Friday, 1 June 2018
Photographing my Textiles
Last week, I decided to bite the bullet and get professional photographs taken of my textiles work to date. They are so hard to photograph properly, because the beauty is often in the detail, which never comes out well when you do it yourself. Colours are an issue too. The light is never balanced right and never even across the surface.
I took a dozen pieces out into Derbyshire, to the Little Longstone studio of photographer Matt Swift. Watching him in action was fascinating and really emphasised why my own photos of the work are never very successful.
It took a couple of hours to work out the best way to light them. He tried a few possibilities, each of which brought out different aspects of the textures and materials. The organza in particular was interesting. Lit in one way, you got a lot of sheen on the surface, which was lovely, but it emphasised the top layers, so that the stitches beneath were less visible: a bit like looking at the sea through polarised or non-polarised lenses.
Another lighting set-up really brought out the stitched texture of the surface: the way the top fabric has a subtly 'quilted' quality, as each stitch pulls the layers tight. This added a pleasing 3-dimensional element, but needed to be reined in to some extent, or it was more pronounced than the stitches themselves.
We played about with different effects, using my Ladybower piece as a tester. Each time he took a shot, a battery-pack the size of a small dog in the centre of the space powered a blinding flash not unlike a lightening strike. A second later, a new image appeared on the huge monitor beside me. They were so incredibly sharp you could zoom in and in and in, until tiny stitches were big as string.
Typically, we decided that the first arrangement he'd tried was the best, so he moved the 8ft reflection screen and the two big, black umbrellas, and re-arranged tripod lights until all was perfect.
Once we got that nailed, the rest was like shelling peas. One piece after another was carefully secured in place and shot through with the lightening. I am delighted with the results and would highly recommend Matt if anyone else in my part of the world needs the same thing doing.