If you really want your portfolio to shine, you need good photographs of your props. Taking photographs during a rehearsal or show is another topic entirely; in this article, I’ll be talking about taking photographs either in the shop or backstage.
Blurry and Grainy Pictures
The biggest problem and complaint about bad portfolio pictures are blurry and grainy photographs. Though caused by different things, they are both symptoms of not enough light.
Your camera determines the correct exposure in three ways: shutter speed, aperture, and film or chip sensitivity. With a fast shutter speed, moving objects are frozen in place. As the shutter speed slows down, moving objects become blurred in the photograph. At a slow enough shutter speed, the slight shaking of your hands as you hold the camera will blur the entire picture.
If your pictures are blurry, you need to steady the camera. A tripod is the usual solution. Expensive tripods are made for heavier cameras and able to withstand wind and rain. For smaller cameras used indoors, almost any tripod will help steady your pictures. You can even get table-top tripods, or funky ones like this: Continue reading Taking photographs of your work→
In my previous post, I discussed what to include in your props portfolio. In this part, I will discuss how to layout, organize, and present your portfolio. I’m going to use my own portfolio as a guide; there are certainly many other ways you can make your portfolio.
There are a number of ways to layout your pages. You can of course do it by hand, where you make copies of all your photographs and drawings and glue them to paper or a heavier board. Or, if you want a less time-consuming and cheaper method, you can do it on your computer. For simple layouts, you can use any number of software programs, depending on what you are already comfortable using or what you have access to. I use Scribus, an open-source desktop publishing program. I know people who use Powerpoint. You can even use a word processor if that’s what you like working with. You basically need to fit images and text on a page, so your options are limitless.
Having a portfolio of your work is a must for finding new jobs as a props artisan. I’ve broken the process of putting a portfolio together into two parts. Today’s part will focus on what to put in your portfolio, while the second part will show how to present your portfolio. I’m not going to say this is the best or even the correct way to make a portfolio; it’s my way. But I’ve shown my portfolio to many professionals who have reviewed it, and I’ve gotten all my jobs with it, so this guide is coming from some experience.
I came across the props portfolio for Ross MacDonald. He has done paper props for films such as National Treasure, Mr. Brooks, and Seabiscuit. His portfolio is not only well-illustrated, but contains a lot of information about how he went about creating his props. If you ever think you are over-researching your props, chances are, you haven’t been as obsessive as Mr. MacDonald. Have you ever submitted a Freedom of Information Act to obtain an FBI file from the Lincoln assassination to replicate John Wilkes Booth’s diary? Probably not.
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies