When people ask me how I came to do a photography degree, I have to admit that the answer is ‘by accident’.
My intention was to do costuming or something textile-y, because that’s what I’d always been interested in. But as I worked my way through the first year (where we got a chance to try out different departments), I always seemed to have the most interesting conversations and projects in the photography department.
Once I started in the department properly it became apparent that I was at a bit of a disadvantage on the technical side. My eyesight hovers around -8.50 with an astigmatism and what my optician once apologetically called ‘pretty rubbish rods and cones’, so even when it’s corrected my manual focusing skills are a little patchy.
(My parents tell a story about the time when I was learning to read and they pointed to the side of a massive cargo ship and said ‘What’s the name of that ship?’ and I looked where they were pointing and said ‘What ship?’)
Embroidery makes some of this easier, I can go and bury my face in my work with relatively little difficulty, but when it comes to product photography, I have to make extra efforts to get my photos as crisp as they need to be.
Recently, I’ve started to use tethered shooting, which is where you take control of the camera through a computer. This makes it much easier to fine-tune the auto focus and check the results on a larger screen than comes on the the back of a camera.
The downside is that it takes a fair bit of time to set up a shoot – something I need to remember when working against the combined deadlines of Northern Hemisphere daylight and nursery pick up time.
It’s definitely improving my product photography, and even reminds me of shooting in large format with a black cloth over my head, the pleasing kthunk of the Polaroid back and the slightly terrifying frisson when taking the dark slide out of the back of the camera.
Plus ça change…