Photographing Your Work
To me photographing your work properly is just as important as doing the work, specially when it is a mural that will likely be covered up in just a few days. I look for strong compositions that convey a sense of scale by either including figures in the image or architectural features that are easily recognizable. I always shoot in RAW to allow for easier editing my gear includes a tripod, 2 lenses, a flash a camera remote and a Nikon 5200. This light set up gives me versatility to handle to just about any situation.
The mural above was painted at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin. It is a great place to paint and it is open to the public. Although only pre-approved artists are allowed to paint there, there is no one to enforce the rules most of the time so the droves of onlookers also bring their own spray paint. The result is anyone and everyone paints when they go there and usually a freshly painted mural will get covered up by random scribbles. Some see that as a negative, but I enjoy the impermanence of this place. Which is why it is so important to make sure you photograph anything you do there really well for it may not be there tomorrow.
For this photograph I partnered up with Kendra Gorleski, a local Austin photographer. I posed in front of the picture with a torch in hand, set the camera to the lowest ISO, 5 second shutter speed and a 25 f-stop. The picture was shot in RAW to allow for easier editing afterwards in Lightroom. One big challenge was getting the focus right while it was pitch black.
Aside from the settings however, composition is also very important. We wanted to convey a sense of scale so having a figure in the picture was very important. We used a singular light source to create an eerie feeling and the deep shadows around the edges work to focus the eye on the mural. One thing we couldn't solve was how to keep the torch from getting blown out. Next time we will try bracketing some shot and layering them in post-production.
All in all we are happy with the result and can't wait to see what the next mural is and how it will be photographed.