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The Photo Thing

woven bangles

Handwoven bangles. This was non-digital slide format.

woven textile

Photographed with early digital camera. Same styling as older work

Today is the day to reveal my small workings for the photo thing. See the other posts at Picture-Perfect. Thanks to Meg Nakagawa for this opportunity. I kept mistyping the photo thing to the photo think and I think that is pretty right in my case. I’ve photographed my textiles for a long time. Photo shoots used to take all day with special blue lights or greaseproof paper on a window – no digital camerato check what you just shot. Just lists that might be compared to the processed photos but usually not. It was like feeling my way in a dark cave.

woven textiles

A moment in time. Fresh off the loom waiting for purpose.

Well now with digital photos we can just snap all over the place until one looks ok. But photography, the how and why we photograph is changing again. The studied shots based on limited film and money to process encouraged making every shot count for a reason. The styling had a longevity to it as though each textile will last the distance and have an eternal quality. The time involved in the shot also transferred the idea of skill in the textile as meaningful in time.

rotary clothes hoist

Telling stories – Juxtaposing textiles with other objects of meaning- the loved clothes line. Domesticity is cool?

textile with drama

A dramatic PS action on a textile photo emphasizing the best feature of the work to create an pre-determined emotional response.

We are viewing time quite differently now. Skills of the hand aren’t perceived as important (at least where I live)  and are deteriorating…they involve a commitment to time. Even skills in trades that we once thought were a given are no longer there. Styling, ideas, possible superficiality and evocative effects are more the go. Trying to get an idea or emotion across in an easy snapshot of time sometimes mixed with a story… standing still for just that moment until swallowed by the feed.


Conveying the wonder of threads in the weaving process.

With my textile photography now I try to convey an emotion more than one of capturing beauty and eternalism. It’s fun, rather easy to do and very accessible but lacks the depth and time of previous photography. It’s momentary, throw away, fleeting. However I’m only referring to the imagery not necessarily the woven cloth itself! I don’t consider myself a photographer at all, but use the camera to convey my great wonder and almost spiritual respect for handweaving and its processes. And I realise I’m following trend in often styling a desired response from the viewer. This is where actions and filters sometimes do the work for me. Taking advantage of mathematical pixel manipulation designed by someone else creates art styling at a touch of a button. We have the ability with PhotoShop actions and  filters to control or aim to control the viewer’s response to the imagery. This focus can be on ourselves rather than trusting others with their own interpretations and letting the cloth speak for itself. Our era will be so marked by this. We are all little marketers; usually of ourselves. We want to shape others opinions of us with snapshots of emotional style. Capturing a moment just so.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kaz, those bangles are amazing!

    November 15, 2014
  2. Meg #

    I never thought of evoking/manipulating a certain emotional response from photos of my cloth. This is interesting. I often want to show what I see in my cloth first and foremost, (which I think is often an overall/general/holistic feel of the piece,) and then some interesting bits in the pattern or nice colors. Whereas with other weavers’ pictures, I usually see specific components first, and then the cloth as a whole, so in the first instance it’s less emotional, and with some cloth the techniques are overwhelming that I don’t get to the overall/emotional response. (My Randall Darwall scarf – even after all these years.)

    I do everything so slowly that film/digital hasn’t changed the time I need to shoot and produce one good photo, or setting up or even mentally preparing in general and then deciding what I want to show of a particular piece. But I do appreciate we can see it immediately AND that we get to manipulate it, cropping being one of the most important to me. (As a kid, I used to cut to crop my printed photos of flowers.)

    I think there is a lot of Ben’s influence in that although there are strange and new things we can do digitally, we basically hope to shoot well then “amend” by manipulation, just as I did in the dark room eons ago, so in that respect we’re still using the digital technology as an extension of film, perhaps. That said, the speed allows me to take, see and process more pictures in a given time, and whereas I couldn’t remember how I took photos by the time I picked up the prints, (I didn’t take notes,) with digital I can change the aperture, for e.g. and see the difference right away. This is good for an impatient, forgetful person like myself.

    I still enjoy a good, slow day of photo shoots, though, even though they are hard and I may not get anything out of it.

    November 15, 2014
  3. Meg #

    Your dramatic PC action shot; even though it may not be a photo to show off your handwoven cloth, it has a painting-like quality, doesn’t it, and begets a life of its own as a photograph/artwork. And I guess we didn’t used to have easy access to such manipulation in the film days. So digital technology allows us to become Renaissance women? Does that makes us fragmented or shallow? I know it depends on the individual, but what, in general, does the availability of different techniques mean, when many people can get our hands on many things relatively easily??

    November 15, 2014
  4. Thanks Meg
    There are so many things to think about isn’t there. Photos of our work can be manipulated images which become something quite different – a different art form/craft. In all cases we are capturing the existence of our work although most of us can’t wear or feel its tactility. I guess my comments are also directed at web imagery rather than print as that is the one I work with most. The availability of different technology enables change and possibilities for new purposes as people work with it.
    Thanks for the opportunity to think about this and wonder about what I do!

    November 15, 2014
  5. Meg #

    I do love your bracelet shot the best. I like seeing shots like that, and (trying to) takes ones like that. And because I try shooting like that, I can see when it’s worked really well, sometimes even what’s worked well. Really good “overall”/”product” shots, on the other hand, I can sense good ones from bad ones, but I can’t point out what’s worked. More practice required. :-<

    November 15, 2014
  6. The marketing aspect challenges me because I approach textiles as a maker rather than as a consumer – in fact, the whole world of ‘consumption’ challenges me, I think! Anyway, much food for thought here as well as fascinating images – thanks, Kaz!

    November 16, 2014
  7. Thanks Margery – I loved making bangles but alas they didn’t sell so I lost interest!
    Thanks Cally – the marketing aspect of what we do is a difficult one for me too. I read lately that “craft is not art. It must be sold” To flourish and make its mark for others to understand and appreciate this is probably right. But it depends where we want our making to go I guess.

    November 17, 2014
  8. Very interesting post Kaz – along with some great images. I must say, for me, the standout is the PS dramatic image. It is very evocative and it is much more than the cloth itself. That said, the bangles in the non-digital slide format is also beautifully photographed. I have always preferred the slide film medium to positive prints from a neg. Somehow the slide neg has a depth and richness about it still!

    November 30, 2014

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