Props for Pots


I’m going for both meanings of props in my title: “things used in creating or enhancing a desired effect” and “proper respect” (slang).

The idea of using props to spice up my pics, as well as to suggest my pots’ elegant use and beauty in your home is one I have both toyed with and ignored for years. As a former lover of the folded magazines Metropolitan Home and I.D., and current adorer of the hugely popular online design blogs Design*Sponge and Apartment Therapy, I am first in line for expecting (even salivating over) lush interiors with perfectly placed, unusual items in gorgeous environments. The idea of staging my own work, even in the simplest of ways, however, seemed impossibly time prohibitive.

Photography has changed a lot in the last few years, not only leaving the idea of a “photograph” in the dust, but also the simplicity of the single object on a grey background in the wake of staged objects in homey yet tailored settings. Retailers placing goods we want alluringly in environments we love is hardly new, but as we’ve all shifted to online reading and shopping, it’s what we expect, even for handmade.

The influence of Etsy’s marketplace, where I have an online shop and where beautifully styled images of equally beautiful objects is the norm, also made me take notice of staging. So, the time manager and photographer in me decided to let the designer and marketing director in me finally play for once. (As a lone studio potter, I wear all the hats around here.) It did take more time, but was also fun, and it allowed me to shop for props (felt pom pom flowers, soap cupcakes, and wooden flowers, all by fellow Etsy artists in this case), as well as use objects from around our home that are influences for my work like all my books. Even my own work became props for other pots.

It’s just a start, even if it’s baby steps; I’m pleased with the results. Someday when we’ve finished ongoing home renovations, I may do some in-room staging. For now, the time manager continues to breath down my neck (not to mention the potter who would like to get into the studio!). So simple staging is where it’s at for me: bits of playful added to the elegant, modern merriment to the Victorian.
Props to my pots!

You can shop for these *propped pots* at my
Etsy shop here and my Gallery store here.

7 thoughts on “Props for Pots

  1. These are great KK. But why not get rid of that backdrop? It has such a visual stigma reminding me of the jury slides of yore. I think these piece would really pop if they were shot in a more complimentary setting. But as you say, you wear all the hats, and how much time are you willing to take to pursue that perfect image. I must say that I default to the backdrop to speed up the process of shooting for Etsy, etc.

    Another point of view might be refreshing, too. I love closeups and details. Fill the frame, play with depth of field (focus/out of focus).

    Maybe what I’m talking about are two different things. fashion shoot kind of images, “real photography”, vs. the jury slide kind of image? Maybe what would be ideal is a place in between. A tableau that would enhance the form and colors of the work and give the viewer an idea of a real domestic setting, and still be easy to shoot many pieces.

    I guess it all comes down to time and resources, and hats!

  2. Hey, MK, thanks for your comments! It does all come down to time and logistics. I think most of us shoot for a variety of reasons (publicity for workshop and show venues, grants, juried applications, general documentation, online selling, website and blog updates, powerpoint presentations, postcards, and on and on) that the simplicity of a backdrop under good lighting (key point) is the most feasible answer and allows for visual as well as technical consistency. At this point, when I photograph, I try to bridge all those needs.

    The propped photos were specifically shot for my online stores, so are “simplified” in a sense, while trying to add a bit of homeyness. I definitely admire Ayumi’s approach to her Pots-in-Action shots, Sara Paloma’s beautiful bottle vignettes in her (or someone’s?) modern home, and a couple of other potters who have established a nice/interesting/unusual setting that allows for repetition. But time and a suitable, complimentary setting are elusive for me at this point, so implementing props was a step forward.

    I think a white or grey gradated background is and will continue to be the norm for a variety of reasons. Since most of my shooting relates to product photography (trying to show a pot in the best light, color and detail), I tend to be traditional. At some point I hope to do some truly styled images of my work, like in a client’s beautiful home…with a professional flower arrangement…and a freshly baked gourmet cake ta boot!

  3. Hey Kristen, These photos are wonderful and inspiring. Having always heard what a photo of a pot ‘should’ look like I have found it hard to break out of that graduated background/nothing else in the frame mindset.
    I have had several folks tell me they’d like to see the work on my Etsy site in a less boring, more ‘pots in use’ setting. Seeing your images gives me ideas and may push me to try it out. So thanks for that and for sharing your great pots and ideas here.

  4. Thanks, Ron! I think we all face knowing what we need to do, knowing what we’d like to do, and knowing what we have the time, money and ability to do, and finding the balance while moving forward and toward our goals. :-)

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