Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Martha Stewart's Craft Projects For Emerging Photographers

Hello Emerging Photographers! 

Martha Stewart here. I know life as a young undiscovered artist is dynamic and exciting, but sometimes in the pursuit of creative passion, simple domestic flourishes can get lost in the shuffle. I'm here to say you can have your cake and eat it too! Follow your dream wherever it leads...and convert the plentiful excess into domestic bliss. What follows are a few easy decorating projects for the home or office using old photographic ephemera. They require no special skills. If you're reasonably crafty you'll find them easy, fun, and beautiful.

ID Badge Mobile 

An ID Badge w/ bold color scheme
After a few cycles through the portfolio review circuit, emerging photographers may accumulate a large stash of Identification Badges. I realize some folks may discard them, but I like to collect IDs in a desk drawer intact with their lanyards. I keep an eye out in particular for badges with complimentary color schemes and strong design elements. Every time the drawer hits capacity —After, say, twenty or thirty new ones have been added—  I cull the flashiest badges for craft projects. 

One traditional favorite project is the ID Badge Mobile. A metal tripod screwed into the ceiling provides the frame. This supports lanyards tied at random intervals. I knot the lanyards at varying lengths so the ID badges hang in a diverse, pleasing array of color. Set in a blank space, the mobile can activate ceilings and soffits, and brighten up any room. If you want to add variety, tie a few business cards or leave-behinds to colored string, then add them to the mix. Great for foyer, hallway, porch, or as the subject of your next social media announcement.

Photobook Box Furniture

Photobook box endtable
If you're like many emerging photographers, you share a living space with dozens of boxes of unsold copies of your self-published photobook(s). Your monograph is bound to be discovered and touted by someone important eventually. But while you're temporarily care taking, why not convert the boxes into furniture? A carefully curated selection of cardboard boxes can tie a room together visually, while providing valuable storage and activating unused space. 

Paint selected boxes in bright hues to add a burst of color to any dark room, or leave as plain cardboard for a country downhome look. Stack boxes vertically into an end table or horizontally for an ottoman. A wide mound of boxes can create a custom butcher block for the kitchen or dining room credenza. If you have an excess of small light boxes, these make great building blocks for the children's play area. One treatment I've grown to love is a cozy bay window lounge platform. This one requires only 5 or 6 boxes laid end to end, with a few throw pillows on top (see pillow stuffing idea below). 

The possibilities are up to you. Try them all. Odds are you have plenty of material to work with. You can easily swap out selected boxes later if you change your room's color scheme down the road, or if you happen to sell a book and need to open a box.

Show Call Mood Lighting

A show call with violet accent brightens any corner
Show calls are like catnip to an emerging photographer. They keep filling the inbox, impossible to resist. It's a full time job submitting to each one. No sooner is one application completed than the next comes right on its tail. And that's just you. You've got to keep track of everyone else's accomplishments too! Yikes!

One way to relieve the stress of the photo rat race is to convert emailed show calls into a relaxing slideshow. When a call for submission arrives, simply pull the cover graphic into your favorite slideshow program. Powerpoint works well or iPhoto for greater simplicity. Pull the folder onto an unused iPad, set images to cycle every 3 or 4 seconds, then find a dim corner in the house, and set the screen a few feet away facing in. A slightly upturned position works well. Corners often go neglected, but the effect of this mood lighting can be a dramatic improvement. 

I keep a rotating batch of 800 to 1000 recent submission calls in my slideshow. No particular order, just whatever has rolled in over the past few weeks, and I change them out every 10 days or so. My one nod to sequencing is that I try to separate strong colors so that bold splashes come every 5 or 6 images. It's an elegant arrangement which can change feng shui of the entire room. Who needs a disco ball when Show Call Mood Lighting brightens your corners?

Digital Body Wind Chimes

Simple windchime using old cameras
If you're an emerging photographer who likes to push boundaries and is not afraid to experiment, you may quickly find yourself with as many as 15 or 20 various digital bodies lying around the home, plus all their accessories. But some of these camera systems are less functional than others. A few might be four months old or even older. In other words, obsolete. It's hard to part with them, but what to do? 

Why not repurpose old cameras into a beautiful Digital Body Wind Chime? Pull batteries to enhance acoustic properties. Spraypaint with your favorite color (metallic paint works well). Then glue small elements like rhinestones, glitter, or bold polka dots to the bodies to create strong visuals. Use camera strap eyelets to loop twine, which you'll then tie to sturdy frame. Place in an outdoor location which gets a nice breeze. Then let the wind blow that obsolescence away! The soothing sound of cameras clinging together makes a perfect soundtrack for quiet morning coffee with a partner, entertaining company over cocktails, or just a night in with family planning the next social media campaign.

Portfolio Box Planter

Portfolio boxes stacked into four-ply planter
After a while on the review circuit, emerging photographers often accumulate a closet full of old portfolio presentation cases. These are typically black, made of leather, acrylic, plastic, or other archival rot-resistant material, and suitable to hold several gallons of contents. In other words, they are ideal planters for vegetables and flowers. 

To create your Portfolio Box Planter, open the top of the portfolio box, fill with soil to about one inch below the lip, mix in your favorite compost or nutrient amendment, then seed with your desired plants. If you wish, shredded portfolio prints from last month's project can create a nice top layer mulch. Now place the top back on. Use a 1.5" bit to drill holes in the surface, one above each seedling. The last step is a simple drip irrigation line into the interior. This allows efficient watering while trapping moisture inside. In cool north shade garden or patio, the black surface will retain winter heat and expand your grow zone. Once it's set up, Bingo! Your mini-greenhouse planter is now ready to be announced on social media.

Throw Pillow Filling

Filling from material collected in a ten minute span
at the last portfolio review event
One dilemma for the emerging photographer is how to organize all the physical ephemera one collects from other photographers. Business cards, leave behinds, show fliers, chapbooks. If you're on the review circuit, the material snowballs quickly. You'd like to leave it behind but you can't afford not to keep tabs on your competitors. So you collect it. And then what? 

One practical application for these paper products is Throw Pillow Filling. After you've had a few days with the material and have culled any market secrets or networking benefits, toss cards in a shredder. Shredded photographic ephemera makes a colorful non-allergenic, archival fill material for your next homemade throw pillow. Sew two pieces of fabric together, stuff with shredded material, and voila! If you're handy, you can expand the possibilities to cushions, teddy bears, life size blow-up dolls, or any other soft household item.


John said...

What a hoot! She really knows photographers doesn't she! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I loved it when Bill Geist channeled Martha Stewart. I am dubious when Martha Stewart channels Martha Stewart.