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Photography and Juried Shows


#1

Well, it seems that the photography is, in fact, being judged, as
well as the entrant’s piece.

I guess this leaves the entrant with a few choices:

A. Hire a professional
B. Do it yourself

For those who choose “B”, it will probably become apparent that the
skill set required for acceptable results will take a little work
and a monetary investment (tome and equipment). Daunting for some, a
challenge to be met for others.

Someone (Beth, Kim??) showed the dramatic difference possible when a
busy or poorly colored background is replaced with a more pleasing
color or gradient. It’s not that hard if you have the tools, nor are
other enhancements, but…

This goes back to my original query about slides. Why slides? This
sort of manipulation cannot be done with slides, it has to be
created in the original. Doing so is far more difficult, timewise,
than working in digital. In all ways, slides are a throwback.

Digital images are as easy or easier to review than slides, multiple
copies can be sent anywhere, viewed anywhere and the images, with
the proper software, van have “notes” attached with comments. Very
simple. It all sounds like an inertia problem to me. The first big
juried museum or show that goes digital will have the others
following…get with it, folks!!!

And, doing it yourself is really not that hard.

Wayne


#2

Wayne,

You talk about the background of such photos and it seems as though
the grey, graduated background is the ideal one to go for. The
photographs of the bracelets certainly looked a lot better with the
plainer background than using slate. I have one of those light cube
set-ups with two lights and a couple of different plain cloth
backgrounds.

Would you advise obtaining or printing a graduated background and
using it as a physical background for photographing or would it be
best to photoshop in a grey, graduated background afterwards? And is
it fairly easy to do such a manipulation. I have Adobe CS3 so have
the available software.

Thanks
Helen
Preston, UK


#3

Hi Helen,

I wold go the PS route, using the Magic Wand tool. When you shoot
directly on a colored background, there is always some sort of
shadow somewhere around the periphery of the piece. The Magic Wand
tool always has a little trouble with this; or, I should say it just
doubles the time needed to make a good selection.

For that reason, I would shoot the piece on a sheet of non-glare
glass about a foot over a white background. The background should be
lit separately, over-exposed if possible. The resulting image will
have no shadows around the edge of the piece and it makes selecting
it out very easy. Usually!

Good luck,
Wayne


#4

I have followed this thread with interest because of my own
experience with trying to get photos made. I have taken pictures of
my work and been accepted into a couple of shows, but last winter I
decided it was time to have professional photographs taken. I started
asking around about photographers and found most of my fellow
students did not have photos yet, and the couple that did had taken
the pictures themselves. I asked three separate instructors at the
art center where I was taking classes and two told me they took their
own pictures, and the third skirted the question by saying that there
is “some guy up north that takes pictures if you send him your
jewelry”. I never did get an answer from her.

So I started looking on my own. First, I went to a photography
studio and asked the owner if he took closeup pictures of jewelry and
he assured me he did. I told him that I needed both slides and
digital because of the different requirements of the shows I was
applying for. At this point, he started getting a little edgy and
said he would have to take the pictures with both a film camera and a
digital camera. The problem was that he hadn’t used a film camera in
so long that those pictures didn’t turn out. This really sounded like
nonsense to me and I asked why he couldn’t take digital picutres and
have slides made from the digital photos. His reply was that this
couldn’t be done. Meanwhile, I called the photo lab and they told me
they have a huge machine that is specially made to convert digital to
slides. At one point he made the mistake (from his standpoint) of
offering me my money back, which I took and continued on my search
for a photographer after wasting 2 weeks with this guy and missing at
least one deadline.

The next person I found was a product and catalog photographer. He
assured me that his speciality was close-up photography and that he
shot jewelry all the time–even showed me examples of his work. Once
again I believed him. I sat with him while he set up the shoot, and
found it interesting how he used a large shiny black piece of
plastic-like material (I don’t know what its called) for the
background and used lights to acheive the gradient effect I
requested. What I found boring were all the off-color, sexual
inuendos that spewed out of his mouth during the photo session. (For
22 years I worked in environmental (hazardous waste) engineering with
well drillers, construction guys, field techs etc. and pretty much
have heard it all). During the photo session, I expressed a concern
about the scratches on the background and how they would affect the
pictures. He told me not to worry because he would digitally clean up
the images and would have them ready the next day. Of course, when I
got the disc and looked at the pictures he hadn’t done a thing and
the quality of the photos was horrible. Meanwhile, another deadline
was fast approaching and I needed to get slides in the mail pronto. I
spent additional dollars getting the slides made, but was definately
unhappy with them because every scratch screamed out and distracted
from the piece of jewelry. When I called this guy and asked him why
he didn’t fix the pictures like he told me he was going to, he gave
me all sorts of excuses including how expensive his rent was, blah,
blah, blah, blah…He also tried to convince me that my work
stood on its own and it didn’t matter what the photos looked like.
Anyways, to make a long story a bit shorter, I went back to his
studio and stomped my feet and blew steam out my ears until he agreed
to fix the pictures, and partially refunded my money. Needless to
say, I was not accepted into the juried show, and I (maybe
egotistically) attribute that to the quality of the photos.

