By Joanna Varney

Photographing jewellery is notoriously difficult and in the past I have resorted to paying a professional to get some decent shots of my work. So when I was asked to review ‘Photograph your Own Art and Craft’ I was quite excited at the prospect of gleaning as many tips as possible for future reference and use.



I think we have all become so used to snapping away on our mobile phones that it’s easy to forget just what a technical and complex art photography really is. It’s not until you sit down and take the time to read a book such as this that you can truly appreciate the effort it takes to produce really great photographs.

‘Take your time when photographing your work (a day or so) and enjoy looking at it and imagining how it will translate into interesting images…….don’t see it as a chore that needs to be done quickly; if you do, as with most things done in that spirit, the result will be unrewarding.’

Produced in a large, glossy, soft back format, ‘Photograph your Own art and Craft’ is generously spread over 17 chapters comprising of 144 pages containing relatively little text. As you might imagine, this book is very strongly focused on the picture content which Ahlburg uses throughout to illustrate each point made.

The first few chapters start with the basics and explain the benefits of using film/digital cameras, as well as lenses, depth of field, exposure, light, composition and backdrops etc. She also explains how different types of images may be required for particular situations e.g. Tiff files for exhibitions/display and Jpegs for website images. This is all valuable information which will save you time in the long run when submitting images to varying organisations and publications. In fact the first few chapters are so crammed with technical data that you may well find yourself wanting to take notes. (All of the technical information is delivered in a very user friendly, straightforward writing style, so don’t be put off!)


The second part of the book goes on to deal with each individual area of art and craft and includes interiors, glass, fabric and leather, silver, ceramics, jewellery, lamps and lights and also 2d work. They are not large sections but contain vital tips which are the key to success in each medium.

‘The hard reflective surface of silver needs soft light to avoid glare and ‘hotspots’ (areas with no information). Use very soft light from soft boxes and move the light away from your work, or bounce the light onto a white ceiling, reflector or wall’.

Everyone working in the world of art and craft will need photographs of their work at some stage. It makes sense to present yourself and your work in the best way you can as first impressions are vital in such a competitive market. The photographs of your work need as much consideration as the work itself and this book will help you to understand and achieve that. A great technical guide and visual reference for any designer/maker.

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