Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mas Bags - Studio Shots

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I really like making stuff. I may have also mentioned that I like to sell the stuff I make on my Etsy shop. I also enjoy writing about the stuff I make and sharing photos with you. And, truth be told, I find the whole process to be pure pleasure and good clean fun. But the photography thing? That can sometimes be a pain in the butt. Here's why:
1) I am not a professional photographer. 
2) Though I have a fairly nice camera, let's not assume that I know how to use it.
3) Finding someone to model stuff so you can take a photo can be sort of hard to arrange, and I HATE to inconvenience people or put them out.
4) Shooting during the day can be awfully hard when you work during all daylight hours (except a few at the beginning of the day, which don't count).
5) This leaves shooting on the weekends, which only happens once a week.
6) Since I oftentimes don't want to annoy people by asking them to model (see #3), I wind up modeling myself, which (unless Robb is around and is game to help) involves me standing on the street setting a timer over and over and over until I get it right. Embarrassing! But true.

That said, I made a discovery this week: the studio environment!
I had actually never really thought about it until a coworker mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, but we have a light room at our work that is perfect for taking still life photos. I've been in this room hundreds of times to check proofs over the years. It's basically an all-white really brightly lit room, and the idea is that it creates the most vivid version of sunlight that you can get indoors. Over the years, that room has illuminated many things for me on the book proofs, such as off-color sweaters, twisted bra straps on models, and many many a blotchy complexion. Once I even found stubble on a male model's chest! All of these "imperfections" get circled with a Sharpie and sent off to the printer with a note that says "smooth" or "remove."
But I had never realized that it is also a room where our graphic design department occasionally shoots still lifes for books. And so one day this week, I stayed late at work and brought in a few of my newest HeyAllday Handmade Modern Carpet Bags and a camera. Lo and behold, they were right! It IS fun and easy to shoot in a studio. It was dark outside but light in that studio, and I was in and out of there in ten minutes, thereby effectively solving all of problems 1-6 listed above.
I think the biggest surprise of shooting in a studio setting was that it can be as neat or as messy as you want. I had thought that shooting in a studio would make the bags look super sterile, but with my sort of "styling" (which is to say artfully sloppy), they retained the HeyAllday Handmade spirit.

And of course, since I know you're all wondering, each one of the bags shown here is now up in my Etsy shop. You can see more of the studio shots there, plus a shot of each of the bags on a street scene with me, because old habits die hard. And yes, those ones were shot with that same old nerdy timer. Oh, the things we do for our craft...


  1. three things.

    1. i heart the carpet bags! they're so SLOUCHY. and sort of timeless. and i wish you had one is a dusty, burgundy, corduory because i think i had a YA novel growing up called "10 days to a brand new me" and the girl on the cover had a bag like that and i wanted it SO BAD.

    2. studio shots look great! is there anywhere you could put a hook or a nail so you could shoot them with the strap extended?

    3. i think this photo shoot is missing a shot that shows the bag next to all the stuff that fits in the bag. for like size estimation purposes. plus, i know you and i know you would come up with ridiculous stuff. YES the bag holds a laptop and a wallet and sunglasses and a book and a water bottle and a magazine and a cell phone. but it also holds a stuffed dinosaur! 16 hot peppers! one sock monkey and 2 pairs of socks! like that.

  2. Nicole, this is so helpful! And yes, these are all very valid points.

    1. I will be keeping my eyes open for dusty, burgundy corduroy so that you can relive your adolescence.

    2. I know! It totally needs a nail. The set-up in the light room is this sort of foam board contraption that someone clearly built for the purpose of shooting still lifes, yet I don't know who this person is, so I can't ask them if it's okay if I put a nail in it! Grr...I must investigate.

    3. You KNOW I love props. Excellent idea. Actually, the reason I chose to do one shot with me on the street was so you could get an idea of the proportions, but miniature dinosaurs and sock monkeys paint a much clearer picture.

    Excellent points on all fronts!

  3. Wow, Nicole is so helpful! I was only going to say a) Pretty bags! and b) OK, there wasn't actually a "b".

  4. It is a pain to find someone to model something. And I have tried using the timer on the camera and a remote, but getting pictures of yourself is hard. It's great that there is a studio at work that you can use.