Monday, June 29, 2009

Our Dyeing Days

An inside look at a photo shoot for our upcoming book, Hand-Dyeing Yarn and Fleece

Photographer John Polak (in rear); Lisa Newman, our stylist (right);
and I, the art director,
puzzling out a shot that perhaps
is not quite there yet
(photo taken sneakily by Gail Callahan
when we were too engrossed to notice)

One by one we arrived at photo stylist Lisa Newman’s house, our arms full . . . well, except for mine. As art director I brought only some rough layouts, a shot list, and a healthy curiosity. The author, Gail Callahan, arrived with baskets of yarn and fleece, various type of dyes, and several bags with tools and other gizmos. The photographer, John Polak, had the usual array of camera equipment, a ladder, scrim material, and plenty of duct tape.

But it was Gwen Steege, the editor, who saved the day, as she arrived with a box of blue vinyl gloves she had scored earlier that morning from her dentist. Dyers need to protect their hands while working, and the color and fit were all-important, as those gloves would turn up in almost every how-to photograph that we took.

John photographed our author (not Gwen’s dentist)
measuring dyes with a gloved hand.

Lisa’s friend Gloria Pacosa brought over a couple of cheerful oilcloth aprons for the author and editor to wear during the dyeing how-to sequences; these ultimately set the mood for this book project. I found myself happily immersed in art while directing the shoot, as I watched the happy dyers, Gwen and Gail, collaborate.

Lisa took this behind-the-scenes picture of Gail (left) and
conferring on ways to demonstrate dyeing a cone.

Lisa, our stylist, was patiently transforming her lovely home into a busy dyeing/photography studio. Every surface was covered with yarns soaking and drying, undyed skeins and fleece, bottles of dye and vinegar, papers, props, and knitting thingamajigs. To get us started Lisa provided us with coffee strong enough to curdle fresh cream and an assortment of wonderful breads, scones, cookies, and brownies.

Coffee and snacks helped us focus as projects took over every chair and table.
The fruit and extreme brownie closeup are my iPhone pics.
Lisa gets credit for the coffee photo above.

Inspired by color everywhere, John Polak couldn’t resist taking photo
vignettes even when they weren’t on the list (left). I tried to follow suit
with my handy iPhone camera (center and right).

My iPhone caught Gwen looking on as the photo on the right
was being taken.
Steam adds a challenge for the photographer
as the yarn sinks into the pan.

Aprons and gloves were donned. Tables were covered with plastic and newspaper. Scrims were taped to the windows. And nearby but out of sight were a sponge and cleaner . . . just in case.

Photo shoots are a funny thing. If you do a good job, no one will ever know the effort expended to set up a single shot. Ask Gwen; she’s got a good story about setting up our photo shoot for the parking meter–dyeing method. I’ll let her unravel that one. . . .

Gail took some snaps as we did a little finagling with this setup
for a chapter opener.
Bottom right is our final photo taken by John Polak.

Mary Velgos, Storey Art Director

1 comment:

Alethea Morrison, Storey Creative Director said...

It's true, Mary! So much of our work is invisible.