Taking Photos Inside My Craft Space

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:

  1. Keep it balanced – heavily weighted objects are usually at the bottom of the photo
  2. Create repetition – color, shape, size, and item
  3. Form a visual triangle – make the eye flow through your photograph 
  4. Create height & depth – layer items atop each other, stagger height, place items behind 
  5. 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

Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. By clicking on those links, and making a purchase, your are helping to support my small business. This is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.

It’s A Let It Shimmer Technique Blog Hop

Welcome to another Technique Blog Hop where we will be showing you a variety of shimmery techniques as we highlight a few of our current Close to My Heart products!100609256_10157717189973096_3386834617750257664_n  If you have come here from Krista Hershberger’s Blog, you are on the right path! When you are finished taking a look at my shimmery Out of This World cards and  learning some Shimmer Brush techniques, you can click on the link at the end to move to the next blog. This blog hop is simple, fun, and full of ideas.  If you get lost along the way, you’ll find the complete list of participating consultants on Melissa’s Blog.

For this blog hop, I had a hard time deciding what type to video to create – a tips & tricks or a process video – so I decided to do both.  I had so much fun using my Shimmer Brushes to create these three Out of This World cards and I couldn’t wait to share them with you.  

Before we get into the tips & tricks portion of this post, I want to show you a few close-ups of those globe die cuts. These were cut using the Thin Cut from our Aurora Cardmaking kitAren’t those just stunning?? I just love the look of old globes. 

I used our Shimmer Brushes to create the splattered backgrounds and shade two of the globes.  If you would like to know how I made each one of these, you are in luck.  I will be posting a video tutorial on my YouTube Channel later in the week to go along with the video tutorial I have posted below.  

Today, I am going to give you a few Tips when it comes to using our Shimmer Brushes.  I have also included a short little five minute video for you to view. 

For those of you who may want to skip this tutorial and move on with the hop, you can click this link to move on to Melissa Robinson’s Blog.

Please take a few minute to subscribe to my channel & comment to let me know what you thought about this tutorial.

TIP #1: Store Shimmer Brushes Upright

This may seem obvious to some, but I realized recently that many people do not know that you should always store them upright.  When they are stored upside down, the ink can drip into the lid and create quite the mess when you open it. 

I like to store mine in our Workspace Wonder Tool Caddy, but I have also seen them stored in a Mason jar or coffee cup. 

TIP #2: Pull the Lid to Open – Do Not Twist

This is another little blunder I have seen commonly done with our Shimmer Brushes. Many people will “twist” the lid open, unsealing the ink within and creating quite the mess. (Just ask my 10 year old niece how fun that is.) 

Now, there are a few times that you might want to twist open that brush which leads us to my next tip. 

TIP #3: Twist to Release Pressure

I often travel to locations in the mountains where there is an increase in elevation and, when I take my Shimmer Brushes, the pressure increases in the base causing it to drip ink all over when I go to use it.  I have found that I can release that built-up pressure by carefully unscrewing the tip and pulling out the brush, then tightly screwing the tip back on. 

After I have replaced the brush tip, I will brush the excess ink off onto my All Purpose Mat or a scrap piece of paper before I begin to use it. 

There you have it.  Just a few tips & tricks for using those awesome Shimmer Brushes in your stash. Oh, by the way – our shimmer brushes are NOT labeled with the colors at the top. That is something I did using a label maker

I can’t wait to share with you how I made each one of those Out of This World cards. I will be posting the process video, later this week, showing you how I used a few of my Shimmer Brushes to create backgrounds, blend watercolors, and create a blended alcohol-ink-like look. Now ‘Hop” on over to Melissa Robinson’s Blog to see her work!  Be sure to visit all the Consultants at their blogs to get some great crafting tips and other fun ideas for using Shimmer on your projects.  

Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. By clicking on those links, and making a purchase, your are helping to support my small business. This is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.

