Photographing craft portraits

Since January, we have had the pleasure of an exceptional dynamic duo in our midst: Barbora and Buffy. Having joined us as an Erasmus intern, Barbora and her shadow Buffy have been committed members of the Craft Design House Team for six months. When June rolled around and it was time for them to head home to the Czech Republic, we couldn’t imagine how we were going to get along without them both. Happily, we haven’t had to suffer too much as we are continuing to work with them on an ongoing basis.

In fact, Barbora will be returning to us in just a few short weeks, camera in hand, and we can’t wait!

Barbora came to us with an unenviable task. Amongst her many duties, she was charged with taking passable portraits of the Craft Design House Team. While shooting work photos may be a bit of a chore (for everyone concerned), it becomes something akin to a nightmare when the photographer is confronted with 3 camera-shy, spontaneously-grimacing-and-awkward-in-front-of-the-lens women.

However, with a winning combination of charm, laughter from Barbora and some mildly distracting pootling around by poodle and assistant-photographer, Buffy, the day yielded some perfect team photos. Essentially, a miracle.

When Barbora isn’t taking portrait photos of us, or of our designers and makers, she turns her talents to taking portraits of craft and design, through a mixture of location-based and studio photoshoots and white background portraits. The images that have emerged from this project have been truly beautiful, giving a new flavour and depth to the craft and design pieces we showcase, and the contexts in which they can be viewed.

Barbora, having worked for several years in logistics, decided that she needed a career change and that she should follow her passion for portrait photography. Applying through Erasmus for placements that would enable her to learn about setting up her own company while also developing her portfolio, she came across us, and bravely left her job, her family and friends in the Czech Republic to place with us in Edinburgh, a city she had never been to, and where she knew no one.

Barbora’s background in logistics and head of organisation has been hugely appreciated and demonstrably necessary at the photoshoots we have conducted so far. On one notable occasion, we had a bank holiday weekend to pull in pieces from across the UK, as we were offered a fantastic opportunity to shoot in the home of Lair owner and stylist, Xanthe Weir. Expecting that the majority of our designer makers would find the time-scale a little challenging, we approached a number of makers for the shoot and when they all came through, Barbora managed to juggle the many styles and disciplines of the works in a truly sensational range of photographs, seamlessly transitioning from photographing models to ceramic sculptures to jewellery to the resident dog!

For six months Barbora has worked alongside Craft Design House, honing her photographic skills (they were pretty great to begin with but her portfolio is significantly larger now) and attending strategy meetings and sessions with consultants on everything from branding to SEO. In a wonderful example of bartering, an up-and-coming graphic designer we work with and Barbora exchanged skills: in return for Barbora doing a photoshoot with Ayesha’s family and some professional portrait images, Ayesha created a stunning logo for Barbora’s new business. We very much hope that these experiences and Barbora’s new sleek logo will stand her in good stead for setting up her own company, Ubaru Photography.

Barbora has come to know the works of our designer makers inside out, through cataloguing their images (another, less enviable task) and though selecting pieces for photoshoots she has conducted.

Does she have a favourite piece or designer?

"I love all the designers – it would be difficult to choose one because all of them are unique and their products are amazing. But most of all I love my mug – and drinking coffee from it every morning." - Barbora Ulrychova

By now she must also know the city of Edinburgh like the back of her hand, thanks to her frequent hunts for new shooting locations, and her ongoing Instagram project #100DoorsOfEdinbugh, not to mention her many walks with her darling Buffy.

Quickfire Questions

Inspiration comes to you…when I don’t seek it – when I’m just enjoying my life and present moment.

Your favourite ice cream flavour is…I don’t have a favourite flavour, but a producer – based in a small village near to my hometown who makes every day different flavours from fresh fruit. And I enjoy trying a new one every time I go there.

Your ideal holiday would include…mountains, my boyfriend and my dog

Tea or Coffee? Both, please! But good ones: life is too short to drink bad tea or coffee…

What inspires you to get out of bed in the morning? That I have to go for a morning walk with my dog.

Keep up with Barbora’s progress on Instagram and Facebook.