Tag Archives: Joel Conison


Mercury Rising 24×48
Prints available in all sizes
©Vickie Martin

Today I have interviewed photographer Joel Conison, a professional photographer to get some tips on photographing your arts.

Briefly describe how you began photographing artwork.

When I was a commercial photographer, I photographed everything from jets to jello – essentially whatever the assignment required.  I began photographing art when a gallery called and wanted me to photograph some of the work of Claes Oldenburg for a book they were publishing about him and his work. Mainly I photographed the sculptures, but there were also a few 2d pieces.

What is the difference between photographing 2d and 3d work?

The difference between photographing 3d and 2d work is dimension.  When working with 3d work, you have to be able to show the dimension, and that means shadow or uneven light. That is, one side of the sculpture has a little less light or is in a shadow in order to illustrate volume. With 2d work, an even light is required across the whole surface.  3d also takes up more space in order for it to be photographed.

What are the common mistakes artists make when photographing their artwork?

The most common mistakes artists make when photographing their arwork is they don’t know how to photograph it! 2d work needs to have even light, but that’s easier said than done. Some try to shoot work in the sun.  That’s too bright causing reflections.  Even light can only be found in shadows, but then the work is blue (cyan actually) because the sky’s color is reflected into the shadow. If shooting with film, it is a nightmare, but using digitial you have to know how to color balance and use a possible slight color correction with Photoshop.  Ah… photoshop…you have to learn that also. If you shoot inside you will need lights, stands and a sturdy tripod as well as a camera that is better than a point and shoot.

Describe the type of photograph you need to make to get a good print of your work.

In order to have a good digital print made you will need a high resolution file (300 ppi). To do that, you need a DSLR so you can capture in RAW.  A RAW capture means you have to know photoshop/lightroom in order to edit it.  Do artist’s have the time to learn that program just to have files of their work?  The way I make files for artists is to give them two files of each work. One is a low rez (72 ppi) file for email and a high rez for prints or reproduction (300 ppi).  A bad image or slide will make your work look bad and thus unprofessional.

Thank you Joel.  I have to say in my case, I’d rather get my work photographed by someone dependable!  And – speaking from experience, I remember having images photographed that had a blue (cyan as you say) tinge.

If you live in the Atlanta area, Joel is available for photographing any type of artwork. And, I know from experience, the color will be right on – not to mention the quick turnaround!







Pepper 30, Edward Weston

Many artists say they had a life-changing moment. This is such a story.  Joel Conison saw something in the blink of an eye that changed the direction of his life.

What if you were brought up in a traditional household and never thought of yourself as an artist. However, you  had the advantage of a mother being an award winning sculptor in both stone and marble. Your father is a CPA.  A career in art never crosses your mind because you are too busy being a kid.

Going to Ohio State, he did what any normal college boy would do, and trust me, he didn’t write home about it.

He will admit he had an interest in photography. BUT – when taking a photography class, the teacher had a lesson called “art in the dark” – showing famous photographs on a screen. It was here he saw the famous photograph, Pepper 30 by Edward Weston.  At that exact moment he knew he was meant to be a still life photographer. Truly an epiphany in the dark (that is the photograph above).

After seeing that photograph, he moved to Chicago and apprenticed for five years with several still photographers (and yes, one worked for Playboy).

Joel became a successful commercial photographer in the Cincinnati area, photographing prestigious clients like the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Ballet, But, after 20 years, he found himself a little bored and he knew the advertising business was changing. He had been teaching adults in the evening and realized he liked it. So, he sold everything and moved to Brooklyn and pursued his MFA at Pratt. (This is the highest you can go as a studio artist)

Fast forward to today, he has come full circle. After practicing commercial photography, getting an MFA, teaching on the college level, he went back to what originally made his heart beat – still life art photography.

At this moment he is photographing taxidermied birds. (see them and read his artist statement here) Yes, I didn’t understand taxidermy either, but trust me – animal lovers out there – they are the biggest animal lovers in the world.

I’d love to hear other stories of a moment that changed your life!


THE ORGANIC SKY – on canvas
print available in all sizes
©vickie martin

What is a giclee?  Basically it is a fine art print made on inkjet printers.  The creator, Jack Duganne, wanted a name for the new type of prints that were beginning to be produced in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The prints were made using a large format, high-resolution industrial inkjet printer that had been adapted for fine-art printing.  Not wanting to use a  word that had the negative connotations of “inkjet” or “computer generated” he settled on the word GICLEE, which is based on the French world Gicleur, which means nozzle (the verb gicler  means to squirt or spray).

To get a better understanding, I asked my partner Joel Conison, a photographer who has been making prints for quite a while, to give me a brief explanation over dinner.

He told me that when digital files began being used, the giclee machines that were used were very expensive. Companies like Epson were not making personal printers that were that good.  Over the years, this has changed and today you can make a good print on a personal ink jet printer.  The only drawback is the size, most personal printers don’t make prints larger than 16×20 (his guess) you have to shop around for one that makes larger prints (I’m sure there are larger ones available, but you have to look for them).

The biggest mistake most people make is not taking the time to understand color management.  The digital file must be passed from your computer to the printer.  To do it correctly, not only should your computer monitor be calibrated to industry standards, but you need to create a profile for the paper you are using.

In his words, “color management is the one thing one needs to understand to get consistently good quality prints”.

I realize this is a simplified approach to giclee’s, so I plan on doing an in-depth interview with him, or have him write a guest post to take a little more of the mystery out of getting good prints of your work at home.