A Rainy Day Shaker Card & Cricut Tutorial

For the Green Color Dare Challenge

This week, I am bringing you a little inspiration for the Color Dare Challenge and gifting you with Cricut video tutorial to show you how I made today’s project. Before I show you my Rainy Day Shaker card, I want to remind you how to join this week’s color challenge. 


Use ONLY the colors and neutral tones identified. When you are creating for more than one challenge please make sure your project meets our requirement.

Please link up your project to the Color Dare Blog before May 28th

Like the grass in my backyard, this challenge is all green. With the rain we have been having lately, my “desert” home looks more like something from the northwestern states.  Each day the clouds roll in, and I am happy to see the rain come down. That is what inspired me to create this Rainy Day Shaker card. 

Although it is very hard to see in the photo, this card has quite a bit of green on and in it.  The design started out with a card image I found in the Artfully Sent Cricut collection.  In my tutorial, I show you how I used the Slice Tool to turn the front of this card into a shaker frame. 

Once the images had been cut out, I stamped a sentiment onto the front of the card using Evergreen ink.  The sentiment is from another one of my favorite stamp sets in the May/June catalog – A Million Little Things.  I can’t wait to show you the other cards I make with this one. 

I chose to use vellum instead to acetate to represent the clouds that lay low in my yard each morning after a rain storm. It’s hard to see in the photo, but there is some green plaid paper and Julep sequins hanging out behind that opaque vellum. 

The plaid paper is from our new Aurora collection. This collection has an outdoorsy feel and is the perfect complement to this rainy day card.  I like how subtle and soft it all feels – just like the morning fog. 

For those who would like to make a Rainy Day Shaker card of their own, I have created a simple Cricut Tutorial & Process Video.  This video will walk you through creating the card in Cricut Design Space and assembling it afterwards. 

Please take a few minutes to subscribe to my channel and hit the thumbs up button if you enjoyed the tutorial

I hope that today’s project inspired you to take another look at the Artfully Sent Cricut collection and create a shaker card of your own.  We would love for you to share that creation with us at the Color My Heart Color Dare Challenge blog

Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. By clicking on those links, and making a purchase, your are helping to support my small business. This is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Here is a List of the Supplies Used on My Project

Blue Skies NSM Blog Hop

Welcome to the Blue Skies Blog Hop where each of our talented creators will be sharing a project using our May Special – the Blue Skies Collection. 94351095_10157392412787686_1564409960320729088_nIf you have come here from the sweet Katy Taylor’s blog you are on the right path!  When you are finished reading about my summer banner project, you can click on the link at the end to move to the next blog.   If you get lost along the way, you’ll find the complete list of participants on Melinda’s Blog

Before I tell you about my project, let me just say – I LOVE THIS COLLECTION!  The papers, the pattern cardstock, the stickers, and THAT PIN WHEEL! I just cannot get enough of it, my friends, and after you go through this hop, you are going to want to get some for yourself.  I have been having so much fun creating with this collection, and enjoy the look of it so much, that I decided to create a Summer Banner for my craft space. 

How fun is that?!♥ Doesn’t it just scream summertime? The whole banner was created in Cricut Design Space, then cut from the Blue Skies Papers & Patterned Cardstock.  I wish you could see all those raised images on the coated cardstock. It adds to much to this design. 

Not only are the cardstocks divine, but the patterns on these papers are simply charming.  As I was thumbing through each of the papers for today’s project, I couldn’t choose just one, so I used them all.  While creating this project in Design Space, I added cut-lines to each kite image so that I could create a patchwork to show off those patterns. 

Of course, I couldn’t stop there – I still had Stickers and a Pinwheel Thin Cut to use.  If you have seen any photos of my craft space, you know that there is a bicycle theme, which meant that I had to use that lovely bike on my banner.  Each end of the banner is layered with stickers and a simple Pinwheel created with that Thin Cut. 

To finish it off, I added some wooden buttons, some red dots, and a few bits of ribbon. I can’t wait to hang this on my window in my craft space. 

