as your paintbrush, potter's wheel, glaze, or drill press.

This post was updated on December 22, 2021, to provide current links.


Use social networking sites for visibiliy

I enjoy surfing around the Internet looking at work by other artists and craftspeople.  However, sometimes when I discover an attractive image or piece of work, if there is no supporting information, I am left disappointed.  It is like the artist didn't care to put any effort into explaining the work.  Lacking some kind of description, or at least a list of materials, forces me to guess or speculate or make up my own assumptions.

Online viewing is different than viewing work in a museum, gallery, or craft show. When online, I do not have the option of looking at the real work, walking all the way around, standing far away, and then looking close.  An online image is limited by the size and quality of my computer monitor (the 72 dpi of all Internet images) and by the quality of the photographic image posted by the individual artist.  People may even be looking at your work on their mobile phones or tablet. A description included with the work will help them decipher this postage stamp size image. 

MeasuringCompliance_600
Measuring Compliance
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Detailed information will help the viewer to interpret your images. The title, media, and materials give the viewer a better insight into the work. The dimensions give the viewer a clear idea about the size of the work. Some work looks smaller or larger than in reality. For example, in this sculpture titled Measuring Compliance (left) people often assume it is a "miniature."  In fact, it is a life-size 3rd-grade desk and 3rd-grade chair. Without the dimensions, would you assume its height is 7 inches - or 7 feet?.   Big difference!

It is also a good idea to group your work on these sites by categories that are appropriate to your work. Most sites offer some method to organize your photos. Take time to make these categories interesting.  This way if a person is looking at your albums or sets, you are offering a rich resource of information.

The Internet is your marketing and sales department.  What do people see in your work?  What do you want people to know about your work?  The Internet will speak for you if you simply provide the information along with your images.  Compose at least a brief description and statement.  You can always edit it later.     

Harriete Estel Berman

 

P.S.  In an earlier post, the following was itemized for your artwork descriptions:

Basic Label Information

  • Artist's name
  • Title of the work
  • Copyright symbol
  • Date of work
  • Media or materials
  • Dimensions (height, width, depth)
  • Helpful other tags (if possible)

Stay tuned for information about using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for maximum visibility.

This post was updated on December 22, 2021.


Superhero images - now animated

Great pun but this is no cartoon movie.  On the Web, an animated image is actually one image file that has two or more rotating images.  It can all be incorporated into one image file with a .gif  ending.  

Boston Chinese Tea Blue and White teapot by Harriete Estel Berman
Boston Chinese Tea
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

 

To the right is an example. This digital image file is titled  CaD-a.gif on my computer. The small "-a"  is my way to remember it as an animated image file. 

GIF files are the only file extension (.gif) that supports an animated image. The downside is that the images are limited to 256 colors.  But for smaller images, I rarely feel that this compromises the impact more than the benefit of eye-catching animation.  

I love animated images, it's a great way to show multiple views of one object, painting, sculpture, etc. You can actually adjust the timing on the rotating image rather easily. The rotating images can even be set to turn off after a few cycles and show only one image thereafter -- painting, sculpture, etc. 

You can make a GIF in image editing software.  There are also online sites that will make you a GIF (for free.)

Multiple close-ups plus the full view of the same artwork are an ideal application for animation.  This is one of those special features you can easily add to your website with fantastic impact.

Animated images are like a strong spice. A little bit goes a long way. Don't put more than one animated image on the same page of your website. It looks very confusing when several animated images are moving at the same time.

WARNING!  Do not send animated images in a portfolio of your work or in emails. These animated .gifs are compressed files. Because the image keeps moving it is not suitable for close inspection. The limited color selection and compression means that these images are not suitable for print. GIFs are a fantastic option for an animated image on your website, just keep in mind the limitations.

Do not insert a GIF image and change the size of the image....The GIF will not work. 

Frankly, I am not sure social networking sites will support animated images.  Do your own research. The sites sometimes say that they will accept GIF images files, but when I tried to upload an animated GIF, the animation did not work.  I have a feeling that animated images are best on your own website. At this point, I rarely use GIF images except in rare situations. 

One more issue related to animated images: Make sure you include the ALT tags (image description) in the HTML code for better SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your images.

The post was updated on December 22, 2021, to provide current links.


Create an "image description" for every artwork.

