How to Document your Work
Today we will explore the importance of documenting your art. Whether you are a photographer, a writer or a sculptor, this is incredibly important.
I want to define the difference between documenting your PROGRESS and your PROCESS and why they are both essential.
In order to show you HOW to document your work, you must first understand WHY.
WHY you should document your PROGRESS:
It´s easy to loose faith in yourself if you can´t see any improvement in your work. You might have been painting, taking photos (or whatever creative passion you have) for a couple of months or even a couple years. And yet you feel like you haven´t gotten very far.
But what if you could look back to that very first painting or sculpture that you made? You would probably crinch (I know I do!), but at the same time you would be able to see how far you had come since then.
You might not be where you want to be yet, but that´s not the point. The point is to enjoy the journey and to find joy and confidence in your progress.
WHY you should document your PROCESS:
Good documentation can stimulate creativity and help you analyze your own work.
Taking step-by-step photos is great both for your own learning and for generating interest in your work. I find that my audience respond much more to the final results, if they understand how it was made.
In regards to your own learning, these step-by-step images might also help you to trouble shoot when things go wrong, as you will be able to backtrack and identify any errors.
And if you are building up your portfolio, making-off images are fantastic for showing of your skills and how you work.
HOW to document your work:
You don´t need a fancy camera or a full on lighting set-up. If you have a decent camera phone, this will be just fine for most behind-the-scenes photos. A lot of the time these photos might even be for your eyes only, to monitor your own progress.
Use daylight and a plain background. If you
don´t have a plain wall in your work space, you can use a large piece of cardboard as a background.
See this example here where I just used a black piece of fabric:
Make sure you also take photos of yourself working. A lot of artists don´t like being put on show, and I can relate to that, but try it sometime and I promise you will be amazed by the feedback. Just like your audience will respond better once they understand how your art is made, they will also relate more to you, the artist, when they see you in action.
Firstly it provides proof that the art is actually created by you, and secondly it gives a more personal touch; You invite people into your world, which for me is what art is all about.
Once you get to a stage where you feel ready to show your work off, or are putting together your portfolio or applying for art grants etc; at that point it might be time to think about investing in having more professional photos taken.
Hiring a professional photographer can be expensive. But if you are part of a creative community, you might have friends who have experience taking photos.
Consider suggestion a trade-off. I once traded a cast of one of my sculptures, for a photoshoot.
TIMELAPSE videos are also a great way to show off your process. They give a great overview of the whole process and are fun to watch.
Many smart-phones now have a timelapse function. I use a Go Pro and that has worked great for me.
You will usually need to edit a little bit, to cut out any boring bits, and you might want to speed it up or slow it down. If you intend to use it for social media, try to keep the final video under 2 minutes, as people otherwise rarely watch it to the end.
This video is an example from a body art shoot as part of the Bodies of Art Collection. The final image hasn´t been released yet, so I hope you will enjoy this sneak peek :)
Next week´s blog post will be about my recent trip to China, with Weta Workshop.
For the trip I created a prosthetic body makeup. Everything was documented from start to finish, using both video, timelapse and still photos. Can´t wait to share it with you, and hope you will find some inspiration as to how you can document your own work.
Until then, have a great week :)