Thursday, November 22, 2012

Strike a Pose

One thing the knitting world (should have) learned from the internet is that the way knitwear is photographed can make or break a pattern. Countless times, I've been uninspired by a picture in a book or magazine, only to be rocked by seeing fresh pictures in the project pages. Unfortunately, sometimes I see a pattern and get interested, only to be frustrated by poor photo decisions. I’m not talking about individual Raveler’s pictures. We can’t all be great picture takers, and Lord knows I have dashed off some really bad finished object pictures in my time. For designers though, especially those who have hopes of breaking into designing as a career, it is a little heartbreaking to see bad pictures.

Designers, I love you! I want to see you get paid for your hard work so that you can support yourself and keep selling me patterns that I am unlikely to ever knit! You don’t need to hire a famous photographer and go on location to the Shetland Islands to effectively hock your designs. You do, however, need to exercise some common sense.

And of course, I have some advice for you:

1)      Limit your artsy, far off, scenery filled photos. If you’ve gone to the trouble to find a beautiful, atmospheric landscape to shoot your item in, I understand the compulsion to take 50,000 beautiful, atmospheric photos to show how much trouble you went to. Resist this urge.

2)      Photographing a sweater? Show the head! Headless mannequins are creepy. So are headless models.

3)      Be careful with crazy poses. In Knitting in Plain English, Maggie Righetti warns of knitting patterns in magazines where the model is standing in some convoluted fashion. If the model is, for instance, holding her arms above her head, she is probably trying to disguise the fact that as knit, the sleeves go down to her knees. Once you know this, it changes the way you look at photographed knitwear. A photo can show so much, but also deceive so much. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having some fun shots. I like to see some movement in the pictures. But, make sure that somewhere in your group of pictures there are some straight up, all natural poses. If all of your pictures show the model doing cartwheels and hanging upside down, I immediately get suspicious. Maybe I’m being paranoid and there’s nothing wrong with the pattern at all… but the onus is on you to show me that.

4)      Don’t put too many pictures on the main project page. It’s supposed to be a small sampling of photographs, not a gallery. Per the Ravelry guidelines for pattern editors on Selecting Pattern Photos, there should only be a maximum of three. (I have to confess, this made me LOL. When have you EVER seen this rule adhered to?) Maybe three is a little stringent, but surely you could pare it down to 5 or 6. The main thing is, show a good assortment of shots. 

5)      MOST IMPORTANTLY - If you have a cool and clever detail in the pattern, show it to me! You can have the most innovative pattern design in the world, but if I can't see it, I have no way of knowing.

Just like how reading more books can make you a better writer, I believe that exposing yourself to more patterns and more pictures can make you a better photographer. Look at the work of some of your favorite designers and see what you like, and what you don't like. Keep an open mind! Better pictures mean happier knitting for everyone!

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