I’ve been working with publishers The Guild of Master Craftsmen for the past few months to build all of the photographic content for a book by crochet expert Val Pierce. Val already has 22 books to her name so it’s been an interesting commercial photography commission – the book is very comprehensive and as you can imagine there’s been a lot of content to get through so Val and I have been working hard to meet the deadlines! Val has been fantastic to work with, very patient and great company as well with lots of interesting stories. As usual I learned a lot, not only about crochet! Her work is incredible to see, so much creativity and fantastic colour matching as well. You can see a lot of her published books on Amazon and she also regularly contributes to major crochet and knitting magazines. I’m looking forward to capturing some corporate headshot photos of Val in the near future so her many publishers can get a new photo of her!
There’s a lot of reasons why this has been so interesting. When I planned the shoot I determined that apart from the obvious need for high quality images for print, the consistency of the images has to be absolutely spot on and photographing the steps involved in creating 100 stitches isn’t something that can be done in a single session. That means that everything needed to be carefully documented to ensure that future sessions produced exactly the same images, so apart from the technical camera details (ISO, shutter speed, f stop etc) there’s aspects such as flash power and ratios (I used four Elinchrom flashes) and of course the physical layout of every component, their distance and height. Half the setup time involved a tape measure and micro positioning and this attention to detail really does pay off in terms of confidently producing repeatable results. If I hadn’t taken the time to document everything in the first place then it would have been time consuming to get back to a starting position for the next session. I used the same approach in post production, with all editing settings saved so they could be applied quickly to a future batch of photos. I keep a log for every shoot which is invaluable and it details the camera and lens combination, camera settings, softboxes used and flash settings. I’d recommend this approach to anyone, for example corporate headshots for a company may need a repeat in the future when new employees arrive and having precise consistency is a major factor in professional workflow to ensure a client has continuity where needed.
Although I was initially only working on the photographs of the stitches, we progressed to including the swatches that illustrate how the stitches actually look. These were shot in the studio with an overhead remote camera rigged to a slider which meant I could position everything precisely, with two large Elinchrom stripboxes providing the lighting. Again this was all carefully documented to ensure everything was repeatable and shot with a Canon 5DSR to achieve the maximum resolution and allow for some wiggle room when cropping during editing. We then progressed further to include the “set” shots, which provide essential visual separation in the book – because a lot of the time a set photo isn’t decided on until the last stage of editing, these were taken with a range of lighting and layout styles including contemporary and low key.
It’s absolutely great when you get to see the publisher’s layout proofs, everyone has been incredibly professional to work with and this has paid off because the book looks fantastic! I’m really looking forward to seeing it in print, which should be early Spring. I obviously can’t show any of the content in this post but here’s a link to the book on Amazon, it’ll be released in May.