Whether I like it or not, juries look at the quality of photos to
select participants. That is the process and I understand that. Like
I said earlier, I have taken some of my own photos, but it is simply
not my passion. And so the quest continues…any suggestions in
the Atlanta area?

Priscilla Fritsch


#5

Wayne - but what about things that may not look so good on grey
graduated do thes things come in different colors or is the
collective jury mind set on this grey thing?

goo


#6
And so the quest continues.........any suggestions in the Atlanta
area? 

Your experience shows the importance of going to a crafts
photographer who understands what you want and need in terms of jury
slides, and formats. Other students should take note of your
experience.

Try Larry Sanders at http://www.juryslides.com
Robert Diamonte
Steve Meltzer

Yes, you will have to mail your work, but this is not such a big
deal.

It may be helpful to shoot “guide photos” to send along, as in, this
is the upside right for this piece. Hopefully, that will be obvious,

For more on shooting your own, I have a lot of info. up on my Lens
at:

http://www.Squidoo.com/jewelryphotography

and book reviews on photography books and more at my blog:

http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com/news click reviews to see book
reviews

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#7
Whether I like it or not, juries look at the quality of photos to
select participants. That is the process and I understand that.
Like I said earlier, I have taken some of my own photos, but it is
simply not my passion. And so the quest continues.........any
suggestions in the Atlanta area? 

Hi I don’t know about the Atlanta area but I think (I may be wrong)
it’s pretty standard practice to send items away to be photo’d. Last
Year, I took my own (I think this was a mistake----hubris). The year
before, I went to a very nice man named Azad (www.azadphoto.com I
think) He took the ones shown on the Ganoksin gallery (I know you and
I are probably not in the same media but it gives you an idea). This
year, I am looking around again (not because I was unhappy with
Azad). I am planning to call Hap Sakwa as soon as I have a better
idea of when I can send him items. Local photographers (for me) were
extremely expensive. Compared to around here, these guys are not.

Good Luck
Kim


#8

Priscilla:

Whether I like it or not, juries look at the quality of photos to
select participants. That is the process and I understand that.
Like I said earlier, I have taken some of my own photos, but it is
simply not my passion. And so the quest continues.........any
suggestions in the Atlanta area?

Arghhhhhhh. It shouldn’t be that hard. I’m so sorry to hear your sad
saga. I have no suggestions for the Atlanta area. I do know many good
photogs do things in thru the mail. Contact Larry Berman:
www.larryberman.com/ and see if he can offer any photogs near you.

There are many fine jewelry/jury photogs out there. You got 2!
rotten ones.

To add to your story of woe, I had a friend get a bunch of pictures
taken, and then every time she wanted to use them the photog would
charge her more money (this was in the days of film…). My artist
friend didn’t realize that the real jury photogs just give us our
images to use as we need. She has changed photographers.

It is imperative that you find a photographer that understands what
is needed for jury images and can shoot jewelry. A product
photographer was a good call, but to not clean up his scratches was
a real red flag. You did good dealing with him.

Other thoughts:

Noel…contact Greg Lawler and share with him your concerns with
the virtual jury. I’ve only heard positives about this service.
Elaine…regarding you thoughts on having Bruce look at your
images…are you saying that while he was harsh, you eventually
came to agree with his assessment? Bruce does shoot from the hip (and
lip!).

On other reasons for professional photography:

We use our images for all sorts of marketing. I work with a show
that gives scholarships to student artists. Those students whose work
has been shot professionally or who have good images is often used
for publicity, put on our website etc. Same with our guest artists.
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a good image in many areas. It
is those great images that newspapers and magazines pick up to
feature in their stories.

