Last year my family bought me a new, really nice camera. It has changed my life. I’m obsessed. Every time I think I’ve taken the absolute best picture I possibly can, a striking new angle or new dramatic shadow reveals itself. Suddenly, I’ve lost 20 minutes and my photo count is up by 20 or 30.
The real difference between this camera and my old one is pixels. It may sound naïve, but I had no idea that the increase in fire power would be responsible for such a huge improvement in my pictures. After all, digital is digital, right? Nope.
Doubling your resolution doubles your image sharpness, color and focus. My old camera had 12 million pixels. My new Nikon D3500 has 24.2 million pixels! I’m not endorsing this particular camera. But I am saying that, from my experience, this camera’s mega-powerful pixel count takes incredible pictures.
This isn’t intended to be a technical lesson on taking product pictures. You can easily find the dry, dos and don’ts online. Here, I going to share the composition and creative tricks I’m using to set a mood and capture emotion in my pictures.
I have to admit this new direction I’m taking with my pictures was not all my idea. I’m bossy. I live in a house full of bossy, opinionated, intelligent people. We like to joke that we have all chiefs and no Indians here. What can I say, I’m surrounded by a high, self-esteem crowd. But we’re all flourishing amid the positive energy we’re generating, so it’s all good.
Anyway, my daughter Niki suggested I move my picture taking outside and I listened. In the past, I’ve recommended taking pictures of your work in neutral environments with white backgrounds. In theory, the bare background should make the true glass colors show well. A plain setting, free of distractions should make the artwork jump off the page.
But the trend for product photos has changed. The generic backdrop no longer stimulates or engages us. Now, photographs have to create a mood. They have to project a lifestyle. To do that, pictures are taken in thought-provoking settings with textures and colors that establish a sense of time and place.
This concept is new to me. I’m learning what works and what I like as I go along.
It’s hard work toting my heavy, fragile artwork around. But, wow! I’m getting amazing results. And, I’m having so much fun learning new tricks to show off my art in interesting ways.
The best thing about digital photography is you can take hundreds of pictures for free. And you can view your results immediately. If you capture the feel you want in a picture, great, move on to the next set up. If not, simply move. Take the picture from a different perspective. Or turn the art. You can test unusual backgrounds with wild abandonment. Shoot away. Get crazy. Go for it. Have fun. I do.
Here are some things I’ve learned while taking more than 10,000 pictures in the past month.
- Shadows are your friend. Seek out dramatic angles created by the strong contrast of light and shadow. It really pushes the artwork to a new, higher level of sophistication.
- Fall in love with textures and patterns. They add visual intricacy and increased depth to your pictures. It also establishes a welcoming setting that draws the viewer’s attention and establishes a tangible mood. Place your art in front of different backdrops and see which one magnifies the beauty of the glass.
- Get in tight. Fill the frame with your art. Before taking a picture, I run my eye around the perimeter of the view finder. I want to make sure there aren’t any shapes or objects in the background that might detract or overshadow the art. Try different angles that might make the art look more exotic. Take the picture. Go ahead. You have the storage space. And it might be the one that you absolutely love best.
- Try different camera settings. I’ve been shooting every single picture in 3 modes, automatic, portrait and manual aperture. In automatic mode the camera has standard settings. It’s a great mode to establish a baseline and for image consistency for the entire photo shoot. Portrait mode is fun. The focal point is in focus, but the background is fuzzy. It creates a dreamy mood. It’s great for taking profile pictures and artwork pictures when you want the art to stand out from the background. In manual aperture mode I can play with the depth of field. If I want the art and the background to both be in focus, I select a high number like F22. If I want just the front edge of the art to be in focus, I try a lower F stop like F4.5.
- Color is not the enemy. Embrace brightly colored backdrops. Blue sky, sparking water and green grass are all winners in my book. They do wonders for your pictures. The inclusion of such strong colors immediately sets an uplifting mood that speaks volumes to the viewer.
- Zoom in. Try using a zoom lens from a distance. It pushes portrait mode to a higher level that changes everything in a good way. The only way to describe the extreme perspective is, romantic. The fantastic image lures you in and plays with your heart.
- Crop it with the camera. Select a tight composition and take the absolute best picture you can every time. Don’t rely on cropping to fix it. Of course, you’ll want to crop some pictures when you sit down and plan how and where to use the images. But I considered that a subsequent part or step of the documenting process.
- Mirror, mirror. Include the art’s reflection and light passing through the glass in some pictures. One of the brilliant features of glass is its transparency and reflective quality. Show it off with clever angles and a strong light source.
- Take it on the road. Take pictures of your art at new locations. Select different sites. Pick certain sites because they complement your artistic style. Then pic others specifically because they contrast your art. I found the more exotic sites gave me the most exciting results. Don’t worry what other people will think when they see you pulling bowls out of your bag. You’re an artist. Weird is wonderful. Embrace your specialness.
- Get down. Change your point-of-view. Try taking pictures from a low perspective shooting up at the art. It’s a refreshing composition and it exaggerates the importance of the art.
This started as a simple project; take updated pictures of my gallery artwork for my new website. But it has exploded into a whole new artistic outlet for me. My pictures no longer represent just a physical item. Now they’re living, breathing extensions of my art with a passionate sparkle all their own.
Artistically we’re always maturing and growing stronger and more excited about our creative endeavors. This experience has taught me that you can learn new, fun things if you open yourself up to the possibilities and dive in.
Wherever you are in your creative journey you’re doing great. Keep up the terrific work. Do your best, be your best and the rest will take care of itself.
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Artist Website www.LisaVogt.net
Author Website https://lisajvogtcom.wordpress.com/
New Webinar Date
Watercolor Techniques & Advanced Fusing Design with Lisa Vogt June 1, 2021
Learn how to make gorgeous, vividly decorated nature themed fused glass designs in this comprehensive webinar.
Master the art of design, pattern, and color.
Join me and I’ll show you how quickly and easily you can ramp up the visual intricacy of your work in just a few steps. I’ll share my personally developed, “watercolor style,” approach to shading and highlighting glass.
You will love the easy-to-follow instruction and seeing how to create elaborately detailed works of art with a gorgeous three-dimensional flair.
In this webinar you will learn how to use advanced artistic techniques like a pro. Beginner, intermediate and advanced fusers alike will enjoy applying the many simple, yet effective techniques I share in this in-depth, live event.
Plus, as a special bonus I include step-by-step instruction on how to use failed projects. I’ll explain in detail how to solve problems and how to ensure successful projects moving forward.
I also include my custom firing guides, project patterns and materials list in PDF form.
You will be fired up and eager to apply these new techniques to enhance the beauty and charm of your work.
My April and May classes are SOLD OUT
Sculptural Fused Glass, 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop September 21 – 24, 2021
Register today! 3 seats available.
Wesley Chapel, Florida, 4-Day, Hands-on, Class size is limited.
This is the turning-point workshop you’ve been waiting for.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like when I’m feeling the creative flow. Time flies. Hours pass in what I thought were minutes. My naturally distracted mind is focused on what my hands are doing, and nothing else. I get lost in my own world. When I return to reality, I feel rejuvenated and spiritually uplifted. That’s why I like sharing my studio space with others. I try to give them that experience and hope they feel the same inspiration and fulfillment I do. -Lisa
This class is for you! Any skill level can attend. Beginner, intermediate and advanced students alike will learn how to advance their glass fusing skills and expand their artistic style.
Join me and I’ll show you all the pro tips and tricks I use to make stunning 3-dimnesional art. You’ll learn how to combine advanced techniques in new ways to create extraordinary sculptural pieces of art.
You’ll leave class with several completed glass sculptures, my custom firing guides and a deeper understanding of sculptural fused glass fabrication. You’ll have the knowledge, confidence, and inspiration you’ve been craving to take your artwork to the next level.
Materials are included, that’s a $150.00 value!
Here’s what students from my February 2021 class are saying about the workshop.
“I feel I got the movement toward developing my own creativity this week. I was surprised that the things I already knew fit into the new knowledge I was getting in this class. Lisa is an excellent teacher who is tuned into what is going on in the class. She puts no pressure on the students when I know she could when we were dragging our feet. I was absolutely comfortable with the classroom set up and cleanliness of the studio. Will see you again soon.” -Judy
Here’s what the students from my November 2020 class are saying about the workshop.
“There is a wealth of material, tools and possible projects. Lisa is very motivating, informative, and supportive. The variety of materials is amazing. The number of projects we made in 4 days is beyond what I expected. The classroom set up was very well organized. I felt completely comfortable and safe with plenty of space and sanitizer. This class was beyond my expectations.” -Jane
“My favorite thing was Lisa’s knowledge and wealth of information. I was surprised by how many projects we made. I was very comfortable with the classroom set up and loved everything about this class. I learned so much and it was fun. My least favorite part was Friday at 4:00 pm.” -Liz
“My favorite thing about this class was the variety of glass and other materials. Unlimited dichroic! I was comfortable with the classroom set up; Lisa had lots of little personal touches that made it special. Thanks for the wonderful lunches!” -Gail
Student comments from previous classes.
“My favorite part about the class was the non-stop building and the generous amount of materials available. What surprised me about the class was how full the schedule was. Usually, you do 1 project. We did 5 in 4 days. Thank you so much for your generosity.” -Christine
“My favorite part about the class was the variety of projects we made. What surprised me was the number of projects we completed. Awesome experience – will come again in the future.” -Monica
“Instruction was clear, help was always available, and Lisa’s explanation of the equipment was great.” -Sherry
“My favorite thing about the class was the friendly atmosphere that encouraged open thoughts and sharing ideas.” -Lyn
“I enjoyed making all the projects, especially the flow piece and the freedom to be creative with our work.” -Joy
“My favorite thing about the class was the ability to see multiple pieces of art that originated from concepts taught.” -Vicki
“Lisa is very professional, knowledgeable and freakishly talented. House, art, mosaic, her work – really fun and beautiful.” -Lorna
“Incredible class. Lisa shared her artistic knowledge of color flow and her technical knowledge of glass.” -Larry
“I had so much fun! Lisa is a great teacher!” -Brenda
Artwear Designed for Artists by Artists Tell them how you really feel with bold T-shirts, Eco-conscience tote bags and sassy mugs.
Watch it NOW! Start fusing today!
Downloadable instructional videos for every skill level.
Check out my eBooks for elegant patterns and detailed fusing instructions.