On books and photography

This chain of thought started on twitter, then I realized I have WAY more than 140 characters to say on the matter:

I’m in the process of pulling together a last minute photoshoot for the April book pattern. We’re not technically late here because April is an ugly month in Vermont, so we’d planned all along to do the shoot in May when the dandelions bloomed. But I will admit the flowers kinda snuck up on me. So Monday found me emailing friends hoping someone was available late afternoon Saturday for photos.

As before my awesome friends have pulled through, and with style. No, seriously. The person I’m working with Saturday has far more style than I do, she’s excited about modeling, AND she’s a knitter – always a plus.

The photos for this book are being done following a rather different mode than the usual book photography. I hear it’s normal for books to be photographed in one or two shoots. Just a handful of models are used, and each garment gets a short time in front of the camera. I admire those photographers for being able to produce such gorgeous results with whatever situation is thrown at them.

But we didn’t want that for our book. We knew that to capture the seasonality which is KEY to our theme we needed to shoot garments in multiple seasons. This means many shoots, many locations, and far more individual attention than any publishing house could afford to pay a pro photographer for. I’m eternally grateful that Cooperative Press is willing to let me do my own photography.

This freedom has allowed me to treat each knitted item like an indie release. I choose the friend. (hereafter referred to as “model”) I knit the garment in their size. I pick the perfect location, and reschedule as needed (see: maple shoot)

This means all our samples are modeled by normal people. I don’t generally like the “real people vs models” conversation so let me explain. What I mean here is our models are our friends. Calley’s cousin, Neil’s college buddy’s wife, my friend from knit group, etc… Our models are not pros. Surprisingly (or not) almost all of them know how to knit, at least a little. But what they don’t all know is how to act in front of a camera. And that’s ok. I have time during the shoot to help them feel at ease. I make sure there’s an activity, so they have something to do with their hands. I can distract them with funny stories because they’re my friends. They can laugh at the increasingly pregnant lady getting into awkward positions to capture just the right angle.

And I think this means every photo shoot has a little bit of our community built right into it. The essence of our book is built around locality, supporting small artists, using local ingredients, and enjoying good food with friends. I hope the little snips of our community can be seen in the photos when you look at them.

3 responses to “On books and photography

  1. Sweet. I love your detailed explanation and how personal and local the whole process is, I’m sure it will be thoroughly apparent in the photos and will make them that much more appealing.

  2. I love that you’re doing things this way – I feel like waiting for this book to come out is like waiting to meet a good friend. I can’t wait!

  3. Which is why it’s going to be TOtally awesome. :)

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