Gregory Case and his wife Elena, owners of Gregory Case Photography, have been photographing Road to California for the past five years and will again in 2014. They are the only independent full-time photo studio photographing quilts, textiles, and fiber arts in the United States. They have regularly photographed for 5 different quit and textile magazines, in addition to contributing to over 25 quilt-related magazines and over 50 books. How did a licensed clinical social worker find his niche as a quilt photographer? Read on….
How did you get started in photography? It was a hobby of mine that I started very briefly in high school. Back then everything was film based and I quickly lost interest trying to figure out all the buttons on the camera. Years later, we were attending Elena’s niece’s wedding and I saw the perfect picture moment but the photographer was nowhere around to capture it. My reaction was, “What a shame to have missed such a great shot.” Later, during the reception, I was sitting by another guest who had brought their Canon Rebel to the wedding. I asked questions and observed what they were doing with their camera and decided I could do that. Two weeks later, for my birthday, I got the same camera and started shooting away.
What did you do to develop your skills? I completely self-taught myself, reading everything I could get my hands on. When I started, the transition from film to digital was just beginning which I think worked in my favor. I was learning and struggling with this new medium right along with all the other photographers. A year later, when I was offered my first paid job, photographing the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, I hadn’t any real experience but they took a chance with me any way. It actually turned out pretty well and I stayed with them for five years, learning and improving as I went along. I even went on to photograph other national garden shows from that first opportunity.
How did you find your niche in quilt photography? Eleven years ago, we were living in Northern California and I worked with a woman named Sue Astroth. I had photographed her author’s photo for a quilt book she had written. Sue had a friend, Verna Mosquera, who saw Sue’s book and asked if she thought I would be interested in taking pictures of her quilt. Sue encouraged Verna to call me and that was how it all started. I’ve been perfecting my craft ever since and for the past eight years have been photographing quilts exclusively. The growth of my business has been pretty much by word of mouth. Quilters and fiber artists from 35 different states and 6 international countries have sent us their designs to be photographed at our studio for patterns, juried shows, and publications.
What all is involved in photographing quilts? Ha-ha—everything!!! You just don’t want to throw a quilt up and take a picture. It isn’t that simple. Basically there are three things I work on: Color, Tone (brightness and darkness), and Surface Detail (quilting and thread). Of the three, color is the most difficult and challenging. Every device used in the process (from human eye to camera to computer to printer to paper to ink) has a different interpretation for the same color. The trick is getting them all to see the particular color as close as possible. The average quilt typically takes an hour and a half from beginning to end to photograph in my studio. If it is a difficult shoot, it can take up to four hours to photograph one quilt.
What do you and Elena do at Road? I am the photographer and Elena is the stylist, preparing the quilts and scenes to be shot. Generally we take anywhere from 1,000 – 2,000 photographs during the week, looking for variety and following a shot list given to us from Carolyn and Matt. For three years, I also taught classes which I really enjoyed. Next Spring, I will be teaching on Road’s Quilting Through the Panama Canal.
How would you describe your experience with Road? I love it. No other show compares. For me, Road is the “Apple” of the quilt world. It is a high quality show with the reputation of having the best teachers, vendors, and staff. I look forward to it every year.
You can find Gregory and Elena on their web site: www.gregorycase.com
Stay tuned. Next on the blog, Gregory is going to share some easy photography tips.