Life by Selena Photography

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This is a Life by Selena Photography blog featuring recent photographic and video projects by Montreal photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. This blog is my new initiative aimed at sharing a wider selection of photos: the spontaneous fits of laughter, the up-dos and the flowers, and your grandma dancing all the young folks off the dance-floor. I’ll be showcasing new projects on Mondays and throw-backs on Thursdays, with a potpourri of smaller projects dusted in between.

9 : Aunt Magda Ceramics

Stepping into Renee’s studio, my nose was greeted with a myriad of intriguing aromas. I had never been in a ceramics studio before, and suddenly I was presented with so many novel things: a potter’s wheel in one corner, an electric kiln set to 1240 C in another, and storage shelves filled with the most beautiful ceramics. When stepping into a new studio it’s important to quickly become acquainted with the dos and don’ts--touching that kiln with my bare skin being a huge don’t.

Renee brought me into photograph her latest collection of raku pottery. These delicately exquisite pieces--cups, plates, and vases--are works of art unto themselves. Each piece is carefully formed by she slowly adding clay by hand until the piece is complete. The result is that each piece is wonderfully unique. Her delicate collection of cream-coloured cups and plates are rimmed with a luxurious gold detail that evoke a sense of elegance. Her set of brown and black ceramics have rich gold undertones. Personally, my favorite pieces were the ones which contrast a smooth and speckled grey with a textured matte black.

Renee had already established a target aesthetic for capturing her work, but it was up to me to find the ideal way to frame and light the pieces. Having recently shot so many humans in motion, still-life photography was a refreshing change of pace: I didn’t have to worry about the vases blinking. The lighting set-up was relatively simple. For my primary source, I used natural light from a series of small opaque windows set high-up on one side of the studio. This light softly and uniformly wrapped around the top of the piece. For the secondary lighting source I used gold and silver reflectors to bounce the window light back onto the piece. With a reflector I was able to manipulate where the light fell: straight-on, highlighting the side, curving along the bottom, or focusing on a particular detail which caught my eye. Within a few shots I found the best lighting for the piece. The choice of gold or silver was motivated by the desire to elicit the natural undertones in each piece. Overall, the lighting in the room was terribly low, which necessitated the combination of a tripod, delayed shutter release, and long exposure time to maintain a low ISO to give Renee the best quality of images.

Renee is showcasing her collection of raku ceramics entitled Érosion at souk @ sat November 25-29 and a combination of her functional and decorative pieces at Puces Pop December 11-13. Of course, you can always contact Aunt Magda Ceramics through her website or visit her in studio at Chat des Artistes.

If you’d like me to photograph your work, I’m currently accepting projects for the new year. Book me by December 20 for a 15% discount.

Tech Specs
Location: Montreal, QC
Date: November 5, 2015
Equipment: Canon 5diii, Canon 24-105mm, Canon 85mm, gold & silver reflector

Up Next
On Thursday I throwback to some photos from an apiary adventure.

This article about Product Photography was written by the Montreal-based product photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle.