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shawnhar

Pics "good enough" for Jury submission?

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The studio I go to has a lighting setup and I purchased a used DSLR on cragslist so I can take decent pictures. My old point and shoot just would not cut it.

 Do you think this is a good example of photography I could submit to a juried show or do they need to be better than this?

 

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I'm not an expert in jury submissions but I have some expertise in photography. In my opinion these are almost good enough. Mostly the background isn't quite cutting it. I can see a crease running through a couple of the backgrounds, and its too wrinkly on the table. Someone else might have some alternatives to the background but I use professional seamless paper and don't have a lot of other ideas. The only other thing I've had some success with was shooting against a white wall with my pieces sitting on glass or a white surface, but that can bring in a lot of other issues.

Your lighting is pretty good and that's often the toughest bit! The yellow and green bowl/cup is a little dark. The second to last photo has a very distinct dark oval reflected right in the middle that looks very strange to me. I can see that probably the same thing is happening in other photos but it doesn't bother me in the others.

BTW, I love that blue bowl! :)

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I suggest a graduated background-like a tint foto brand. They come in all sorts of sizes from places like B&H photo

Its a must have for quility pictures

The above poster had it spot on-the background is poor.

Ok for e-bay but not juryied shows 

You can see mine(graduated background) which is set up right now-I took those insulator photos on that background in this thread

If I was doing pots  for shows I would have controlled the shiny refective spots more but for this subjet it did not matter

 

Edited by Mark C.

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If the pieces are small enough, a piece of white poster board from the dollar store will work in a pinch to give you a seamless white background. That said, when I bought my ginormous roll of grey photo paper, it was only $25 cdn at the camera store. 

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depends on the show. The point for the average lower booth fee shows (under 500) is to keep out buy sell but some shows will have folks who get hung up on photography. I don't get it because if I were making atistic selections for an art show I would be reviewing the work not the photography but that's me, lot of hard asses out there that make decisions. I never ask stupid interviwew qusetions either.

But I do use a gradient background and one of those fold out product tents cubes with lights. You can get one one Amazon for $150 or so.

 

 

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The main goal of this type of photography should be to show the work clearly and concisely. The lighting and white balance are very good, and those are harder to get right than the background. 

Attending to the small details regarding the background is one of those things that makes your application look polished and professional, like you’ve put some care into it. You want people to be looking at your pieces, not be registering the backdrop it’s on. Wrinkled fabric can be distracting and comes off as a bit sloppy, and it’s really hard to keep a fabric background wrinkle free, unless you enjoy ironing and laundry starch. 

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When I've juried before sloppy photos tend to jump out.I did not judge on that but I expect all the submissions to be high quality and wrinkled backgrounds are distracting. Keep in mind one looks thru photos for days on a jury usually and quality photos are the norm. 

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I've found grouping multiples in one shot to be particularly difficult--hard to get a great composition, the colors and sizes may not work well together,  and if one piece is just not as hot as the others, it will stand out!  The bland wavy fabric/background is not serving to enhance the beautiful colors of your work. I agree with Logical-whatever is casting that darkish oval has gotta go. If you have two light stands you can move them around to better control where your shadows/highlights fall, how dense or thin they are, and find the sweet spot that will better accentuate the forms...they look just a little soft...need a little snap/crisp edges.  I also wouldn't crop right up to the top & bottom edges of the form and would leave just a bit more space on the bottom than the top.     (Aren't you glad you asked? LOL..maybe it's time to demote "brutally " to small letters) 

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I agree with Mark re: the gradient background. In your shots there is no separation between the white background and the white in your pieces.

If you wanted to make a light box, you could do so with pvc tubing and fittings. For the sides, back and top a white shower curtain cut to fit works well and it is all very portable since you won't be gluing the frame together. I learned this trick in photo school 40 years ago...

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Thanks! - They have a big piece of canvas in the box and it has some wrinkles, not sure how much I can resolve that without buying some more canvas, maybe I will ask the owner. That dark oval is the aperture of the light box, the area is pretty dark and it shows in all my images,  guess I would need a white sheet to drape over me and the camera to stop that from happening.

 -Edit: Thanks for the graduated background tip! I will order one of those or swing by the local camera shop.

You guys are awesome, I kinda liked the wrinkles because they added some variation, didn't think it was distracting -nothing compares to experience! 

Edited by shawnhar

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I think the oval shadow underneath the pots can be fixed with a simple white foam core reflector. It looks like your current light source is above and to the left: put the reflector to the right of the piece and it will bounce enough light back in without creating a hot spot. 

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While you’re at the camera store, buy a can of Dulling Spray. Lightly mist the glossy areas of your pots. As others have noted, we can see the light tent clearly reflected in the pots, and it is very distracting. You can solve that by diffusing your light sources better, or by spraying your pots with Dulling Spray. Dulling Spray rinses off with water and won’t harm your pots. It’s often used on people’s eyeglasses for portraits. 

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I bounce light through the cloth of a photo cube that really helps dull shiny areas -Never heard of dull spray-I'll check it out

I use color balanced florescent bulbs-all thru amazon

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Lots of what I would have shared has already been touched on. Shooting your own work is a skill set which takes a lot of practice to master, and if you like fancy equipment, it can be quite expensive. However, for relatively little money, you can make all the diffusers, reflectors, backdrops that you want.

Shooting glossy round surfaces is going to be difficult all the time and the issues are exactly what you see, and what you DONT want to see. Hot spots, reflections, glare etc. This all comes down to moving your lights to the right locations, and diffusing them correctly. I also like to have the only light in the room being the ones that are on the pots; 3-4 lights min., 1 overhead, two from the sides, and a 4th where I need it positioned per pot. Lights get aimed at the pot so that you can reveal as much of the 3d surface as possible..i.e. dont point them all at the pot from the front....maybe 1/3'rd of the side, 2/3'rd the side, slightly forward from center, high on the pot, middle, low.....Tripods make this very easy, but clamp on lights and chairs/ladders make it easy too.

SLR's are wonderful because you can take a million pics for the same price; take a pic, check the image, adjust the lights. After doing this for about an hour on the same kind of objects (convex vs concave) you will get the hang of it.

Reflectors can be made from scrap cardboard and spray painted any color you want; the color you choose will impact how the colors in your pots reflect....choose wisely. Dark cloth on the table surface can help suck up reflected light too. Pick the right color of bulbs for your work too!

I dont know cameras at all, so those who do know how to use all the fancy settings would be better at this; a friend told me that for anyone who's camera illiterate to just use the "landscape" or "mountain" mode on your mode selector dial.

I like a gradient background, but some dont. The all white, and vibrant image look is seemingly to become a more hip way to shoot images...gradient backgrounds sometimes seem old and sleepy in comparison. If using a solid color background, try making a LONGER background which curves upward; it will give you a softer change in shadows and will help to provide depth to your images.  Use paper backdrops, not fabric....unless you iron the living hell out of it...too many wrinkles. Posterboard is bordering on the thick side for paper backdrops, but does "curve" nicely....rolls of construction/craft paper work well. Get a backdrop which is going to be at least 12-18" wider on each side than your widest work....you can almost never have them too wide.

Grouping numerous pieces in a image is generally a No no. Many shows will reject you automatically for images like that because you didnt follow their directions; one work per image...read directions for each show...they do vary.

No props in jury images; if the jurors cant tell what it is without the prop, then you should be using another artwork to apply...."are we jurying the prop, or the artwork....which is which...?"

If you dont have photoshop, take your images to someone who does, and knows how to use it. Everything from cropping and rotating, adjusting color balance, exposures.....you can fix basically anything. Take your images in .tif format, or the largest file size you can...gives you more data to adjust. Read up on application requirements for image sizes; Zapp will want images a certain size and any bleed areas to be black. Others differ.

I took my own images for a while, and even though I would do my lighting and setup the same as a professional photographer friend of mine, my images were never as good. He says its experience, I say its a $15k camera. Anymore I just go to him and pay him to do it for me. Last time he took images for me we shot over 150 slides, and he charged me about $700, which is DIRT cheap for quality images, and if the odds of you getting into a show, and making your living, go up by paying someone who is a pro, then do that. Ive paid nearly $80/slide...too much. When this friend of mine finally kicks the bucket I plan on finding someone for no more than $60/slide, fully edited, copies on numerous formats provided.

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I'm not sure people here are being critical enough.     Based on my experience, that group photo with the sponge and spoon would not be acceptable in most juried shows and should be deleted.      Depends on the caliber of show you are submitting to, but from what I know you should just spend the money and get a professional.        I know when I was considering applying to the Mississippi Arts and Craftsman Guild, the person guiding me was insistent about professional photographs. (I never applied)  Another person I know was encouraging me to submit to a particular juried show and they also, were insistent about really good photography (this shows wanted slides).

