Thursday, May 19, 2011

Diary of a Trailblazer: in Soviet Russia, Photo Adjusts YOU!

Oh my GOD, you guys, you have no idea how hard it is to take good photographs of things*.

I'm working hard at setting up my upcoming Artfire store, and right now I'm at the part where I take pictures of the paintings I'll be selling - several pictures of each painting, in fact.  I've hung a shelf in a corner of the bedroom for exactly this purpose and I've figured out how to achieve decent lighting, so that saves me a lot of trial-and-error: I'm now able to get a decent-quality, attractive photo of my work more often than not.

But taking the picture is only the beginning.  The real magic (and by "magic" I mean "mind-bending emotional and intellectual torment") happens when I edit the photos.

First off, the little screen on my digital camera is too small to show whether a picture I took is in focus - I won't know this until I upload it to my computer and view it in all its full-sized glory.  It's like a surprise party of blurriness!  Once upon a time I would take just one picture of a painting from any given angle and figure my work was done; now I take at least three, just in case.

And then there's the fact that my camera takes dark, wonky-coloured photos.  I always have to tweak the brightness, contrast, and colour to make things look right.  Did I mention that the type of wonkiness in the photos varies depending on the colours of the painting I'm photographing?  Luckily, I tend to do series of similar paintings, so once I figure out how the first one needs to be tweaked I can do the same thing to all of the others...but when I switch to a different series of paintings, I have to work out the necessary adjustments from scratch.

Finally, there's the fact that Artfire needs all the photos to be a certain pixel size, plus each photo should ideally be a very small file size so that they load quickly for people.

So for every single photograph I intend to upload to Arfire, I have to lower the resolution, change the dimensions of the picture, do things to the brightness and contrast, probably crop it a bit, and then save it.  Resolution/dimensions/brightness/contrast/crop/save.  Resolution/dimensions/brightness/contrast/crop/save.  Resolution/dimensions/brightness/contrast/crop/save.  Even on a good day, it's time-consuming.

Oh, and in addition to uploading photos of each painting to Artfire, I'll also be uploading a scan of each one - and my scanner has a wonky interpretation of colour and brightness that is different from the wonkiness of my camera.  So, more adjustments!

I figure if you take into account all the time spent taking and editing photographs (not to mention uploading them to Artfire and writing descriptions), I'm not going to make a profit off my work like I'd initially assumed.  The price of one of my paintings will compensate me for the time spent making and marketing it, and that's about it. 

It's still totally worth it. :D

*Unless you are a photography nerd and/or have an online store.


  1. Find someone who can do it for you so you can focus in doing what you do best ;)

  2. Do you know anyone who'd work for free (or rather, in exchange for me telling EVERYONE IN THE WORLD how wonderful they are?). :D

  3. ...or, DUH, I can trade photography for a piece of custom ART!

    Can't believe I forgot about the barter option.