Coming to have your work photographed?

When working with clients, especially for the first time, it is helpful for me to have a link to the work of the artist. If possible, it is also useful to have some snaps of the work along with dimensions (heights and widths) of each of the pieces. Further images of any groups of pieces and their layout / positions will make things move much faster on the day. I understand that it is often the case that the work hasn’t been finished long before the photo-session is booked in, however, an understanding of what we will be physically dealing with is helpful.

Before the shoot, it is good to have a discussion about where the images are going to be used and in which formats. Will they be printed or solely used on a website? Is there a need to match existing imagery or can the lighting and backgrounds be changed from what has been done before? Are there any images that the maker has seen that they would like to use as a reference?

These are all points which if discussed in advance, can lead to stunning photography. Equally, to have these discussions on the day of the shoot will make for a laboured shoot. Sometimes it is as simple as making sure that I have the right coloured background or surfaces available.

On the day of the shoot, most of my clients join me for the photography in the studio. We work together to light and photograph the pieces to reveal their texture, surface and volume accurately.

Most of my images for galleries are shot on a white background to avoid distractions. Although I like the simplicity of this style of photograph, it is not the only way to show someone’s work. Recently there has been a move towards photographing work in situ – for example on a table top or shelf – to allow the viewer to imagine what the work might look like in a real environment. This is all a matter of choice for the maker, and should reflect their own view of their work.

In an normal session we should photograph 20-30 pieces, some might be in groups. Fewer photographs will be achieved if we are changing backgrounds and surfaces between images or making dramatic changes to the lighting between photographs.

All of my photography is taken with a medium format (Hasselblad) camera which is capable of achieving resolutions of 8272 × 6200 pixels. This equates to a printable image of 2m. x 1.5m.

In the real world, this is often overkill and consequently I deliver the images in 3 formats:

• Full resolution tiffs - suitable for extra large printing or cropping to create ‘detail’ images.

• A4 jpegs - useful for most printing / advertising needs and very detailed website images.

• web jpegs - useful for websites and emailing to people.

From one shoot, you should then have all of the images you will need going forward for your website, sending to galleries or applying for exhibitions / competitions. No need to play around in Photoshop to get the images to email easily. It’s all done for you directly from the raw camera files as we shoot.

Studio shoot check-list.

This is a list of useful items to remember for the day of your photography.

• Hard drive with at least 20Gb free space (for images to be transferred on to).

• List of pieces with names and sizes.

• Reference images of compositions / groups.

• Cleaning cloth / brush