Learning how to photograph ceramic plates can be a tricky endeavor for the potter. The best way to showcase a beautiful plate is on a plain white or gray background, propped up on on its side, but plate stands are really distracting. But to prop it up from behind you need something heavy that won’t get tipped over with the weight of the plate. Some potters use bricks to prop up their plates, but bricks can scratch up your backdrop.
Catie Miller came up with a brilliant solution to this problem: sticky-back craft foam sheets. In today’s post, an excerpt from the October 2019 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Catie explains how she uses this inexpensive material to prop up her plates! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
PS Photographing plates on a plain background is desirable when submitting work to juried shows or galleries, but these days platforms such as Etsy have helped promote a different type of photography. See this post in the archives on how to photograph for Etsy!
I have a major pet peeve when it comes to photographing plates or platters. There is nothing more distracting than seeing a plate stand, whether it is clear acrylic or more decorative.
Many artists have used bricks to prop up plates and photograph them. Bricks are great because they come in all different sizes and are heavy so they don’t tip over when holding up a plate. The one major issue is that they are rough and can scratch up your backdrop.
Luckily there is a simple solution. Cover your bricks in adhesive-backed craft foam. Craft foam is available from most craft supply stores. This is an easy 5-minute project that costs only $1.10!
- Bricks (I used landscaping pavers from my local hardware store, $0.50 each)
- Sticky-back foam sheets (I used 2mm-thick, 9×12-inch Foamies brand from my local craft store, $0.60 each)
- Writing utensil
Start by tracing your brick on the paper backing of the craft foam. The paper backing covers the adhesive and will be removed later. If you have a large piece of craft foam, you can trace and rotate your brick to create a continuous sheet. Once you’ve traced all the sides and the top and bottom, cut out the foam pieces. Peel off the paper backing, and adhere the craft foam to the brick.
Now you’re ready to use the padded bricks. Place the brick behind your plate as a prop to give your photos a plate-stand-free image. The squishy foam will save your backdrop from scratches and grip your plate. Cover multiple bricks in different sizes to stack and ensure you always have the right size for the right plate.
Additional tip: Use white or black craft foam to cover bricks to avoid any unwanted color from the foam being reflected onto your backdrop and shadow.
the author Catie Miller is a studio potter living and working in Fargo, North Dakota. She continues to work within the art community, teach workshops throughout the Midwest, embrace motherhood, and relax with her husband and small dog. To see more of her work, visit www.catiemillerceramics.com and follow her on Instagram @catiemillerceramics.