table of contents
June 18, 2007
the photo shoot
As promised, the play-by-play of the photo shoot for Knitting Patterns for Dummies that took place the first week of June in Columbus. It's taken me a while to get to it as I've been busy catching up with the author review business, being swept up with end-of-the-school-year goings on, and so on.
I've also snuck in a quick tech edit of Annie Modesitt's Red Carpet Convertible -- a beautiful dress originally designed for her friend to wear to the Emmy's. The dress has clever one piece top-down construction and can be knit to any length and covers a broad range of sizes. Annie's a teacher and designer, and chances are you've seen some of her brilliant stuff. Unfortunately, the reason I wanted to sneak this job in is that Annie's family has recently learned that her husband, Gerry, has terminal cancer and aside from the total kick in the head that that is, are fretting about making ends meet in this difficult time. So the dress pattern is downloadable for donation. Stop over at Annie's blog and get the details.
So the photoshoot was done in Columbus -- very conveniently as that meant that I got to go to the big knitting geek out that is TNNA. Kreber has a massive photo and design studio on the outskirts of Columbus. Think warehouse. And this isn't just some guy with a camera. If you think about it for a minute, chances are each day you get catalogs and flyers in the mail that are full of photographs. And someone has to make all those photos. And Kreber is the sort of place that does that. Which meant they were very organized and knew just what to do... because they do it every day. Need a bed piled high with pillows? A clawfoot bathtub? A distressed barn door? No problem. It's all there.
For each shot, they had prepared what they call a go-by — essentially a picture from a book or magazine that had the style elements they wanted to include. Likewise, the background colors had been determined and they'd just roll in the appropriately painted wall.
Mark, the photographer on the project, was a master with the lighting. Now I've done a fair amount of my own photography for Knitty and what not. And my lighting philosophy is pretty much "shoot outdoors when the sun is low; have the sun at your back and hope for the best". I know light is important, but after spending a few days with him, I have such appreciation for his much deeper understanding of how to use light. I don't think any picture had fewer than three lights and often, he put a light behind something like a gauzy fabric, a shutter, or even a tree branch in a vise. You won't really SEE any of these elements in the photographs mind you, but the fact that they are there makes the pictures much more interesting to look at.
It was also great to work with Susanne, the stylist who had come in from Michigan to work on the project. She had a great eye for the details and we had a lot of fun putting the shots together. This old chair? Maybe the caning is too much. Try this slightly taller one. A few baskets, maybe?
After maybe a day at it, she lead me into the prop room -- like a vintage store packed to the rafters with stuff. Need plastic fruit? A tea pot? A funky chair? No problem. It's all here.
That the last pictures we took do not have an assemblage of menacing parrot statues, pink telephones and fake meat is a testament to my restraint! I was fairly giddy by that point.
There were definitely some packed days, but we got through all the color photography while I was there and started in on the black and white things -- and because they shoot with the camera hooked right into the computer, we could all see them instantly and decide if we had the shot right. The folks at Kreber were very receptive and accommodating to my input, so I'm very glad that I had the chance to be there. This book has been so fascinating to work on as I've been able to see at each stage how the finished product will look. The marvels of modern publishing!