Experimenting with Photographs

Experimenting with Photographs

By: Vasanthi Pendakur

Photographing the dress collection presented special challenges. Unlike the smaller pieces, dresses are long and bulky and don’t fit easily on a table. I needed a way to take long flat photos without putting too much pressure on the dress’s shoulders.

I experimented with a few different methods before settling on a final arrangement. First, I tried the side of the shelving units, but this was rejected quickly, because there wasn’t enough room and the angle of the hanger was wrong. Then I tried laying out a dress on the floor, but again, the angle was wrong. Next, I found a long dowel and pinned a length of backdrop fabric across the top to create a curtain. I laid the dowel across the aisle created by two shelving units and hung a dress on top of the dowel from a padded hanger.

Curtain without a backboard.

This worked well, but it was still missing something. The hems still curled in too much for a good picture, and there wasn’t enough support on the shoulders. To fix this, I propped up a shelf behind the curtain to create a backboard. This arrangement took some weight off the dress’s shoulders and I was able to spread out the hems a bit more.

Front photo station.


Back of photo station.


Photo of a dress with the attic cropped out; printed silk crepe dress made in 1927.

I really enjoyed working on this part of the project. I got to delve deeper into photography than I have before, and I had a lot of fun experimenting with different ways of getting a good picture.