Doing it yourself:

Personally, I would avoid too much photoshopping of my image. In the
Lark jurying directions they specifically asked for images that had
NOT been photoshopped at all. At a ZAPP jurying our small jewelry
images have the potential of being blown up to a 2’ or 3’ width!
Arghhh. Any photoshopped work that is not very well done could be
apparent at this enlargement. So if you photoshop do it well.

This is one of the many reasons I no longer, shoot my own images.
Shooting work is very complex, requires a whole 'nother set of
skills, and lots of equipment, and software, that I don’t want to
buy, learn, use. I’d rather let the photogs do their jobs, while I
do mine.

Goo & others:

Check out http://www.zapplication.org for one of the larger online
jury systems. The apply digitally online idea has already been
implemented by many shows around the country.

hth
Carla
www.carlamfox.com


#9

Goo,

I mention neutral gray only because it IS neutral. Sometimes a solid
color looks best, sometimes a top to bottom gradient, sometimes a
"spotlight" gradient, sometimes something else. I happen to prefer
white backgrounds, they seem to have a “clean” look ideal for web
sites, posters, etc. Others may have different ideas, or
sensitivities, but I think the judges are looking for backgrounds
that are not intrusive and support the jewelry, not compete with it.
If the background is what jumps to your eye, that’s bad!

They’d probably like to see consistency in backgrounds, lighting
style, relative image sizes (scale). IOW, a clean, professional,
uncluttered look. The psychology of color (and saturation!) is
fascinating and not lost on illustrators, but that’s another story.

One can make beautiful images including reflections or
reflection-less. One can have dramatically back-lit, low angle shots
or high angle, flatly-lit “technical” shots. I just think crispness,
and consistency without “weirdness” are what they might be looking
for.

I am capable of producing that photography as I did it for a living
for many years. My point here was that this level of skill (or
access to this equipment) is beyond most jewelers. It forces them to
create another skill set or hire it out and it is sometimes
expensive. My mind questions the fairness of that, but we all know
"fair" is where the roller coasters and merry-go-rounds are, right?

I guess it’s assumed that if you have the skill levels necessary to
compete at juried events, you have enough resources to get the
photography done correctly. Maybe that should not bother me, but it
does.

For those of you have put up with my rantings thus far, may I ask a
question? Do you think there is a market for a CD, DVD, or book
addressing only fine photography for jewelry, including the
necessary Photshop manipulation procedures? I have one now (Jewelry
Photography Made Easy" that sells well, but it is elementary and
does not get into the nuances of fine commercial work. It’s a
first-step, if you will. Do you think there is a market for a
well-done, very secific treatise, including video with voice-over?

Wayne


#10
Would you advise obtaining or printing a graduated background and
using it as a physical background for photographing or would it be
best to photoshop in a grey, graduated background afterwards? 

Since this topic came up, Im going to pass on some lessons learned
over the past 10 years of photographing my own jewelry. Mind you this
may not apply to everyone and is purely my experience, I havent
mastered the process yet, but I am getting very close. To preface
this, I have just about done it all, DIY, point and shoot, makeshift,
lighting, film, digital, etc…etc…

  1. You either have a photographic eye or you dont, if you dont, just
    hire a professional.

  2. Buy a full body digital SLR, point and shoots are nice, but
    professionals dont use them why should you. With this, get a decent
    lense.

2.a) Learn your camera, see section 7.

  1. Buy a professional gradient background (tabletopstudio.com) for
    $50 or less, get the vinyl printed ones they last longer than the
    paper ones. The reason gradient backgrounds work is they are easy on
    the eye and dissappear into the backgound focusing your attention on
    the jewelry. This is one of those make or break items, you shouldnt
    notice the background but the jewelry.

  2. Get semi-pro flashes, I used to think these were hella expensive,
    and some of them are, but ones found at skaeser.com, specifically the
    BY-160 is an AMAZING flash. Priced at $80 each, they are worth every
    penny. One will work in a pinch, two is even better. Side note on
    cool lights (flourscent), they work and ive done some great shots
    with them, but semi-pro flashes take many hours off of the setup
    time. This (just recently) single handedly changed my game.

4.a.) Stands to hold the flashes are cool, not totally necessary,
but help a lot. Making your own is always an option. Prebuilt stands
save a lot of time tho.

4.b.) Flash Meter, kinda spendy for a good one and not totally
necessary, see section 7. This will be my next investment down the
road.

  1. Softboxes, Ezcubes and reflection control. There is so much out
    there its almost a blessing. The key thing is to diffuse the light
    and control your reflections off the jewelry so you dont get any
    unnecessary hot spots and images. Ill leave this up to you as they
    are so many options.