When you have selected which images will represent your work, you need to immediately compose an "image description."  The image description is a permanent supplement to your photographic image. Once created your image description can be used over and over in a wide spectrum of opportunities. Copy and paste the description into jury applications and exhibition opportunities and when posting your images online with Web 2.0 social networking like Facebook, Crafthaus, and more! In addition, include it in your own  Inventory Record, Artist Statement, press releases, and art/craft newsletters.

Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the Front Door from the Street.tihf
Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the Front Door from the Street Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

 



 

Your image description should include the following.

  • Artist's name
  • Title of the work
  • Copyright symbol
  • Date of work
  • Media or materials
  • Dimensions (height, width, depth)

Here is what my image description looks like if it were printed on an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper. CLICK ON THE BOX below to see this example clearly.
SlideDESCRIPTION
 
Sometimes I will include a very brief description of a unique aspect of a particular piece such as opening, closing or functional aspect not apparent in the photo. CLICK ON THE BOX below to see this nice a clear.

Bermanbunsdescription 

Your image descriptions can develop professional opportunities. Give your superhero images the captions that they need.  Use every opportunity no matter how small or large to give the viewer the information they need to understand and interpret the photos of your work.  

BUNSinOVEN- Bunsoven_back 

Jurors, editors, and curators always want to select the best work, but in reality, all work submitted is evaluated on the quality and interpretation of the photographic images.  Give the jurors as much insight as you can with an appropriate image description.  

For more information, use the two new documents in the Professional Guidelines to help evaluate your photos. The Guide to Professional Quality Images offers concrete issues to consider in your photos.  Working with Digital Images Effectively will assist you in practical aspects of digital images.

This post was updated on December 22, 2021.


How to "name" your digital image files for distribution.

 

 

Ruffle Bracelet Artist: Harriete Estel Berman Collection Museum of Art and Design
Ruffle Bracelet        Artist: Harriete Estel Berman         Collection Museum of Art and Design

Every time you send your digital images to a fellow artist, writer, editor, customer, store, gallery, or museum, the "name" of your digital image files can help the recipient organize your images for easy use and possibly more exposure for your art or craft.

Effectively "named" digital images will assure that your files stay together on another computer and not get lost or mixed up with other images.

A document in the Professional Guidelines titled Working with Digital Images Effectively offers solid information for the arts community. I suggest that you take the time to review this document for more comprehensive information about digital images.


 

Names for digital image files should include (in this order): 

 



Use your last name at the beginning of your image file names and adopt this as a consistent method when you send your images.

Here is an example of my image file names.  I added my first initial because my last name is common. 

  • berman-h-aol-earring.tif  (all lowercase example)
  • Berman-h-identity-chair.tif.  (lower and uppercase)


BLACKwhiteEARRINGSfront
If you are sending a large group of images that you want to stay in a particular order (not alphabetical), add a number immediately after your name.

  • berman-h-1-bad-earring.jpg
  • berman-h-2-Penquin-Drop72.jpg
  • berman-h-3-aol-earring.jpg
  • berman-h-4-candy-earring.jpg

Do not add spaces or an underscore (_) in the file name.

  • bermanh_greenbr.doc


AOL Blue earrings from recycled tin cansTry to make sure that your image names actually identify the photo
and relate to your image description.  Generic names like "Earring1"  or "earring2" make it difficult to remember which item is in each file.  Instead use a descriptive name such as:

  • berman-h-blue-earring.jpg
  • berman-h-hearts-earring.jpg
  • berman-h-eye-earring.jpg


Capital letters are discouraged in web images.
 
If your images are for a website, use lower case letters only. 

My web images are saved at 72dpi.  So I add "72" to the image file name to easily distinguish which are my web images.

  • berman-h-conversation-heart-72.jpg

This post is part of a series on improving your digital images and photography. Stay tuned for more practical and proactive tips for professional success in the coming weeks. 

RELATED POSTS:

4 TIPS to Improve Search for Your Images

Know your digital image file extensions and how to use them?

Best sizes for images and what format?How to "name" your digital image files for distribution.

This post was updated on December 22, 2021.

Identity-Yellow-Ginger Bracelet from recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman Collage side of bracelet
Berman-ginger-UPC-bracelet from tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman


Know your digital image file extensions and how to use them?

Understanding the file extensions on digital images is a fundamental skill for managing your digital images. The most commonly used digital image file extensions are:

  •   .jpg
  •   .tif
  •   .gif
  •   .raw
  •   .psd

Immediately below are definitions for these terms borrowed from the Professional Guidelines document, Working With Digital Images Effectively.

