Five Questions with Artist Barbara Talbott

You might recognize these images from A Week of Genealogy’s Facebook page. They were so interesting that I asked the artist, Barbara Talbot to share some information about them.


BarbaraTalbot image for blogImages ©2015 Barbara Talbott, used with permission


1. Your photography is a great way to display family heirlooms. How did you come to take these photos?

I was working on my body of work, Tarnish, and a friend mentioned she had some pieces of vintage silver I could shoot for my show. When I went to her house to shoot the pieces, they were too contemporary for my work but I shot everything anyway. As I was working we talked about how she was trying to figure out how to display the silver since it was so tarnished and we came up with the idea of creating a wall of prints to hang over her buffet.


heirloom photo - cake cutter2. How did you make the items come to life?

The whole Tarnish body of work was actually an accident. I had these pieces and photographed them to create some etchings. When I opened them in Photoshop and started working with them, all these gorgeous colors came out and I loved the look of them. I worked on the original images for two years before I showed them to anyone. I rework the images to bring out all the color and texture.


3. What recommendations do you have for a genealogist who wants to photograph family items?

Metal objects are tricky. There are lots of reflections that tarnish and patina disguise. The best light comes from Windows and natural light. Use broad sources so the light can wrap around the objects. Place them on a fairly plain surface, an old damask table cloth or a dark oak table. The item should be the star. You can add props, fresh fruit in a bowl, napkins, but keep them subtle. You don’t want to hide the piece, just add a little color. Of course you can always find a professional photographer as well.


heirloom photo - butter dish4. How do you recommend framing photos of family items?

In the case of my friend, she went to antique stores and second hand stores and bought frames. We laid out the frames and determined the design for her wall. We scaled the prints to fit the frames and she had them assembled at a framing shop.



5. Where can people see your work?

In December, I has a piece at the Circle Gallery in Annapolis and at Montpelier art center both. You can see my solo show coming up in February at a restaurant in Laurel called Olive on Main.

Barbara’s work can also be found at her website

Barbara Talbott is a computer illustrator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and a Resident Artist at Montpelier Art Center, Laurel, Maryland. Barbara has been making things since she was a child. She attended MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art. She was at MICA, she studied the textural works of Jasper Johns, Jim Dine, and Frank Stella. The way these artists handled materials and created work so tactile made a distinct impression. It is the need to replicate the texture and surface of life that propels her to discover new ways to use materials and processes in everything she makes. After 30 years as an advertising photographer, graphic designer and computer illustrator, Barbara brings this experience into her work.