Hopefully, you’ve had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Perhaps you’re following up on last week’s challenge of photographing family heritage memorabilia. Today, I thought I’d cover a clutter problem along with a family history problem. The culprit… children’s artwork.
In a historical sense, you may have artwork from children from the 1980s and not have any clue what to do with these items. They’ve probably been in a box or folder someday, for future use. Your children and grandchildren are probably telling you these things are fire hazards, and I’d probably agree with them.
In my case, I had a vast collection of artwork from my childhood when I married my husband. He couldn’t see what on earth I’d do with everything I’d saved. So, he told me to toss it, and I did. So wish I’d known how to photograph my artwork, magazines, and sticker books. Ah well, in his defense, we really didn’t have room for boxes of ‘stuff’ in our tiny little apartment back then.
Fast forward to present day, and you either have artwork from your children and/or grandchildren coming out your ears. It seems like the volume of crafts and artwork have increased substantially since back in the day, but I could be wrong. In any case, I don’t have room for everything in my home that my children make, so I pawn stuff on their grandparents. One grandma says she’s drowning in the children’s artwork. Guess that means that option’s out. So, what can we do?
Okay, you could also scan smaller items, but for the most part, my children use paper that is not 8 1/2 by 11 when in art class. So, I photograph their work. I just recently learned about using levels to brighten photos on the computer, but I haven’t used that skill on these pictures yet. But you will see how excellent photographs of children’s artwork can be. Plus, it takes up a lot less space!
|f/3.2, EXP 1/60 sec, ISO 200|
To photograph artwork, I set up a station (no lightbox) near a window with soft natural light. I place the artwork on a white sheet. With the camera mounted on a tripod, I set the timer function. This allows me to hold a piece of white foam board on the side opposite the window. I maneuver the board until the artwork is flooded with the right about of light bounced back.
For many objects, I can fill the camera frame with the entire art piece. In cases such as the piece above, I fill in as much of the frame as I can and then I’ll use photo editing software to cut out the background.
|f/2.8, EXP 1/15 sec, ISO 200|
For the photo above, the art is sized such that I could have used the scanner. However, since the art medium involves chalk, I would never put that on my scanner. Photography is the only solution for these items.
|f/2.8, EXP 1/60 sec, ISO 200|
I’ve also noticed that scanned art involving crayons also results in weird colors. So, I photograph crayon work about 50% of the time. This piece could really use the lightening techniques involving levels and contrast.
|f/2.8, EXP 1/25 sec, ISO 200|
As you can see, photographing children’s artwork can be done relatively easily without a need for a professional level of skills. But I’m sure you don’t want to have the white background distracting from your prodigy’s creations. Using a photo editor, you can quickly solve that problem.
|Photo as it appeared on the camera|
|Photo after cropping|
As you’re preparing for the Christmas holiday, perhaps you can scan the artwork that is around your house. Just think of all the free space you’ll have. That’s about the best Christmas present you could give yourself and your family.