Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough
July 19, 2011
You shoulda been there on Saturday, July 9, for Gale Zucker’s Photography for Knitters workshop, aka The Real Knitters of the Hamptons. It was so deluxe.
At the beginning, while her students gently pre- and re-caffeinated, Gale re-gale-d us with an instructive slide show. She showed exquisite images that she had taken on assignment, letting us ooh and/or aah, and then telling us what she didn’t like about them. It was always something we hadn’t consciously noticed; there was always a better version of the picture to follow. Gale was going to teach us how to get to the better picture.
Here’s the thing I learned that I most needed to learn, but will be hardest for me to implement: each photo is a story. It is a story about ONE THING. To tell that story visually, you must eliminate from the photo all visual distractions from that story. So if the story is THIS GARMENT HAS AWESOME TEXTURE, one might want to eliminate, or at least blur, the adorable dog in the shot. Adorable dogs are fine, when the story of the picture is THIS IS THE MOST ADORABLE DOG. But when the story is texture-of-knitting, you eliminate the dog and figure out how best to capture the texture story, which usually involves getting some light coming in from the side of the shot and reducing the ole depth of field.
(The story: this yarn is really red.)
I also learned how to underexpose, and put subjects in shade, and bleach out the background and lots of other stuff that I will forget in a very short time if I don’t keep practicing. So, I’m practicing. I’m trying to avoid the temptations of the auto setting and the good-enough, mediocre, multi-story photo. As it turns out, this is a lot of work. Gale’s job is secure.
(The story: Sara’s shawl is ruffly. Bonus points for ruffly echo of Adirondack chair.)
I also learned that a person I have known since I was 20 years old is quite photogenic.
(The story: Phyllis Rowe’s shrug, her own design, is airy and lyrical.)
The model is my friend Karin, a pal from my college days in Omaha. Karin ended up modeling everybody’s knitting, so that they could take pictures. She was really good at it, game for any prop or pose, mohair in July, and lying on black velvet on the front porch.
I got to use a light box! I had misunderstood what a light box was, as it turns out. You put things inside it, and stick your camera through holes in it. (Never mind how I thought it worked.)
(The story: This dishrag is faded in a poignant way.)
It was a lovely day. We did drink those G & Ts.
(The story: Good snacks.)
(The story: I’m glad you egged me on to buy this old tablecloth, that time at the Tailgate Antiques Show.)
In this photo, by Susan Mullhaupt, the story is, “After 3 hours, Olive still won’t behave herself, so Kay has to carry her around like a wiggly sack of potatoes (but isn’t the lighting lovely).”
(To see more photos of the day, go here.)
A word of advice. If you are able to get to one of Gale’s workshops, GET THERE. There are two coming up in September: Fiber College in Maine (September 9-11), and The Creative Connection Event in St. Paul (September 16). It’s an amazing opportunity for amateurs to learn from a top pro, who–because she’s a knitter– understands the stories knitters want to tell.
P.S. One final photo:
(The story: A bunch of knitters are tickled to be photographed with a toy sheep named Ramble, who has been traveling the globe getting his picture taken with bunches of knitters.)