JPEG is usually shown as  .jpg and .jpeg on your digital image file names.
JPEG is a file extension used specifically for images.
JPEGs are compressed images and consequently smaller files.
JPEGs can contain millions of colors.
RECOMMENDED APPLICATION: JPGs are good for emailing images because they are smaller files.  JPG is also ideal to upload to social networking sites such as Facebook or Crafthaus.  The compressed image files are ideal for these applications because they use less file storage space.
CONCERNS: Do not send JPG images for print media such as books or magazines. The compression of the images compromises the quality of the print image.

TIFF is shown as .tif and .tiff on your digital image file names.
TIFF is a file extension used specifically for images.
TIFFs are uncompressed image files and thus are larger.
TIFFs can contain millions of colors.
RECOMMENDED APPLICATION: TIFF is an excellent format for print-quality 300 dpi images. The large file size is usually too large for email.  Instead, burn your TIFFs on a disc or USB drive and mail them (the old fashioned snail mail way) or use a file uploading service such as Dropbox.com or Hightail.com

CaD-a
California Dream Teapot
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

GIF is shown as .gif at the end of your digital image names.
GIF is a file extension used specifically for images.
GIFs are compressed image files.
GIFs contain only 256 colors.
RECOMMENDED APPLICATION: GIFs are the only extension that supports animated images which may include multiple or automated imagery. What is an animated image? It is just like the image to the right. 

PSD is shown as .psd at the end of your digital image names.
PSD is a file extension for images used only in Photoshop.
PSDs are uncompressed image files.
PSDs can contain multiple layers and millions of colors.
RECOMMENDED APPLICATION: PSD is a file extension for images that can save all your graphic design work and layers for future editing.
CONCERNS: The problem with sending PSD images to other people is that the images are usually too large to email and the recipient can only open a PSD file if they have Photoshop or a compatible photo editing software on their computer.  Not everyone owns Photoshop or photo editing software, so check in advance before sending a PSD to anyone (including magazine and book editors).

RAW is shown as .raw at the end of your digital image names.
RAW image files contain the actual data captured by the camera sensor without any in-camera processing; these are the only files containing “pure” data. Working with camera RAW files gives you maximum control; you can set the white balance, tonal range, contrast, color saturation, and sharpening. Think of camera RAW files as your photo negative or original slide. You can reprocess the file at any time in Photoshop or image editing software to achieve the results you want. To create RAW files, you need to set your camera to save files in its own RAW file format.  RAW creates the largest possible image file in your camera.

RECOMMENDED APPLICATION: Book publishers often ask for RAW files to avoid amateur (poor quality) Photoshop modifications.
CONCERNS: The problem with sending RAW images to other people is that the images are usually too large to email and the recipient can only open a RAW file if they have Photoshop or a compatible photo editing software on their computer.  The professional photographer that I use to photograph my work will not send RAW images, but he will send TIFFs.

Hope this information helps you understand digital images better. It takes a little practice to understand digital images but this is the future, so don't resist learning digital technologies. If I can learn this, anyone can.

Harriete

This post was updated on December 22, 2021, to provide current links.


Images, Marketing, and Superheroes

The photographic images of your work can be like superheroes promoting your work.  They can zoom across the Internet at the speed of light, shrink to the size of a first-class postal envelope, expand to super viewing size, keep working 24 hours a day, and show up in galleries, shows, homes, and offices around the world. 

 

Berman RECYCLE Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman in Fushia & Blacka
RECYCLE Fushia & Black Bracelet
© 2011 Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled plastic
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

This is a really important concept for artists and craftspeople to embrace.  All of us hope that many people will see our work in person, however, it is a near certainty that many more people can or will see the photographs of your work in print or on the Internet.

Your images can be in every library and every home in books, magazines, or the web constantly introducing your work to new audiences.

Champagne 5-30-07 Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman
 Champagne Bracelet
 Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The photographic images of your work are the most powerful networking tool that you have in your possession. Yet all too often artists and craftspeople are not properly using or adequately developing this "super ability" available to everyone.

 

Paddleboat Teapot Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman
  Paddleboat Bracelet with Teapot © 2007
  Recycled tin cans
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

It is a false economy to think that you are saving money by taking your own photos with modest consumer-level cameras lacking professional quality backgrounds, lighting, and other advanced equipment.  Is there any wonder that such pedestrian images are not performing as well as hoped for?  Don't miss this fantastic opportunity to promote your work.

