I try to photograph all the props I make. It’s a good habit to have. Look at the box above. It’s a champagne box I built a few years ago. There’s nothing terribly special about it, and I will probably never put it in my portfolio. I took a picture of it anyway. What is the cost of storing a digital image on your harddrive? Realistically, it is close to zero. You can store images and files online with a variety of free sources. You have no reason not to take a picture.
When I was first building props, I did not have a camera. I bought disposable cameras from the drug store and used them to take pictures of my props. I then had to get the film developed and scanned in to a computer. These days, my phone has a camera. Most phones have cameras. Even if your phone does not have a camera, chances are there is a camera nearby that can take a picture. In other words, you can’t use “I don’t have a camera” as an excuse to not have pictures of your props.
Why would I photograph props if I have no intention of putting them in my portfolio? First, my portfolio layout may change. I may not have much use for a picture of a box. Maybe after a few years, I’ve constructed quite a few interesting boxes. Suddenly, I have a potential page in my portfolio of boxes I’ve constructed. I wouldn’t have that opportunity if I did not take the pictures in the first place. Basically, the cost of taking and keeping a photograph is so minimal that taking one and never using it is so minimal compared to not taking one and wishing you had. Just take the picture.
I don’t know of any serious prop masters who will ever object to one of their artisans spending a few seconds to take a photograph. The fact is that no one else is going to photograph your props for you. No one is going to be checking to make sure you are keeping your portfolio up to date. No one is going to be asking whether you are documenting your work for future reference. It is entirely up to you.
Speaking of taking photographs for portfolios, I will be at USITT next week, and I will be reviewing some portfolios. It looks like portfolio reviews are divided up randomly, so if you are in my slot, congratulations. If you are not but you still want to stop and say hi, I will most likely be at the S*P*A*M table for some time frame (to be determined later). You can also contact me directly if you really want to meet up in Charlotte.