Published: Feb. 8, 2011

When Lia Pileggi began conducting workshop classes for photographing artwork she noticed something. With a little help from the people she was helping, she realized her department was missing a resource of potential value for students.

“In every single workshop, someone would ask, ‘Ok, this is great, now I know how to photograph, where can I photograph?’” Pileggi said. “Every single workshop, that was a question that came up.”

Pileggi, a digital imaging and technology coordinator at the Visual Resource Center in the Department of Art and Art History, shared an idea sparked by those questions with Elaine Paul, the director of the Visual Resources Center. Her plan consisted of building a photo lab complete with a high quality camera and table for placing artwork.

With the help of an ASSETT Development Award, the two are developing this digital photography studio for the Department of Art and Art History at CU. The lab will give art and art history students a chance to photograph their work in a professional manner to help build a professional portfolio.

“Once Elaine and I started talking with faculty and realizing there really isn’t a space, that’s when we knew…we just had to help make this a reality,” Pileggi said.

On the third floor of the vibrant Visual Arts Complex, a few steps from their offices, their vision is slowly coming to form.

In a plain, almost empty room the digital photography studio is under construction. It houses a shooting table that when complete will be shaped like a pinball machine. In front of the table a black Nikon camera fitted with wide-scope lens sits atop a tripod.

The lens is capable of capturing the depth while adding a sense of space to its photographs, a necessity considering the small size of the room.

Paul called the room a flexible space, as students will be able to use the entirety of the room to place artwork for photographing.  It will serve primarily small for medium sized two and three-dimensional works.

Other resources in the lab will include a MacBook laptop for real-time photographing, a high-storage memory card, an ultraviolet glass filter to protect the camera and a portable, three-piece fluorescent light kit to help illuminate the artwork.

A centralized course resource

One of the key factors behind Paul and Pileggi’s idea was how the lab could benefit students. The pair suggested some 1,000 undergraduates could potentially benefit from the lab.

“Students need to be able to photograph the creative work that they produce in order to document it for their portfolios, for applying to graduate school, for applying to the BFA program, scholarships, grants and residencies,” Paul said. “So it’s really important that they can take high-quality photographs of their work.”


As far as the number of courses that can utilize the studio, Pileggi made a suggestion as to how many classes could benefit from the lab.

“Every course!” she said laughing.

The two did identify a few courses they though would benefit the most from the photo lab like painting and drawing classes and undergraduate ceramic and sculpture courses.

An exciting faculty response

Anticipation for the lab is already in place.

“People are already asking about it,” Pileggi said, “because we’ve told people, ‘it’s coming!’”

The lab may enhance a students learning experience, as Pileggi said the ability to produce high quality, professional images will help students present themselves and their work better.

“Already this semester I’ve been approached by an instructor who wanted me to add training of the new room in her curriculum and was asking, ‘Okay, when is the room going to be ready, I want to put you in the syllabus!’” Pileggi said.

The lab is expected to be complete before the end of the spring semester.

-Written by Esteban L. Hernandez, CU 12’, ASSETT Reporter