  2. Photoshop and other digital photo editing tools. I am a firm
    beliver of garbage in garbage out. A great photo should require
    MINIMAL photo editing.

  3. Learn the many settings on your digital SLR. If you know how to
    adjust white balance, shutter speed, apeture, and ISO to get the
    shot, it will help you immensly. Also, lean to read the histogram
    that most digital SLR’s provide, this will help adjust the prior
    settings (search reading camera histogram on your favorite search
    engine). Understanding this can eliminate the need for a flash meter.

  4. Set aside a dedicated space for photography. This way you dont
    have to tear down the setup once you get it right. Second to this, is
    to photograph your setup for reference once you get it dialed in to
    get repeatable shots.

Well, in a nut shell, there you have it. You too can get
professional shots with the RIGHT equipment. Personally I had the
toughest time with lighting and background, and Ill reiterate,
semi-pro flashes and pro backgrounds will make a world of difference.

If there is a need to expand on any of this, just post and ill go
into more detail as I can. Good luck and happy shooting.

P@
www.patpruitt.com


#11

Hi,

The product you are looking for to achieve a perfect gradient
background is called VERITONE. This is what professional
photographers use to achieve this effect. I googled the product to
show you what I was talking about. Here is a link to the product
(not cheap)… you may be able to find it somewhere else for less.

http://www.canogacamera.com/detail.aspx?ID=11812

Thanks,
Aaron
http://www.aaronwilloughby.com


#12

Hi Wayne

Do you think there is a market for a CD, DVD, or book addressing
only fine photography for jewelry, including the necessary Photshop
manipulation procedures? 

I do, if not for the jury, for the Web. I am amazed how many
businesses are out there who don’t have an adequate web presence. I
think it may be because it’s a little too hard to come up with good
images, always have new products, manipulate the site itself (or have
to wait for the web guy to do it)…being able to take
professional-looking images would take work out of the whole process.
Today, even if a business is not doing any e-commerce, they still
have to have a good website up there to show potential customers
what’s what. Thanks

Kim Starbard
http://www.kimstarbarddesigns.com


#13

Hi Pat,

Thanks for your post. It was very informative. I have pretty much
everything you prescribe. I have the DSLR (Nikon D40X) and decent
flash (Nikon SB600). I have the light cube set-up with lights. I just
need to sort the background out. I will more than likely buy one and
try that and also try Wayne’s suggestion of PSing it in place
afterwards as I have photoshop and love to have a play with that.

All I need now are a few decent looking pieces of jewellery to
photograph!!!

Thanks again.

Helen
UK


#14

Wayne i cannot say if there is a market but if you do the dvd i’ll
buy a copy -goo


#15

I would certainly be interested in such a resource. I have been
photographing for many years, but always know I can improve and am
never truly satisfied with the photos I have produced - especially
when dealing with multitudes of very sparkling angles in crystals or

Sandi Graves, Beadin’ Up A Storm
Stormcloud Trading Co (Beadstorm)
http://www.beadstorm.com


#16
Buy a full body digital SLR, point and shoots are nice, but
professionals dont use them why should you. With this, get a decent
lense. 

Better advice cannot be given.

My photographic skills need a lot of improvement, but I am getting
away by using a Canon D30 with macro lens. That is a minimal setup in
my opinion. Go higher if you can afford it. A word of warning. If you
are used to point and shoot prices, make sure you sit down before
looking at professional equipment catalog.

Leonid Surpin.


#17
regarding you thoughts on having Bruce look at your images....are
you saying that while he was harsh, you eventually came to agree
with his assessment? Bruce does shoot from the hip (and lip!). 

No, it wasn’t Bruce. I will clarify. Bruce did, and probably still
does a “mock jury” workshop where everyone who was brave enough
brings slides, the staff loads them into slide projects, just like
in a jury, 5 at a time.

Then the entire audience has numbered slips of paper on which to
write comments on each piece as the slides are up.

Then the pieces of paper are organized by person and given to each
participants. So you get the opinion of everyone in the audience,
see? Bruce does not write comments.

Here are some of the comments I actually got:

#3 slide doesn’t go with the others
They don’t work together, not enough detail.
Cords are too prominent
Slides are okay, but not stellar
(more people saying #3 doesn’t go)
Doesn’t work, no KICK!
Work not real interesting, slides don’t work together, get rid of
strings
Backgrounds too boring
Just don’t like
Work on design! Then New Slides!

