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Having your work photographed by a professional photographer can be quite expensive, but you can get quality with your own equipment in your own home with a bit of experimenting and some helpful ideas.
Many bad photographs of ceramic work are due to reasons easily fixed.
Getting professional looking shot does take a bit of experience.
Hopefully, this article should shed some light on some basic rules of photographing your pottery, ceramic sculpture or any other artwork for that matter.

Basic requirements

You will need a good, basic SLR, Single Lens Reflex, camera with a tripod.
If you are trying to take great photos of your work with a throwaway camera you probably won't get the results you were hoping for.
Most camera bodies will fulfill pretty much the same function, it's the actual lens where you start getting great quality differences.
Make sure you have a good, crisp, clear lens, preferably a 50mm with close up capability.

Make sure you have the right exposure film type.
If you are photographing outdoors, a standard 100 ASA film will probably do.
If you are photographing indoors or in subdued light, you should think about getting a 200 ASA or even a 400 ASA film.
If you are photographing indoors with a normal bulb light, you might consider getting a special tungsten film.
Now, this is only good if you intend shooting the whole roll indoors.

Photographing pottery

Ok, this is where most people make shortcuts, get hold of a professional graduated photography backdrop like what is shown above.
This is a large sheet about 3 feet x 4.5 feet of thick laminated paper or plastic that is black or dark blue on one end and gradually fades into white at the other.
Get black fading into white, no other colors, they won't look good and will distract from the work.
If you aren't going to be doing enough photography over the years to warrant the expense, a large plain sheet of white paper, sometimes obtainable for free at newspaper printers or some other large sheet of artistic paper printed like marbled will do -- but the results won't be as good.

Indoors or Outdoors?

While it is possible to take good shots outdoors, many people make the mistake of photographing their work in an outdoor setting with plants, garden furniture, footpaths, pets and the like visible in the picture, this is not good!
You want to keep the photo as simple as possible so nothing distracts from the work. If you want to photograph outside, let's say for lighting reasons, try and set up a backdrop in a light but shaded area.
Direct sunlight will create strong shadows and undesirable highlights on shiny surfaces.

It is better to set up shop indoors in a very light room, with sunlight filtering into the room, but not directly onto the work you are photographing.
You can use the sunlight, but dampen it by tacking a white sheet or paper to the window.
If there is insufficient light available, you will have to resort to using artificial lighting with either the right film type or with filters.
If you are thinking of using artificial light, try getting hold of two 200 watt bulbs and place these behind some large sheets of tracing paper, to soften the light and avoid strong shadows.
If you are using a normal bulb light and normal outdoor film, you will also need a blue filter, but this is a very tricky and complex area for amateurs.
You will just have to experiment.
Never take photos with neon light, as this is extremely difficult, even for pros to counterbalance and you will most likely get a strong green cast.

Photographing pottery with tungsten filter
Tungsten
Normal bulb
Yellow Cast

Photographing pottery with filters
Tungsten with filter
no color cast

Photographing pottery with neon
Neon -- green cast

People who matter are aware that everyone else does, too.



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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.