by Mari Buitendag

“You don’t take a photograph you make it.” Ansel Adams

Since I can remember I have had an obsession with dress up and making my own costumes or props for events. I never knew that this would become a handy skill that I would soon use in my photography.

Today, I personally believe that applying craftsmanship in your photography can benefit you greatly in this evolving industry.

The role of the photographer is changing rapidly and as a creative it is crucial to explore new techniques and methods to be able to adapt within this industry. You might have heard or seen multi-talented photographers that make costumes, props, sets and even some that practices make-up artistry.

I have noticed that if you are more involved with the styling of your work, you will surely leave a personal and artistic mark that has more value and meaning. This might not apply to all genres of photography, such as documentary photography. I do however believe that craftsmanship is a great skill to have when working with conceptual or fantasy photography.

My own craftsmanship journey started as a final year degree student when I had to produce my own artist book. I decided to go crazy with an avant-garde theme where I planned out concepts and made some props and outfits myself. I did acquire help from friends, due to the time constraint to produce an entire book of work in less than three months.

As impossible as it seemed at the time, the project was completed and it was probably the most proud I have been of anything I have ever produced and conceptualized. I felt like this was the start of me becoming a true artist. Things I enjoyed creating since then until now include: life-size paper doll dress, gold spike shoulder pads, lace mouse mask, large paper tutu, galaxy inspired choker, a wig of sorts and tiny angel wings.

With this journey I discovered that I truly enjoyed working with my hands and I will continue to do so. I also realized that it is so important to keep learning and being open to change. Any new skill or technique will benefit you in some way and make your life easier. This could even be something as small as building your own light tent for studio photography.

My biggest advice to photographers and artists out there is to constantly challenge yourself and try something new. You might just surprise yourself with a skill you never knew you had!