By Craft-ographer I mean of course the crafter who has need to photograph their work. What once was an entirely optional skill now seems absolutely vital if you have any interest in sharing your work on-line. If you want to work with companies or be on design teams of course you’re going to have to work on this – but even if you simply want to share your creations with friends and family who live far away via your own blog, facebook, or on-line galleries this is something to work on!
picture of me taking a picture at CHA, taken by Melissa Stinson
While having a really great camera can help things, even people with the most expensive camera in the world could take horrible photos that don’t do their project justice if they aren’t setting up a good photo spot in the first place. So here today I thought I’d share my ten rules for craft project photography. You know I’m not real big on rules with crafting, but here’s the thing. There are some seriously simple but fatal mistakes people make that could be avoided, and really help their projects to shine! Here they are in no particular order:
1. Never, for any reason use a flash. Ever. EVER. [unless you are a professional photographer with professional equipment and have won major awards with flash photography or some such thing that otherwise indicates that you definitely know what you’re doing.]
2. Never, for any reason, photograph your project in direct sunlight. Indirect natural light is always the goal. Play with different spots around your house to find your ideal project photo spots- including time of day, how much light, etc. Outside on a cloudy/rainy day can work great too! If you have to photograph early morning or after dark – then invest in a light box type set up.
3. Take no less than a dozen photos of your project. minimum. These are digital photos, it isn’t costing you to take more. Some are going to be blurry. Some sharper than others. True story: At CHA I took two photos every time I went to photograph something – never a single shot. If I moved a bit? another two shots. Different angle? 2 more shots. Slighltly more zoomed in? You got it, 2 shots. If you go through my CHA photos you’ll see one is always slightly sharper, slightly brighter, slightly BETTER than the other. ALWAYS. And those are photos where I didn’t move or change a thing. Point? Take a LOT of photos
4. Stop trying to photograph stuff on pure white backgrounds unless you really know your stuff. It usually shows up with a blue tint, and unless you know your way around manual mode of your fancy camera + photo editing software and are really good at color correction, just don’t.
5. DO look at your project and consider if a light/dark/soft/bright background is best and will contrast well with it. Don’t underestimate how much difference your background can make if this is a card, tag, or altered project that will have background showing.
6. If you have a point & shoot camera and there is a little flower icon – try that. I used to find with my former cameras that having that on (vs not) helped capture my tiny details better.
7. Slight changes matter. A tilt to the left, slightly above, a little too low. All of this matters which is why #3 is a rule.
8. Set the camera down if your hand isn’t rock steady or your light isn’t perfect. Have you ever seen a person move the whole camera when they go to take a photo? True story we were out to dinner and I have a bunch of lovely pics of my family. Except the one of us as a group. Why? Because the person I handed it to was all wiggly and DUDE – the camera can only do so much with that. I often rest my camera on the back of a chair when taking project photos in less than perfect light – makes a huge difference!
9. Know how to use at least some basic photo editing program that is in your computer or phone. A bit of sharpening, cropping, or even just auto-correct can help really make your picture improve and compensate for imperfect lighting or a basic camera on auto mode.
10. Finally, do look at people who do photograph projects beautifully, and ask yourself what you like about their pictures! I think it helps build your own craft photo style AND you can identify things that you want to do better in your own photos.
I can have photos on my iPhone that are nearly as good as my fancy DSLR camera *if* I’m following these rules! When I didn’t have a camera for a few weeks I was able to use my iPhone and nobody really noticed the difference because by doing all of these things I set myself up for better, sharper, clearer photos.
The bottom line is, whether you want to sell items via etsy or make it onto design teams for companies, be a craft blogger or just want to share your latest creation with your crafty friend across the country it doesn’t take much to make sure you’re getting your best possible photos from your camera. And it doesn’t take a fancy or expensive camera to get nice photos either.