I hope that you enjoyed today’s Blue Skies project and were inspired to make a banner of your own.  Now ‘Hop” on over to Lauren Moore’s blog to see her work! Be sure to visit all the Consultants at their blogs to get some great crafting tips and other fun ideas. 

Remember, the Blue Skies collection is only available, while supplies last, until May 31st.  Contact your CTMH Consultant, or visit the Promotions tab of my website to learn how you can save 30% on the entire collection! 

Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. By clicking on those links, and making a purchase, your are helping to support my small business. This is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Stamp Storage in My Craft Space

Welcome to another sneak peek into my craft space!  This month, we are going tackle the stamp collection which is ever-growing and difficult to maintain in our craft rooms.  To help you out,  I am going to show you a few ways to store your stamps and keep track of the stamps that you own.  I have even included a short little video to help you start organizing your accumulation of images. 

If you are like me, your collection has grown over the years, so I suggest that you to FIRST go through all of your stamps sets.  Be honest with yourself and gift-away a few that you haven’t used in the last three years.  It’s okay …. there will always be more wonderful creations from Close to My Heart and you need to make room for them.  

Now that you have gone through you stamp collection, you are ready to start organizing them in your craft space. 

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As you search the Pinterest rabbit hole, you will see that there are so many wonderful ways to store your stamp sets.  I am going to show you a few that I have used in the past, what I use now, and how I keep track of the stamps I have in my collection. 

My Acrylix Storage Boxes

When I first started adding stamps to my collection, I purchased some Mini Stamp Organizers and quite a few My Acrylix Organizers.  (As a consultant, I was able to use my half-price hostess rewards to add to my collection each month.

Each one of these are made from hard plastic and have divider inserts. The Mini Organizer holds smaller stamps like our 3-inch M-Size stamp sets, while the larger organizer is designed to hold our 6½” clear stamps. You can decorate the outside, add labels, and stack them on a shelf where you store your stamps.  When I moved into my new craft space, I needed a new way to store my stamps. 

Decorative Storage Boxes

In my new space I wanted more of a decorative, vintage feel and I needed my stamps to be stored on the wall. If you had read any of my previous Craft Space posts, you know that I use the wall for most of my storage. My wonderful husband came up with solution. 

These “shelves” are actually altered fryer baskets destined for the trash. My sweet husband cleaned, painted, and attached some decorative wood slats to them to hold some storage boxes I found at Michaels.  To add to the vintage feel of my space, I added some Ornate Metal Frames with stamped labels on the front. Each box holds about forty sets of stamps in two rows of twenty and they are easily brought down from the wall when I need them. 

Travel Stamp Storage

When I take my stamps to workshops or retreats, I do not bring all of my big decorative boxes. misscarriescreations-TravelStampCaseInstead, I grab a few of my Travel Stamp Cases.  Not only do these store flat when not in use, but they are easy to fill and toss into a bag when I am packing for an event. 

If you are handy with a Cricut, you could easily personalize these fabric totes with iron-on decorations. 

Keeping Track of ALL those Stamps

If you watch the video, you will see that at one time I created a print-out of each stamp set I own, placed on a book binder ring, and stored it in the box.  Now that my collection has grown and I have become diligent about gifting away stamps every six months, I have found a new way to keep track of what I have. 

Evernote has become my new go-to organizer for stamps. It’s basically my little binder-ring of images that goes with me everywhere – on my phone, on my tablet, and on my laptop.  I can search the stamps set I own for images, phrases, and icons without having to dig through bins of stamps.  

I especially like that I can add a note showing the last time I used a particular stamp set.  When it comes time to gift-way stamps, I can see which ones I used more often and which ones I rarely used.  It makes purging so much easier. 

I hope that you were inspired to start going through your stamp stash and found a few new ways to organize them.   Hopefully, in the near future, I will give you a full Craft Space tour, but for now I will be offering little sneak peeks into my world. 

Next month, we will be tackling the Cricut collection – one of my favorites – and I will show you a few new ideas for storing your Cricut crafting items.  

Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. By clicking on those links, and making a purchase, your are helping to support my small business. This is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.