As said, it depends on the caliber of show you are applying to.  If they aren't very good shows, this type of photography might be okay.  If really competitive, I think judges might notice these photographs.  They look fine here and okay for face book or a website or even a low level juried show.    But they don't look "professional".   With a photo light box and some work, you could improve the quality. 

https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-business/tips-juried-shows/

Note: 

2.  Consider hiring a professional photographer
The advent of digital photography has made it tempting for artists to shoot their own slides and digital images for juried shows. But according to Gregg Hertzlieb, director of the Brauer Museum of Art in Valparaiso, Indiana, this can backfire.

“For example,” says Hertzlieb, “because of inexperience, someone may position the camera too far away from the piece of art, and so the countertop (or whatever the piece is sitting on) will show in the photograph, distracting from the artwork.” Hertzlieb warns that these types of easy-to-make amateur mistakes are red flags to a jury that the artist may not be at top of his or her game.

 

Edited by DirtRoads

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I didn't want to be the one to say it, but yeah, might be best to consider finding a professional photographer with experience in product/tabletop presentation. You are being judged/juried as much on the quality of the photograph as on the piece,  since they cannot see it and touch it. You are competing against other ceramists by way of how good your work looks on a monitor or sheet of photo paper. Sad, but true.  If local photogs are too pricey,  you can sometimes hire their assistants. They are often as good, sometimes better, truth be told, than the big shot.  Once they "arrive", photographers often have the studio assistant do much of the work that actually gets the job done.  Assistants will freelance at a much lower hourly rate than the pro because they are trying to break into the field. Ask them to do a few test shots of your stuff...don't just go by their portfolio. Some will also give you a less expensive per job rate, vs. an hourly. 

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Great feedback! - I think I see part of the problem now. I am applying to a small show at the nature center and a local arts festival we went to last year. These are low hanging fruit and I am applying because I thought my work surpassed some of what I saw at these shows, so I'd have a chance of getting in. There is no way some of the vendors I saw have paid a professional photographer, so I didn't really try for a "professional" look, just good enough to maybe get into those.  I have a friend that is a photographer with product experience and he will give me half price rates. When my work reaches a level that would give me a chance to get into a nicer show, I will have him shoot it for me. I'm really good a photoshop but the lighting is not something you can really fix in editing

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22 hours ago, shawnhar said:

When my work reaches a level that would give me a chance to get into a nicer show,

Your work will (hopefully) always be getting better, so waiting until you have good work, is not a good idea. Take good images now of the work you have now, which you consider the strongest; It may get you into shows that you didnt think you could get into. Better shows means hopefully better sales, which means hopefully faster growth rates. Some shows will look at your image submission histories and if you use the same images every year, they may rank you lower. Ideally you should have a new set of slides (including booth) every year....granted, Im using the same images I shot in 2017, but dont count on one set lasting you more than 2-3 years. Its just a part of the business expenses and plan on saving work that you want to photograph, and set a date every year which works well for you.....photo day should allot as much effort and motivation as a show.

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On 2/27/2019 at 10:21 AM, shawnhar said:

Great feedback! - I think I see part of the problem now. I am applying to a small show at the nature center and a local arts festival we went to last year. These are low hanging fruit and I am applying because I thought my work surpassed some of what I saw at these shows, so I'd have a chance of getting in. There is no way some of the vendors I saw have paid a professional photographer, so I didn't really try for a "professional" look, just good enough to maybe get into those.  I have a friend that is a photographer with product experience and he will give me half price rates. When my work reaches a level that would give me a chance to get into a nicer show, I will have him shoot it for me. I'm really good a photoshop but the lighting is not something you can really fix in editing

I think you are spot on! I'd just send in some clean shots. I bet the first ones are fine for those shows and adding a gradient background will help them look more like every one elses and a little more pro. If they like your work and they don't already have too many potters I bet you get in to most run of the mill arts shows and festivals. We've now done dozens of shows from small nothing ones to some very nice art centric ones that are somewhat competitive and have never been turned down.

You may have a lot of crappy low revenue shows as you start out so saving money is more important than jumping forward four or five years from now when some professional shots might help you get into some high-end show where you are both risking thousands of dollars and chasing thousands in sales and that's very likely not a small show put on by the local nature center or the local art festival.

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