Sometimes it works out....other times it does not.

Kaila Elders horrible school photo from her youth

So I recently invested in a small point and shoot camera to try and get better photos for product listings, sharing on social media, and any photos I might need to take of myself. I historically cannot take a good photo of myself, especially if it's a scheduled event. I have a long history of horrible school photos, grad photos, and even some awkward modelling in an attempt to force myself to get used to it. Here's an example as proof.

It never was that big of a problem, but as my career grows and my social media strategy evolves, I think it's something I'd like to be better at. My hope was I could get more comfortable in front of a camera when it was just me and my self timer. I know a lot of artists use just their phone camera for these types of pictures, but living in the mostly overcast city of Seattle, I wanted to have more flexibility and control of the natural light I'm able to get in my apartment, and to have the photos need less editing afterwards.

I also was fortunate enough to take an afternoon class at Spacecraft Seattle with photo stylist Rachel Grunig. Rachel taught me to understand settings on my camera like ISO and shutter speed, and how that affects the way light looks in my photos. If anyone is wondering I have the Sony A5100! We also discovered its adjustable lens can be used to create a more interesting depth of field rather than just act as a zoom function. I took some practice photographs of some ceramic pieces, linocut work, and stickers.

two ceramic dog figurines
A handmade ceramic bowl with a leaf pattern sits next to a green linen napkin
A baked good sits on a ceramic plate next to some greenery, a mug, and handmade block printed linen napkins
A close up image of art prints featuring greyhound illustrations

This class gave me so many ideas on how to use different props and backgrounds with different types of work I want to showcase. I felt emboldened and ready to try the things I learned in my own apartment.

A ceramic mug with alemon pattern rests on its side atop a pink linen napkin
Greer the greyhound looks curiously at the camera
A hand holds up a small vase with purple flowers in it
A collection of unglazed ceramic vessels atop colourful linen napkins

Now that I was feeling more comfortable with the camera settings, I thought I'd try to get over my inability to take a normal looking photo of myself. I set up my tripod in the sunniest corner of my apartment, lured Greer off the couch with treats, and tried to get the self-timer working.

And honestly, my face was significantly less twitchy than normal, and I got "dead eyes" much less. Buuuuut I think that's mostly because I was running around so much moving things in and out of frame, adjusting the camera settings, figuring out the self-timer and focus options, and trying to wrangle a greyhound who refuses to remain on her feet more than the time it takes to gobble a treat. I feel like these photos are almost there. They have the right light, colour, and mood that I was going for. The areas for improvement though, are definitely in figuring out a way to focus on the foreground without having anyone to stand there when I'm at the tripod...all of these ended up slightly out of focus. And maybe training Greer a bit more for this specific situation, to hold a sit longer than a few moments. I'll try again and hopefully it will get better every time until I'm happy 🙂

Kaila Elders smiles at the camera
Kaila holds Greer the greyhound's chin

So lots to improve on, but I think this is a good start! I was in a really bad mood after taking these pictures; I was sweaty and tired, frustrated with Greer, and just bummed they didn't turn out exactly how I envisioned. But that's reality honestly. You can't be perfect at something right away. You need to work at it and not give up when it gets tough. Just take a break and come to it with fresh eyes the next day.