Clearstory Studios art photography sample photographs


photograph of sterling silver bracelet
bracelet, Patricia Hoffman, sterling silver with malachites

Technical Notes:   Sterling jewelry and flatware are often represented well with large and diffuse rectangular highlights. In this photograph of Patricia Hoffman's bracelet, a large softbox was placed directly above and extremely close the artwork, and angled at the exact degree that the camera was from the piece. Not only did this emphasize the broad and relatively flat plates of overlapping sterling, but also made the least objectionable inevitable highlights in the convex shapes of the cabachon malachites.

Three other strobe lights were bounced off the white walls and ceiling of the studio to provide a very soft and diffuse fill light such as migh be achieved on a smaller scale by a light tent. This served to highlight further surfaces of the slightly curved sterling panels and still leave enough shadow to define their form and separation.

Another reason for using such large and broadly highlighted areas in this photograph was that the artist was a relatively novice silversmith, seeking to use the image as part of a portfolio for acceptance into RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), and the finishing and polishing of the piece was, well... not quite up to the best professional standards. The highlighting used here thus helped minimize the scratches and small pits in the surface of the jewelry, and therefore emphasized its creative and bold design rather than reflect on minor technical imperfections of process.

Many artists have told us that our photographs of their work look much better than the actual artwork itself. Although we take this as a compliment, we know it is not entirely true. Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as a fine crafts and art photographer it is not only necessary to see any piece in its "best light", but also to have the skill to allow the camera, light and final film to "capture" that beauty so that others may behold it as well.

(By the way, the above artist was awarded a scholarship at RISD.)

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