Okay, that’s enough. You get the idea.

I was upset at the time, but it’s all true. It was a long, long time
ago and I wasn’t really ready for that level. I did do new work and
get new slides.

Figuring out what pieces were in the slides based on the comments, I
think one of these was taken by a college friend who was a
professional photographer (of people) and some were taken by a
professional, who I won’t name to protect the innocent!

So there were two different backgrounds. Very basic error, I would
never do that now. And as you can see by the comments, the 5 works
did not go well together, they were certainly not a “line.”

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#18
Do you think there is a market for a CD, DVD, or book addressing
only fine photography for jewelry, including the necessary Photshop
manipulation procedures? 

Uh yuh, sign me up Wayne

Photography is my main bugaboo. I don’t need endless theory, I need
"do this, avoid that, click here". Give me just enough theory to put
a task in perspective. Show me the mechanics of a thing and I’ll
figure how it applies to me.


#19

Carla,

Personally, I would avoid too much photoshopping of my image. In
the Lark jurying directions they specifically asked for images that
had NOT been photoshopped at all. 

The above statement indicates a real lack of understanding of the
digital imaging process. Image manipulation is, in FACT, an ordinary
and NECESSARY part of the process of handling digital images. Some
of it happens right in the camera, and it happens because f the
camera displayed a completely unmanipulated RAW image, the viewer
would be very unhappy. Today, most professional shoot in some form
of RAW format, and that DEMAND image manipulation, and, of course,
Photoshop T is the “gold standard”.

Done correctly, the images simply look better because as they come
from the camera they are really not ready for larger scale viewing
or printing. Post-processing occurs post-capturing, but it is an
integral and necessary part of the digital process. The unfortunate
statement made by some one above (I know it didn’t originate with
YOU, Carla) is absolutely and fundamentally incorrect. In that
regard, the LARK folks are all wet, sorry. It is IN FACT not
possible to have a decent viewable image without it having been
subjected to some sort of manipulation after it leaves the image
sensor. “Photoshopping” is merely an extension of that process, done
with a particular end use for the image in mind. While I completely
agree that amateurish work in PS is obvious, well-done work would
not be detectable in the final image by anyone at LARK, I assure
you. To be kind, it sounds like a LOT of education is in order.

Wayne Emery


#20
To add to your story of woe, I had a friend get a bunch of
pictures taken, and then every time she wanted to use them the
photog would charge her more money (this was in the days of
film....). My artist friend didn't realize that the real jury
photogs just give us our images to use as we need. She has changed
photographers. 

As with any “work of art” the copyright ownership of a photograph
belongs to the person who creates it the instant it comes into
existence ( click of the shutter). Technically, therefore under
copyright law, the photographer owns his/her work, you the client pay
for a specific use of those photos. (I’ve been on both sides of this
issue, although I shoot people and events, not products.) The use of
the photos can be stated on your contract or sales invoice as being
as restrictive or as open as you deem necessary. The first time I had
my jewelry photographed by a pro ( well before I got back to
photography seriously enough to get paid for it), he made me aware
of this point, but, of course, granted me “unlimited use”. I also
include his photo credit on every postcard or ad that features his
images.

Speaking generally, photographers get paid based on the intended use
of the photo(s), including how often they’re used, etc. The client
almost never “owns” the photo, unless it is so specified in writing,
and the photographer is paid ( more) accordingly. The media, film or
digital, is irrelevant, btw. Legally, the photographer wasn’t wrong
to charge for each use, but, personally, I haven’t heard of anyone
who does this type of work, i.e. jury photos or postcard printings,
etc., to insist on it. It’s certainly something that should be
addressed before you hire.

It is imperative that you find a photographer that understands
what is needed for jury images and can shoot jewelry. A product
photographer was a good call, but to not clean up his scratches
was a real red flag. 

Amen!! Let me tell you from painful experience that not all
"product" photographers, or even alleged “art” photographers can
successfully shoot jewelry. After an ultimately expensive disaster
with a friend who proudly showed me his catalogue work for a
prominent art auction house (mainly oriental rugs and wall art - but
NO jewelry), I was very lucky to find a local photographer -
recommended by other jewelry artists - who has a real talent for it.
It’s very exacting and takes a practiced eye. Jewelry has its own
challenges, whether its reflective metal surfaces, stones, or mixed
media, etc. Whoever you engage, be sure s/he can show you proof of
this specialized experience.

Reveling in the downpour after more than 5 months of no rain - ahhhh

  • heaven…!

margery