Saturday, March 3, 2012

On Photographing Letterpress Products.

One of the more difficult things to do regarding Lettepress is photographing what you print.  Paper is hard to properly photograph in such a way that captures the Letterpress dynamic. Light bounces everywhere. Shadow needs to be in the right place. How many times have you visited a Letterpress site or an Etsy shop or go to someone's Flicker page,  and look at the letterpress printed image and struggle to that a deboss? or is that image embossed ?  That, or having shot your own work and uploaded it, think to yourself

 ". . . funny . . . I thought my paper was white!"

Kim Austin of Austin Press was gracious enough to permit me to tag along my video camera during a recent visit to her studio/shop down in San Fransisco's "Dog Patch" area. I have to say, she took at least two hours out of a busy production day to treat two total strangers from Central Florida like family.  I have been following Austin Press in publications like Victoria and Country Living for several years, amazed at how this little gal does so much with two iron Letterpresses and a whole lotta creativity.  She does not have the snazzy Heidelberg Windmills, no auto-feed Kluges, no Vandercooks . . . just a lot of hand-fed hard work and a way of capturing the essence of Letterpress both on paper - and in photographs.  

Kim came to Letterpress from out of a professional photography background, and when she was kind enough to take us into her backroom area where her camera and photo-stage was set up, I thought I'd better have my little handi-cam ready.  Kim has been working out solutions to problems that commonly plague any of us who have tried to post our work on line to advertise or share what we do.  How do we capture the essence of what Letterpress is?

The following video is presented to you at the behest of Kim.  I see this sort of thing as sharing 'trade secrets'.  Kim is sharing publicly, right here, the results of a process she has been working on for two years to get 'just right'.  I really appreciate the rare priviledge to be recipient of Kim's experience and wisdom, as well as her wonderful hopitality.  

This particular video is the first of two that I made at Austin Press.  The other will follow presently.

1 comment:

  1. In order to show texture of the paper, and highlight details of the printing impression, I recommend you use less diffusion, and move your light sources.

    The technique you are using with the equipment you have is creating an evenly lit, soft light, thereby eliminating all of the detail in your subject. (This is something you would WANT when photographing someone with visibly marked skin, but in this case you want detail and depth.)

    I think you can get dramatic looks by changing the position of your light sources. A quick google search found this helpful video. Good luck!