In centuries past, crafts people worked in guilds, with a guild for each craft: shoemakers, gold smiths, etc. To join a guild, a person had to apprentice themselves to a member of the guild for years and work themselves up from repetitive physical work in the studio to more and more advanced tasks over time.
Eventually the apprentice would be competent in all the skills and tasks required for practicing the craft. At that point, the apprentice would submit to the guild what was called a masterpiece, which was an ornate and difficult piece of work that demonstrated that the apprentice had mastered the craft.
Well, if I were a master mosaicist instead of a jack of all trades, I would declare Lisa Sunshine‘s Alphabet Mosaic Miniatures series a masterpiece of glass mosaic merely in the execution.
More importantly, these mosaics were designed by the artist. I think they show a great artist’s eye and a flare for the iconic.
A high resolution version of the series photo is below:
The final group photo only confirms my initial assessment of Lisa Sunshine’s virtuosity in glass mosaic art.
I really like the juxtaposition of different compositions. The overall effect of the group photo is that of a kaleidoscopic stained glass window: pure eye candy.
Photo = Shareable Art
The group photo of this mosaic series is great work of art in its own right. Think about that.
This photo stands alone regardless of what happens to the individual mosaics or the group as a whole.
The whole point was to have a series, and so a group composite photo was actually a big driver for the whole project. In some ways, the group photo was the goal.
Even for solitary works of art, the photo is still critical. More people are likely to see the photo of the art than the art itself.
Photographing your artwork could not be more important if you want to share it.
Photographing Your Mosaic
The first photos of the completed series that Lisa emailed me were flawed in several ways: oblique angles, foreshortened, inadequate lighting in both color and intensity:
It made me very happy when Lisa sent a subsequent email asking for advice on how to take good photos of the mosaics.
The following was my email reply:
I am so glad you emailed me about photos. I was trying to figure out how to tell you how important this is.
In 20 years, I think you have some of the most inspired and talented work I have seen, but you also have some of the poorest photos, especially considering how amazing the art is.
The good news is that it is very easy to take excellent photos with an ordinary cell phone, and no photographer is needed.
All the photos of my art were made by me using my obsolete Samsung Galaxy.
The first thing you need to do is come up with a tray for carrying the mosaics to the photo location with the best light. I use a small piece of plywood with a piece of black cloth on top.
The best light for photographing artwork is an overcast day or late in the day on a sunny day. You want sunlight that is diffuse and not a bright glare.
Extremely bright sunlight dulls the intensity of colors because of the glare on the glossy surface.
The color of the light source is also critical, and the lights in most people’s houses are too warm (yellow) and deficient in higher frequency light (blue).
If there’s no blue light to reflect, all blues and purples in your artwork will look duller and more gray than they would in daylight.
Daylight is best because it’s full spectrum.
You can avoid foreshortening by laying your mosaic or painting flat on the ground and standing beside it on a step stool or chair. Point the camera straight down and keep the artwork centered in the screen with equal margins left and right, up and down.
Make sure that the cell phone’s camera settings aren’t set to compress the images.
Transfer the photos to your computer using the charging cable. Or if you email them to your computer, make sure your email isn’t compressing the photos.
And so really all you need are these:
- A tray that serves as a backdrop and a means of carrying the artwork.
- A step stool.
- A cell phone
- Good outdoor light (diffuse sunlight).
Don’t try to photograph all the mosaics. Prepare one tray and keep photographing it until you get the light and the process right.
Please keep me posted.