...although you could be forgiven for thinking so from my blog. There has been the occasional ray of sunshine that has made it through the branches of the cedars and shone through the windows of our little house in Vancouver. One of those rays of sunshine was the news that my incredibly talented and inspirational quilt teacher's article on machine beading had been published in the September 2011 edition of the American Quilter. I did the photographs to support her article.
My teacher's blog is here: http://asthespoolturns.blogspot.com/ and a link to the magazine that her article appeared in is here: http://www.americanquilter.com/books_supplies/item_detail.php?id=2533. Just in case that link doesn't remain robust, it is this issue of the magazine:
Sadly, the magazine required me to sign away the rights to all of my images so I don't think that I can show you my actual, personal favourite images from the photography shoots on my blog, even though they did not use them in the magazine article. However, if you enjoy working with fabric and beads, I can recommend both my teacher's technique and her article in this magazine. I've used this technique in a number of different projects - it works and the end results look fantastic.
In terms of my contribution to this article, I did this piece of work sometime back in May or June 2010 and it was a really good, interesting experience. I was offered payment for my work but I turned it down on the basis that the learning opportunity was more valuable to me than the amount being offered by the magazine for my photographs.
The first thing that I learned was that I loved working with clients in my studio. In this case, my quilt teacher and her husband - it was a huge amount of fun. It also led me to acquire a photography reflector holder so that any future clients do not have to spend the day holding a reflector - just so - for each photograph. My quilt teacher's husband earnt his stripes that day.
The second thing that I learned was how much work goes into step-by-step photography. The magazine required approximately 100, magazine ready, supporting images for the article. I suspect that I thinned the final cut down to about 150 finished images? Trust me, I took a lot more photographs than that during the course of the project. In the end, the magazine used 13 of my images.
The project took three, one day studio shoots plus a further half day at my house to create some contextual, lifestyle type images. For each step in the tutorial, I took a series of different images in both landscape and portrait format (to give the magazine layout options). Once I'd thinned them down to a logical series of possible images, I had to colour correct them all, pretty much individually. My camera wouldn't read one of the project's fabric colours correctly (a green, which it stubbornly turned different shades of yellow) and at that point, I did not have any specialist colour correction tools and software.
This was another very big learning point for me. Do not attempt any kind of product photography work without proper colour correction tools. Particularly when you are doing work in a world where colour is really important (fabric and yarn). I own one of these tools now and I use it religiously in the studio and during post-production work. It was one of the first things that I bought after I'd spent hours at the computer painstakingly trying to correct my 150 final images by eye. In the end, I had to aim to green up the yellows and get them as consistent as possible with each other. So, if you spot any colour inconsistencies in the magazine images - I apologise, but trust me - I really tried very hard to get them all the same shade.
Otherwise, the final thing that I learned is that it's very odd seeing work that you have done in print, so long after it was completed. It was over a year between doing the work and seeing it in print. It was very exciting to receive the news about the article being published, race out, buy copies of the magazine and see my first ever work in print. At the same time, I've learnt so much about product photography since doing this project last year (I enjoyed this project so much that I took a formal course in product photography) that it's difficult for me to look back at my work without being very critical about my images. I still worry whether or not my quilt teacher was okay with my work and I hope very much that she felt that my images supported her article adequately.
I am not sure how many opportunities like this will come along in future. I hope that more do - simply because I enjoyed working on this project so much. It is possible that my quilt teacher will write some more sewing and quilting articles (as a sewer, I really hope so) but from reading her blog and seeing how well she captures work in progress with her own camera these days, I expect that she will be able to take care of her own photography in future!
P.s. 37 Weeks - so technically, I have 3 weeks until Spud arrives. All I can tell you is that I have a very wriggly tummy!