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My Recent Job For A Teashop

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Over the past few weeks, I've been working for a teashop in Snohomish, WA... doing some website work, but primarily taking product photos for their online catalog (I'm a photographer by trade). What fun! To this point, I've photographed over 400 types of tea, most of them loose.

The great part is, of course, that I get to try any tea that I want. In fact, after each tea is photographed (only about 1tsp is used at a time), it would otherwise be thrown away. I couldn't just allow all of that tea to go to waste.

Unfortunately, I was photographing large groups of teas at a time (50 teas per hour, roughly)... so trying each one wasn't really practical. And in fact, I don't really have any interest in trying most of the flavored teas or herbals. But I did get a chance to try several teas that were new and interesting to me. I also learned a fair amount about green pu-erhs. The resident tea expert at the store was a pu-erh fiend, and although I had previously avoided the whole genre in the past, I found that there are some really exquisite ones out there.

Anyway, since my photos are just standard catalog photos, there's not thing particularly interesting about them... but I thought I'd post a couple. If you'd like to see all of them, feel free to take a look at http://www.everythingtea.net ; I'm sure the owners will be happy to have the extra traffic.


Thought this was interesting... pu-erh sold in its bamboo aging basket.


One of the pu-erhs that I tried and found to be quite good.


Even though I'm not really a fan of flavored teas, some of them were still pretty to photograph.


Usually I like lightly oxidized oolongs (typically high mountain oolongs from Taiwan), but this Dan Cong was also really good, and not like others that I have tried.

Anyway, I just had to share this experience with someone else who would appreciate the splendor of the thing :) I'm going to make sure that I work exclusively for Tea Shops in the future!

As Ever,

J. Matthew Gore

Matthew Gore Photography


The Tea Archive


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After yet another attempt to photograph tea, I really appreciate the hard work it took to shoot those all of those teas. The dark on light background, trying to give the nearly black ones some good definition without making them appear faded and washed out, all adds up to a high level of technical difficulty.

And that is one heck of a gorgeous kyusu. Does it have a strainer built in?

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You're right... you definitely have to know what you're doing to get decent photos on a pure white background. If you use your camera's meter, it will generally be fooled by all of the white (or otherwise very light) area, and expose it towards a middle grey, which will in turn push the dark tones of the tea down into the zones that are too dark to show much detail. The trick is to over-expose, and allow the highlights to actually blow out where there isn't supposed to be any detail.

I literally spent 3 or 4 years looking for a kyusu that I really liked before I spent the cash on this one. I even had a local potter try to make one for me. I was happy when I found this one :) It does have a lightweight mesh screen around the whole interior, and although I've never tried, it looks as though it might be replaceable.

- Matt

Matthew Gore Photography


The Tea Archive


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