Thayer (right) and stylist Karen Schaupeter on the photo set for The Shape of Knitting
Thayer Gowdy is a superstar at STC Craft. She’s an incredibly talented photographer who has shot a whopping 11 of our books, including Knitting Nature, The Repurposed Library, Printing By Hand, Reversible Knitting, and many more. I recently got to interview Thayer after she sent us some fabulous behind-the-scenes shots from Lynne Barr’s upcoming book, The Shape of Knitting (to be published on our Spring 2013 list). Read on for Thayer’s take on working on craft books, spontaneity on set, and incorporating confetti (lots of it!) into your life.
What was the theme of The Shape of Knitting shoot and how did you decide on it? Did the fact that you shot Lynne Barr's previous book--Reversible Knitting--affect any of your choices?
The theme was fun and chic and colorful, but also very clean. I’ve also been addicted to confetti lately, so that was a huge part of it! We had so much confetti; it was crazy. Reversible Knitting was a bit quiet and we shot it in a studio so it was very clean. I wanted to keep that thread for The Shape of Knitting, so we shot it in a studio again for a sophisticated look, but I also wanted to make it more colorful and playful.
You've shot quite a number of craft books for STC Craft/Abrams. What do you like best about these projects? What are some of your favorite memories from these shoots?
I love the creativity involved. Melanie gives us a lot of freedom and says “go for it.” I also love working as a team with stylist Karen Schaupeter. We come up with a vision, do research, and work together on the imagery. It’s all about creativity.
One of my favorite memories is when we shot the book The Repurposed Library. We shot the book in real homes that belonged to people I found online. One snowy day we ended up in the home of a retired writer and his wife, a children’s book illustrator. They made us a huge feast for lunch, including homemade soup. It was so welcoming. Most of my favorite memories come from people we meet along the way like that.
You seem to capture so many spontaneous moments. How do you encourage that spontaneity on set?
You have to leave room for things to happen. I like to keep the energy fun and playful, so people feel they can be spontaneous. It’s important to leave room for curiosity rather than trying to control things too much.
You shoot all over the world. What are some of your favorite places?
Bali is my favorite place to shoot. It’s a melding of cultures, and it’s so visual. But it’s all the smells, the scents, the sights. Everything combines to create a beautiful sensory experience.
What do you like to do when you're not shooting?
I love to surf, and I’m about to plant a vegetable garden, which is really exciting. I love to travel; I can’t get enough of seeing new places. My boyfriend and I just got back from Mexico, and we’re excited to try making piñatas.
Which means you can use more confetti!
Exactly! I won’t be done with confetti any time soon.