Plectography pt.2 with Juerg Itten

John Tron Davidson
April 1, 2022
June 15, 2022

Resident pick photography specialist @jamabiko shares his thoughts on getting the most from your shots. Read on immediate!

Plectrum Photography

Object photography is like interpreting a jazz standard. On the one hand you serve the song (or the object), on the other hand you can fill it with your very own personality. A picture of an object can convey a message, set a mood or stimulate thought and imagination. In object photography you have the same possibilities of expression as in other areas of photography.


The display of small objects such as picks benefits from a macro lens and from a camera on which shutter speed and aperture can be adjusted. Most of my shots were taken with open aperture to separate the picks from the blurred background. I’m generally a fan of natural light and only occasionally use a ring light to lighten opaque picks a bit. Others achieve excellent results with artificial light, it’s ultimately a matter of taste. A tripod is necessary where you can’t simply lay the camera on the ground.

Good pictures do not require extensive post-processing. However, an image editing program for removing dust and stains or adjusting some parameters is certainly useful.


I recommend preparing an assortment of materials: surfaces, backgrounds, and objects to rest a pick against (e.g. a glass bottle). If you stand up the pick you will get a more three-dimensional effect. A simple and clear idea for the composition of the picture is an advantage. You don’t always have to strive for a contrast, even light in front of light and dark in front of dark can look very nice. Think of cleaning the plectrum before starting the session.


The desired light setting depends on the transparency and the structure of the pick. It is important to find out which characteristics you want to emphasize photographically. You will find makers who adapted their photographing technique perfectly to show the excellent properties of their picks, while their setting probably wouldn’t work for other materials or designs. Depending on the background and the light, a pick casts both a reflection and a shadow. These elements can best be controlled by using a white acrylic sheet as a base. The shadow element is fundamentally more complex, but also more fascinating than the reflection. Shadows can be diffuse or clearly delineated, and also colored with translucent picks. Hard shadows and reflections from direct sunlight (or lamps) are usually to be avoided, but there are also picks where the material properties are best expressed in sunlight. Here it is important to consider.


An image always belongs to its author, this has not to mentioned. Using a picture from someone else is fair when you ask the photographer, give him the photo credit and avoid to edit the received picture. (Reposting a picture in the Instagram story is generally no problem and estimated.) 

At last: Be inspired without copying – find your personal style!

Juerg Itten, 2022

Juerg is a pick photographer and collector. He is also into Lego, which is correct.

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