Four or five times a year I prepare my latest work and head out into the Suffolk countryside for a photoshoot. You may remember in August I did just that making the most of the early morning light down by the River Orwell .
I usually take 250 to 300 photographs during the course of a shoot.
Now, not all pictures are attempts at capturing the essential ‘best’ photograph of model and scarf, some are simply capturing a moment.
Putting all the doggy fun aside, it’s not possible for me to know before I get back to my office if I have got the shots I actually need. Unlike professional photographers I don’t have a laptop with me on location to check pictures as the shoot progresses. And, looking on the tiny camera screen only gives a very vague indication as to the quality of any image.
Obviously, poorly framed, extremely over and under-exposed and grossly out of focus images can be immediately deleted, but it’s not possible to tell if any shot is pin sharp until I see it on my computer screen.
Finally, here’s a reasonable photo. However, it didn’t look like it on my camera screen, but thankfully it wasn’t deleted at first glance, made the cut and will probably be used on my shop at some point.
It has been awkward finding appealing interior spaces and decent natural lighting for a scarf photoshoot this past winter and the following grey, grey spring, but, eventually, I have some new photographs for my online shop.
It always takes longer than I think to start achieving interesting shots and then there is that moment when you capture somebody’s ‘selfie business’,
and, of course, there’s always capturing the odd rather strange scary expression – at least one if not more of those!
But if you were wondering what the ‘Back from Narnia’ title was about, well, it was wardrobes. In particular, it is about a partially dismantled Edwardian wardrobe (still, as I write, in pieces) that provided an obvious gateway between 21st century Ipswich and Narnia.
Scrolling through various Instagram accounts for craft marketplace platforms, I noticed there was almost a ‘house style’ for images. This is despite photographs being selected by different platforms and originally uploaded by many different crafters. Neutral rules the day with plenty of white. Is this style just for the world of handmade, or, are some of the luxury brands presenting themselves in a similar manner?
Naturally, I looked at the Instagram accounts for Hermès, the world’s most famous brand of scarves, and Liberty, a store famous as purveyors of pattern and colour. And, it is easy to see – hardly any computer white and plenty, plenty of colour.
Now, how about an Instagram account promoting the work of specialist, artisan crafters. Displaying craftwork that is neither particularly homespun nor high-end, big brand luxury – I chose to look at the feed for the Craft Council.
Images chosen by the Craft Council do have more white than the luxury brands, but also considerably more colour than Etsy, DaWanda and Folksy pictures. I made a comparison with my own recent postings to Instagram and although I don’t stick rigidly to scarf photographs the overall feel of my account is most like the Craft Council.
Now I have attempted to put this insight to use. I have experimented adding and subtracting colour to one of my scarf photographs aiming to make the image more interesting.
Firstly, too much colour with no white in sight. Next near enough devoid of colour altogether. Then finally, a corny compromise – the colour pop!
It’s just under two weeks’ to Valentine’s Day. Naturally, there’s plenty of red merchandise filling the shops, but I’ve noticed there’s more choice than ever and if red Valentine’s cards, red flowers, red boxes of chocolates, and so on, are perhaps too traditional, you can now find similar in pink.
Currently, I do have several predominantly pink silk scarves listed on my online shop. However, perhaps a combination mixing it up – pink with accents of deep red is less obvious and slightly more memorable??
Mind you choosing a scarf that is not overtly considered the traditional Valentine’s ‘colours’, say, grey (altogether more muted with the merest hint of pink), could be just the ticket!
The English autumn has yet to turn chilly and most of my garden is still verdant with the heavy, dark green leaves of late summer, but autumn it is and the light is changing. Last week’s photoshoot certainly underscored this change for me. The full sunlight was less harsh than summer sunshine and it cast longer shadows. Happily, I have bagged some interesting modelled product photos for my new Fenella series.
And, additionally, a couple of photographs have been featured in this month’s UKHandmade Autumn Showcase pages 18 and 19 (not the ones shown above).
Now, it’s time to get working on a new design. Lines and shapes first then paint the initial background wash.
A quick drive over to a quiet place on the east coast of Norfolk for a little product photography didn’t go according to plan. Quite often the final week of May feels like summer, but last weekend we had a surprisingly chilly east wind. Growing up on this side of England you’d think I’d be used to it. Actually one year in my teens I remember being on the Suffolk coast when it snowed on the 3rd of June! So I should have known better,
but we were caught out.
I have just finished and uploaded five painted chiffon scarves to my shop. Pink, navy, orange and turquoise, it all flits by so quickly as you click around the images, but altogether it is a month’s worth of work!
And, for all those folks reading this in the UK, tomorrow,
Friday 3rd October is ‘Buy British Day‘.
About four times a year I collect together my recent work and spend a day having my scarves modelled and photographed. Every time I’ve done this I have started out with a vague idea of what I wanted, but never clear or strong enough to get instant results. But of course, nothing is simply instant and now experience has shown me that it always takes two or three hours minimum before we start to achieve some worthwhile images.
All my product photographs are in colour as if you are going to buy a scarf you want to see what colour it is. But every now and then a shot just looks so much better in black and white.
Here is a little question – is there a professional view that always prevails? Big production, fashion magazine shoots seem to take their beautiful, thin, young models and shoot them looking at best irritated, but more often angry or depressed. Are other options a possibility?
Full-face looking at the lens? And cheerful. Posed and angled? Perhaps a bit old fashioned.
And the facial expression . . . ? Blank?
Well, may I ask for your opinions? I have been bogged down with so many photos I can no longer see the wood for the trees. This handful gives a rough overview of the choices I have.
And, here are some gorgeous professional fashion photographs from the masters, Nick Knight, Tim Walker, Rankin, and David Bailey if only …
Nick Knight for Vogue 2008
Tim Walker for Vogue 2012
Coco Rocha by Rankin wearing Dolce & Gabbana for Elle 2013