Sally Wiener Grotta is a photographer, writer and communicator. The creative mastermind behind the ongoing photographic project, American Hands, Sally travels throughout the country creating narrative portraits of traditional tradespeople at work while hosting exhibits and workshops.
Sally’s passion is discovering, creating and sharing a good story, while identifying the common narrative thread that defines us as individuals and a community. Through the power, performance and reliability of HP Z Workstations, combined with a DreamColor Display and the HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer, Sally has been able to maximize her creative freedom so she can focus on her art.
Jim Christensen: Tell us about yourself and your business.
Sally Wiener Grotta: American Hands is a dream-come-true project for me. I get to spend time with talented craftspeople and am challenged to capture and express the spirit of creative adventure and cultural history their work represents. In addition, I am using HP MagCloud to author a series of books.
JC: Tell us about your workflow. As a freelance photographer, what products do you use to maintain productivity and what do you find most valuable about them?
SWG: My workflow starts with the relationship I develop with the artisans I photograph. As we become familiar and comfortable with one another, the camera virtually disappears. Back at my studio, I back up my memory cards onto DVDs, and dump the entire shoot into my HP Z800 Workstation’s hard drive. When editing and sorting through the photographs, my HP DreamColor Display’s 30-bit color makes the difference, providing me with the fine-tuned, reliable and meticulous visual data that I need to make the best choices and edits for my exhibition prints.
The final digital steps involve deciding what media I want to use for printing the picture on my 44” HP Designjet Photo Printer. What is remarkable about the Z3200 printer is that it has built-in hardware (a color densitometer) that will read how different media will respond to the ink colors. It then creates a color profile for that specific media, which is sent to the Z800 Workstation. As long as I select the correct color profile for the media I’m going to use in Photoshop, the image displayed on the DreamColor Display will match whatever will come out as a print.
JC: Why have you chosen HP products over other technology providers?
SWG: My HP Z800 Workstation is essentially a transparent piece of high performance technology that handles whatever I throw at it, regardless of how complex the image, so that all I need to concern myself with is the creative process itself. The DreamColor Display’s granularity of detail gives me far greater control over my image editing. When combined with the HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer, I end up with an imaging system that has tight, accurate, reliable color management. It takes all the guesswork out of fine art printing, so that technology no longer limits me.
JC: What tips do you have for small businesses that can’t afford professional photographers, but want to capture images that showcase their work and business?
SWG: Creating an effective picture involves keeping your mind in gear, paying attention to details, and considering what the photograph you plan will say about your business. Here are some tips:
Pay attention not only to the central subject of your picture but to everything that will be captured in the frame.
If you are photographing inside, using a flash, position your subjects several feet away from the wall, to soften those ugly shadows that can be produced by the flash.
Better yet, take the time to move your subject closer to a window or other light sources. Be aware of where the light and shadows fall, and move yourself and your subject until everything is appealing.
Take the same picture from different angles, including from above or below. Don’t trust that the first composition you come up with will give you the best picture.
Train your eye for good composition. Leaf through glossy magazines and spend time looking at paintings to consider how they use line, color and light.
Don’t edit your photographs on an uncalibrated monitor. Think about a wall of TVs in any appliance store. They are often tuned to the same show, but each one displays its own unique version of the image, with different colors and levels of brightness. Similarly, computer screens lie to you about color and light, unless they are standardized. That requires using a simple device called a color calibrator, which can be purchased for as little as $100.
You can connect with American Hands on Facebook to follow the project.