Let’s talk about cameras.
All digital cameras are not the same. Better camera quality will give you better picture quality. Using a camera with a higher resolution will double your image sharpness, color, and focus. For example, 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 am 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 not new to me. I’m learned what works and what I like as I’m going 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 feeling 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 100,000 pictures.
- 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 increase 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 creates 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 pick 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 your art.
Taking new project pictures of my artwork to update my website started as a simple idea. But it 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 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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Watercolor Techniques & Advanced Fusing Design
January 17, 2023
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 see how quickly and easily you can ramp up the visual intricacy of your work in just a few steps. I share my personally developed, “watercolor style,” approach to shading and highlighting glass.Using glass powders and frit, you’ll be able to create the illusion of depth and a subtle imagery that results in a soft, painterly look.
You will love the easy-to-follow instruction and seeing how I 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 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.
SHOP Great Gifts for Glass Artists
Downloadable instructional videos for every skill level.