Cloth in Pictures

  Snowflake Runner
  Delicate patterns in white on white
are a challenge to photograph

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into each issue of Handwoven. Beyond just the weaving, writing, and editing of words, there are also the tech editors, the designer who lays out each page, the production designer who literally puts the magazine together, and last, but certainly not least, the photo stylist and the photographer who make us all look good.

There’s a lot to consider when photographing a textile for any given issue. Sometimes it’s difficult to capture what makes a piece of cloth so special. For example, the Sparkling Snowflake Runner from the November/December 2012 issue was a beautiful silk piece in snowflake twill done all in white. The result was stunning, but it took just about every trick in the book to photograph so you could see the delicate snowflakes. Chenille is also difficult to photograph because it “eats light” (as our photo stylist likes to put it) which means it’s hard to get the color in photographs of chenille to match the luxurious reality.

Even textiles that are fairly simple to photograph, like colorful dishtowels, require careful thought. How do you style them in such a way that the towels are front and center but the photograph is interesting and appealing? Sometimes we go simple: with our May/June 2013 issue we wanted to have the colorful cloth take center stage so we used neutral backgrounds and a minimal number of white props. Other times, we style the pieces to appear in their "natural environment" with cooking implements, place settings, and vases. 

Colorful Towels  
For our "color issue" we styled all
the projects very simply to let
the colors and the cloth shine 
Spacer 20x20 pixels 

And then, of course, there’s the staging and styling of the textiles themslves. You might notice that on the covers of Handwoven, we rarely show flat fabrics. Instead we carefully fold them, drape them on chairs and in baskets, and oh-so-carefully add a few wrinkles here and there. It's astounding what a difference a subtle adjustment in the cloth can make .

I’m so very grateful to have our wonderful stylist Ann Swanson and our fabulous photographer Joe Coca—who, I should add, has been with Handwoven from its very beginning. They have photographed thousands of textiles throughout the years and know all the little tricks to take great photos of beautiful cloth.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn the secrets of textile photography, have we got the webinar for you. Photographer Gale Zucker is hosting a web seminar March 18th on just that subject.

Want to learn how to compose an interesting photo where the cloth is the centerpiece? Or how to get the color to look the same in the photo as in real life? Gale knows all the tricks, and she’ll teach them to you in her web seminar. 

Whether you photograph your weaving to sell online, to submit for juried shows, for a blog, or just to show your latest work to friends and family via Facebook, Gale can help, and you can soon be styling like a pro.


Christina Garton

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