Jenny Hyde is a Spokane-based multidisciplinary artist and teacher whose works have appeared in exhibitions throughout the Spokane area, in New York, and internationally. She received a GAP in 2010 to support the production of G-Train, a multimedia installation inspired by one of the most diverse subway routes in New York, and is a 2017 Fellowship recipient.
On Sunday, May 20, Jenny and photographer Laree Weaver will be leading “Photographing Your Artwork,” a hands-on workshop that walks artists through the process of creating high-quality images of their work. I recently caught up with her to learn more about the workshop, her experiences photographing her work, and her advice for artists.
What inspired you to lead this workshop on photographing artwork?
I want artists to be able to present their work in the best way possible. It’s really painful to see a good artist not be selected because of bad documentation images. Plus I get to work with an amazing photographer who makes it look so easy.
What are some of the most common things you’ve seen artists struggle with when it comes to photographing their work?
The discipline to learn about digital information – for instance truly understanding what resolution is. As an artist these days, you need to have and use many skills. Being a decent photographer is one of them. You also need to be comfortable with image editing and digital file management.
Can you talk a little about your experiences documenting your own work?
I personally hate it but I know I have to do it. I can’t always rely on someone else to document my work, especially for studio or process shots. I also have a lot of regret about not documenting work properly. Sometimes all you have of a piece or project is the documentation. I have many terrible photos of work that no longer physically exists. So I feel that while making work is the most important part of your practice, documenting that work is a close second.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned about creating high-quality documentation?
Don’t skimp on the quality of your camera or lighting. You don’t have to go crazy but invest in decent equipment. It all gets easier when you start with something good. Write a GAP grant for some photo equipment!
What advice do you have for artists looking to get high-quality images of their work but aren’t sure where to start?
Usually an artist knows someone with a good camera and lighting set up. Work out a trade of some kind to get someone else to do it if it’s overwhelming.
If you know little about photography, take a basic technical workshop or course – most frustration comes from not knowing how to use the tools properly.
Use a nice clean space or wall, make sure lighting is balanced and learn to use the manual settings on the camera. It takes a considerable amount of time to document properly. Make sure you have time and energy to document work. If you’re tired or rushed you will end up with mediocre images.
Don’t under estimate the necessity of a good tripod – you cannot take good documentation with a hand held camera.
Interested in getting hands-on help documenting your work? Join Jenny and photographer Laree Weaver for “Photographing Your Artwork” at Richmond Art Collective in Spokane. Tickets and additional information can be found here.
Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She currently serves as Artist Trust’s Communications Intern.