TIDKT: Photography (Part 1)

When you are a self publishing knitting or crochet designer you have to be a jack of all trades (and master of all if you want to succeed) at least until you get successful enough to outsource.

Even if you are lucky enough to have a photographer friend or partner to help you out with the photography, the chances are that they will need some direction to the type of shots you need to show your creations off to their best.

When Claire Montgomerie hired Britt Spring to be the photographer for Inside Crochet the effect was immediate – a slightly tired and jaded mag became a fashion forward must-buy. By getting the styling and photography so right not only have they attracted more buyers they have attracted back the best designers (we want to place our work where we know it will be presented in its best light (and the great tech editing team helps too))

Britt with her husband (taken by Feather & Stone Photography)

I decided to have a chat with Britt to find out a little about her and get her best tips to improve your shots (whether they are for a design or a finished object)

What is your background in photography? How and why did you begin taking photos?
I come from quite a creative hippie, naked loving, family (seriously my parents met on a hippie commune)
and both my grandfathers were very skilled in photography but I didn’t know this until after I started getting into photography seriously, that was a lovely discovery though. My mother is an amazing pianist and my step father who raised me from 3 years old is a painter, poet & expert in bonsai.  I however didn’t realise my love for photography until my 20’s when i got married and started travelling with my husband.

How did you get into crochet/knitwear photography?
I have to be honest, I was never “in to it” at all.  ha ha.  I thought crochet was for the more “mature”
generation (sorry readers I was stupid).  I however fell for Claire straight away, such a cool hip
young mum with great fresh new ideas for this magazine.  I was excited about her ideas and i wanted to work with her.  Fifteen issues later and I have to say I am well and truly hooked (pardon the pun) i look forward to our day every month together wandering the streets of London bumping into famous people…. :)

Detail shot of my Islington Scarf taken by Britt

What challenges does shooting knitwear give?
Where do i start! ha ha. I have to say I am a way better photographer now, I have been pushed more than ever photographing in the snow, rain, wind.  i have come to appreciate the craft and how much time and effort goes into each piece.  I really try to do all of the pieces we shoot justice.

Which shoot or shot are you most proud of and why?
I am proud of them all but obviously there are some that I love more than others.  You remove a piece
out of the bag and you think ‘how am i going to do this lovely piece justice?’  then you put it on the model and Claire does her styling magic and Nicki does her hair and make-up magic and wow it rocks! It’s a real
team effort and none of us could do it without the other. Saying that my favourite photo is probably of Jenny the “Parisian” model who wore the “Sophie Sweater” by Rohn Strong. It was taken using a film camera which is my one true love. I think Jenny completely rocks this piece.

Sophie Sweater by Rohn Strong taken by Britt

Is there a (mental) checklist of shots that you always want to capture for a piece?
Oh yes we usually ascertain which items will be potential cover shots so we make sure to concentrate on them first. But usually it’s a full shot, closeup, back shot, detail shot for every single piece.

What tips would you give to an amateur photographer to get the best pictures of their knitwear?
Thats a good question.  For me light is the most important thing and the first thing I think of on location.
This is important also if you are not using a professional camera as the lower end cameras don’t tend to
cooperate in low light situations. I don’t use direct light unless I’m trying to be a little edgy, always back lit or in shade, that way i don’t overexpose parts of the photo and the image is crisp and holds a lot of detail. Always think about what is happening behind the subject so that you are not left with extra editing

Walton Dress/Top by Claire Montgomerie taken by Britt

What advice would you offer a professional photographer hoping to move into taking knitwear shots?
Practice practice and practice!  There is no magic answer to this one, no one could of prepared me for shooting knitwear.  I was never a product photographer so it was a major learning curve for me. For example my biggest learning curve was making sure the knit was in focus, you see I’m a portrait photographer so I’m only interested in what the face is doing, what expression is my subject making, are they comfortable?  I learnt quite quickly that a shot of a stunning model wearing an out of focus crochet top doesn’t really help the magazine :)  funny that….
Get in touch with some magazines and offer your services, you never know who is looking.

Thanks for the great tips Britt!

See more of Britt’s gorgeous photography (and maybe even hire her) at www.brittspring.com

Coming up soon in Photography (Part 2) I get Kat Goldin‘s top tips for product shots (just as soon as she has finished shooting her next book and Issue 2 of  The Crochet Project!)

Other posts in the Things I Didn’t Know Tuesdays Series.

So dear readers, what’s the most inspiring knitwear photography you have seen? (extra points for linkies!)