One thing that I love about doing design work is that there are so many aspects of the process to consider. In addition to drawing the patterns on the computer, the projects need to be cut, assembled and finished in order to make sure that everything was done properly. Once that is finished, the actual instructional pattern packets need to be created, which include clear and concise directions on how others can replicate the project easily. This often includes not only step-by-step photographs of the building process, but a nice presentation photo for the cover of the packet.
In my early days as a designer, I underestimated the importance of the presentation photo. While I did want to show the project in the best way possible, it was a tedious and costly process. Back in those days, some fifteen years ago, the only real way to take pictures for patterns was by using film cameras. Digital cameras were in their infancy and there were no such things as phone cameras or all of the amazing software that is available today.
That meant the process involved taking the pictures and running down to the store or pharmacy to get them developed. If I was in a real hurry, I would pay a bit extra for the one hour service that many places offered. However, if the pictures didn’t look quite right (and they usually didn’t) it meant going back home and trying the process all over again. Usually it also meant settling for something that wasn’t quite professional looking, but at least got the point across.
As we all know, now things are dramatically different. The convenience and technology of digital photography can help just about anyone take wonderfully professional looking photographs with very little cost. There are also many wonderful software programs available so that even if you don’t have your settings optimal, you can transform even a bland photo into something that is quite nice and shows off your product beautifully. With a bit of learning and practice, even I have learned to take some decent pictures.
I spent the day yesterday working on the photographs for the new ornaments I created. Since these ornaments were dimensional, they introduced an entirely different group of challenges for me. Unlike two dimensional flat ornaments which could be laid on a colored surface, I wanted to show the depth and design in the best way I could so that people could really get a ‘feel’ for them.
Several months ago, Keith built a small light box for photographing his beautiful pens. He simply took a box, lined it with white poster board, and cut holes for three light bulbs on the sides and top. This simple design works wonderfully for all kinds of our small projects and once we found the right bulbs to use, it made taking good photographs quite easy.
I first assembled my ornaments by tying a ribbon around the notches that I had made on the top of each ornament. This way, I didn’t have to glue them and I could easily slide them apart and lay them flat again for storage. It also eliminated the need to have to play around with gluing the center slot, which meant no messy glue to have to deal with.
I attached a thin gold metallic cord to each of the ornaments and suspended it from the top of the box by threading it onto a small dowel rod and just allowing it to hang. This did a wonderful job of suspending it into the white area and allowed me to take the pictures easily.
After a quick trip through Photoshop for some sizing, cropping and basic adjusting, here is what they look like:
I think they came out looking nice. In fact, I was shocked at just how nice they look.
I want to state that I am not by any means a “photographer.” I know very little of the technical things that are involved with taking pictures. I have a relatively inexpensive camera (Sony Cyber-Shot WX50, 16.2 Megapixel) which cost me under $200.
It has quite a few automated settings and I find it to be truly the best camera I have ever used. Even in shooting small items and close ups, which is what I typically do, it does a splendid job. It also shoots high resolution movies up to half an hour long and has many other features that are useful to someone like me.
I have had it since July, and so far I am very pleased with every aspect of it. I look at these pictures and I am very happy that I upgraded from my old camera.
It was a good day yesterday. I feel like I accomplished a great deal. Today I am going to continue working on the pattern packet for these ornaments and I should have it just about buttoned up. I then want to draw one more set and get that finished before the weekend update of the site. It sounds like a tall order, but I know in my head what I plan to do and if I stay focused and concentrate, I am sure it is possible.
Taking photographs is just another wonderful part of the job of being a designer. I believe that photography in itself, is truly important to the success of your project. After all, presenting what you created in the most flattering form is what is going to make it stand out among your competitors and get the attention that it deserves. It is certainly worth the extra time and effort to make things look as nice as you can.
It’s a beautiful cool and sunny day here in Nova Scotia. I am looking forward to getting started and moving ahead on my work today. I hope you all have a wonderful day too!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"