 


If you're trying to take your own photos learn from the experts.
The 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar offered a series of lectures with tons of information that will help you take better quality images. Find them all on the Professional Development Seminar page on my web site.

 

Oreo Bracelet by Harriete EStel Berman photographed by Stevie B Photography
Oreo Bracelet  © 2001
Recycled tin cans, brass,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven Brian Photography

It is time to create your own personal superheroes!
Take a look at your images with a critical eye. This is not in the negative sense, but with the perspective of careful comparison to truly high-quality images. Are the photographic images of your work achieving the high standard and visibility that you aspire for your work?

 

 

 

Use the PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES

Use the two new documents in the Professional Guidelines to guide you in this evaluation.

The Guide to Professional Quality Images offers concrete issues to evaluate your images. Here are a few highlights covered in this document in more detail.

TIPS FOR BETTER PHOTOS:

Start with the focus, exposure, and composition of the images. Every single element needs to be exactly 100% correct and interesting. Avoid overexposure, underexposure and harsh highlights.  Don't settle for "good enough."  Just like your work, everything should be perfect.

BadIMG_BraceletW Your photographic background should be white, grey, or graduated light to dark.  Avoid distracting backgrounds such as leaves, branches, logs, stones,  or grass (as in this photo).

Colored, wrinkly, and textured fabric or paper (as in the next photo) is not a good choice either.  These stylized attempts fail almost every time because they detract from the primary purpose of the image: to have the viewer focus on your work.


BadIMG_ear_fabric272 Fill the entire photographic image with your work. A common problem that I see is that the object or artwork is too small within the picture plane (as in this image) or shot at an odd angle. Be bold and confident; fill the picture frame with your work.

 

GrassCUside72
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The close-up image should be memorable also.  The close-up image needs to convey a ton of detailed information about materials, texture, and techniques within your work.  It should be like an intimate revelation of key elements that make your work special. 

Take time to evaluate your photos objectively and constructively.  Get in-depth, analytical opinions from friends, colleagues, or your Critique Group.  Don't let them give you a polite passing comment.  Really dig deep and evaluate the elements of the image.  Use the criteria established in the Professional Guidelines Guide to Quality Photographic Images as a foundation or checklist. 

Money Game  Flower  Brooch by Harriete EsTel Berman ASK Harriete offers many posts on "superhero images."    Learn how your photographic images can work for you more effectively.  Check them out!

If you have examples of good and bad photo comparisons that you are willing to share, please send them to me for a new Professional Guidelines document with photographic examples.

Harriete

This post was updated on December 22, 2021


Do not add text to your photos!

HB61-9437
Your photos are your best marketing tool.
  Unfortunately, some artists have stepped over the line and added their name or their business name into the photo. This distracts from the primary purpose of your photo which is to show your artwork or craft at its best.  Anything else is a distraction and lends a commercial appearance that is inappropriate for fine art or fine craft.  All other information can be added elsewhere, just not in the photo. (Information for your photos will be covered in the next post.)

HB61-9252Do not add data to your photos.  Do not add your signature, date, object's title, artist's name, company name, business name, watermark, or online shop name to your photos.  Keep your photos absolutely clean so that they can be submitted for all sorts of opportunities like books, magazines, local newspapers, gallery promotions, juried shows, exhibitions, and online social networking sites.

When you take photos of your work, create a set of photos that will be suitable for as many opportunities and applications as possible.  And make your work so memorable and unique that everyone recognizes your work even without looking for the artist's name. This is your signature!

Stay tuned for additional posts on photographic images and refer to the Professional Guidelines documents:

GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL QUALITY IMAGES

And

WORKING WITH DIGITAL IMAGES EFFECTIVELY 

 

Harriete

This post was updated on January 2022

 

 

HB61-9467-W1


Your photos are your best marketing tool.

Artists often wonder how they can promote their work more effectively. There are many paths but they all start with having fabulous photographs as your number one marketing tool.  The Professional Guidelines now have two new topics to help you evaluate your photographs and advance your professional development.

The two new Professional Guidelines documents are:

Guide to Professional Quality Images

and

Working with Digital Images Effectively

Use these two documents to evaluate your photos. Over the next few weeks, this blog will offer a series of helpful hints for promoting your work with your photographic images.

Harriete

This post was updated on December 22, 2021.