Hi! I’m Pete Cramp, and over the next year I’ll be blogging about artifacts and how to photograph them.
I’ve always had an interest in history and the things that represent history. As a child, my parents often took us to museums, libraries, and galleries. There were also a goodly amount of antiques and heirlooms in our house, which I learned to handle, clean, and document. One of my first photography assignments was to photograph my parents’ collection of blue willow dishes. I discovered we had portions of 15 different sets in very different conditions. One of my grandmothers used to toss the dishes in the oven when cooking – they didn’t survive well. Other sets were mint. it was an interesting exercise and it set me on a path to document artifacts and collections for people.
Where most photographers chose to do weddings and portraits, I prefer to photograph stuff, or get out into the fresh air and shoot landscapes. This means my studio can be quite small. Generally, it’s a workbench in my recreation room, which does double duty, as I also use it to bind the occasional book.
So, what are my qualifications? It’s been a weird ride to get here. Back in the early 1980s, I graduated from college as a motion picture photographer, having spent three years learning about radio, television, and film production, with a few courses in still photography. I then went to college for another three years to learn computer programming and analysis. My day job is currently an IT Disaster Recovery Coordinator, which fully uses all of my nitpicky skills to document information technology systems in minute detail. I apply this attention to detail to my photography and documentation of artifacts. If you’re going to shoot a lot of anything, you need to build some good logistics systems and procedures so you can keep everything straight while shooting efficiently.
Before you say “Whoa! Has he shot anything in the last 25 years?” I’d like to point out that, yes I have. I’ve shot at least four weddings (which is why I know I don’t like shooting weddings), I’ve shot tons of landscapes, group shots, portraits of people in Halloween costumes, kids on Santa’s knees, promotional shots for the local hall, interiors of data centres (getting a good shot of a generator inside a shipping container is difficult), and I recently shot over 120 individual and group shots at six locations over a three week period in preparation for an awards ceremony (that was a blast!).
This year, I’m taking a sabbatical to hone my photography skills and start my photography business. So, many of the things I will be discussing on this blog will include how to approach the subject as if you are shooting it for the first time, assuming you already know a fair bit about photography.
I will tell a bit about the history of the object, and then I will discuss the troublesome aspects to be overcome when photographing it. I’ll usually discuss the lighting rig and the positioning of the camera for the final image, and if there is anything interesting about the post processing, I’ll talk about that. I hope you find it interesting.
You can expect to see this blog published every Monday at 9:00 am, Eastern Standard Time. If you have comments, questions, or can think of a better approach, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll try to get back to you with a pithy answer.
Feel free to explore the rest of the Artifact Photography (a division of 1350286 Ontario Inc.) website at www.artifactphoto.ca