Welcome to my craft space, once again. These past few months I have received quite a few requests asking me to show the “tools” I use to take my project photos. Many of you have asked about lights, light boxes, backdrops, cameras … the list goes on – but, to be honest, this cheapskate crafter doesn’t use much at all.
Today, I am going to share a few of my project photo-taking tips & tricks with you.♥ I am NOT a professional photographer by any means. Years ago, my mother was a journalism major who had me take 4-H photography classes, and from there I have just muddled through learning as a go through online classes, strategic failures, and experimentation. Let me share with you what I have learned.
Get a Good Camera & Learn How to Use It
I am blessed to have been gifted with a wonderful Lumix camera, but I have taken just as many photos on my phone. When choosing a camera, you can go as low as a 5-megapixel, but I suggest that you look into at least an 8-megapixel or 16-20-megapixel for close-ups. The more megapixels you have, the less grainy the photo and the greater amount of detail that can be captured in a picture.
Now, no matter how many megapixels you get, you still need to learn how to use your camera.♥ I have found quite a few websites, like Persnickety Prints, that offer great tutorials.
Most phone cameras have settings that help increase lighting, reduce glare, and have filters. Take advantage of the grid-lines to help with lining up those scrapbook layouts and avoid zooming in whenever possible. It’s temping to zoom-in, but photos always turn out better when you get closer.
If you have a tendency to shake – which happens to me after five cups of coffee – look into a camera/phone tri-pod with a remote shutter. I use my remote shutter often for photos and videos.
Backdrops & Negative Space
These two go hand-in-hand. Your backdrops need to be neutral and match the theme♥ of your project. Backdrops are also a great way to “brand” yourself. Most of mine have a rustic, vintage, or retro theme. I prefer to use wood planks behind most of my photos, but occasionally, to match the theme, I will go with a vintage or retro backdrop. Quite a few of my backdrops are matte vinyl wooden photography backdrops cut down to match the size of specific projects, but I have been known to use pattern paper behind some of my smaller designs.
When you are picking out your backdrop, you need to think about how much of it will show up in the negative space of your photograph. You need negative space around your project to create emotion, a setting, and a way to point to the focal point in your photo. You don’t want it to overpower your project – you want it to say “look at what I made”.
You don’t always have to use a backdrop behind your subject.♥ There have been times that I have gone outside and taken a photo in the flowers, or sat a project in a Christmas tree, or even placed it on a shelf in my craft space. As long as what you place in the background matches your overall theme and showcases your creations.
Staging the Photo
Speaking of that collection of stuffs in the background – this is called “staging”. My array of staging material ranges between the products I used to items that just make me happy. You do not want to go overboard with the staging (remember that negative space we talked about?)
FIVE things to remember when staging:
- Keep it balanced – heavily weighted objects are usually at the bottom of the photo
- Create repetition – color, shape, size, and item
- Form a visual triangle – make the eye flow through your photograph
- Create height & depth – layer items atop each other, stagger height, place items behind
- Stick with the theme – invoke mood, movement, or ambiance
Can you see how I used each of those techniques in these photos?♥ Some of those cards are laying on stamping blocks to create height and depth. Most of the items in the photos are thematic embellishments from my stash that evoke a mood that correlates to the project. I often repeat colors, shapes, and textures all while maintaining a good amount of negative space.
Use Natural Light
You are going to want to take advantage of natural light as often as you can. It creates “real color” in your photos and prevents the overexposure that is caused by a flash. Remember when I told you that I am a cheapskate who uses very little to take photos? Check out my set-up.♥
Seriously, is this how you pictured it? Cropping is an amazing tool. 😏
As you can see, I am taking advantage of the natural light from my window and using a reflector (a poster board) to help reduce the amount of shadows on my subject. All of this sits atop my desk chair so that I can rotate it to create the lighting I am trying to achieve.
We are blessed to live in a location where is it sunny about 70% of the year, but what about those cloudy or snowy days?
That is where artificial light comes into play. I try to avoid using my flash as often as possible unless it is a well-lit space and I am trying to soften some dark shadows behind or beneath my subject. When there is no chance of that sun peeking out from behind the clouds, I reach for these beauties – Tripod LED Lights.
To be honest, they were a bit of an investment, but they are worth it. I can raise and lower them for photos and videos, adjust the amount of light, and there are filters (which I have no idea how to use, yet, but I will someday.) The only downfall is that they only work with a battery pack or USB port, but I have those all over my craft space, so they work great for me.
Did you imagine that it could be so simple?♥ As you can see, I don’t have a massive photo studio or an array of light boxes, reflectors, or filters. I use what I have in my craft space to create a photo that shows off my creation. If all else fails, there is always great editing software to change exposure, color, and correct the photos.
I hope that today’s post has given you some tips & tricks for taking better photos of your projects. You don’t have to go out and spend a ton of money to have great photos. Work with what you have, with what you have got, and learn how to use that camera.
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