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What I'm Learning: On Photography

October 26, 2011

StacksWhen I was a kid I fancied myself a photographer. I took my 110 and then my 35mm everywhere I went. Eventually I was gifted a SX70 Polaroid and that was around my neck at every turn. Then cameras changed. Film disappeared. Polaroid was no more, and I was left to pick up the pieces.

I’ve never been one to get into photo-editing on the computer. Honestly, I kind of *gasp* hate Photoshop (I now use Elements to edit all of my photos and all that gets edited is white balance and cropping). But, sometimes these new-fangled digital 100 megapixel cameras require you to edit – especially product photos. Product photography has NEVER been my forte. I despise posed photos (that’s why the wedding photography gig never went far beyond my friends and family) and staging is just . . . gag me. Seriously.


But, this is my job now. The control freak in me refuses to give this job to anyone else, so I am left to photograph my creations and make them look amazing! Up until very recently I’ve simply used a light box I created from a tutorial I found online and can’t seem to locate again and two work lights clamped to the sides, pointing to the top. All of my books are floating in mid-air on a nice crisp clean white background. And I liked that . . . for awhile.

The problem is, my books (especially the hollow ones) all started to look the same. They are, after all, all books with text in them and the first photograph I post on my Etsy store is always one with the book propped open to show the cut-out inside. Aside from the actual text on the page, which you can’t read, all the photos starting looking the same. And I was bored. So . . . a couple of weeks ago I decided to change it up and bring in some props.

I was SO reluctant. What do I use? What would you use with a hollow book? I wanted the photo to look natural, so why would I stage a flower vase and marbles next to a book with a hidden flask inside? So, I started with the iPad books and thought about what someone might sit down at their table and use while they were using their iPad. A cup of coffee. The morning paper. I also wanted to think about my target market for these books: men. So, how about a shot glass of whiskey? And so it went. And these were the result. Though I’m not completely happy, I think I’m well on my way, and I’m liking the propp-age.

Tonight I started photographing my refillable leather notebooks and planners with props as well. Books are a little easier to fill in the blanks: writing utensils. So, I set up a handmade bowl and some pens and pencils and went about my business. I think next time, more is more. I know they always say ‘less is more’ but with photo props I think when you use just one prop (the bowl for example) it’s just accentuating the fact that nothing else is there. So, perhaps next time (and I figured this out as the photo shoot went on) fill the bowl, have a few writing utensils, and maybe even add a tall glass.

What do you think? Props? No props? Thoughts?

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 20, 2012 2:48 pm

    improving your skill is a must

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