Friday, April 22, 2016

How To Photograph and Edit Your Craft Projects - Part 1

Hello Friends,

This is Poornima. Thank you Priya for giving me this opportunity. I will be sharing two posts. One on capturing good photos of your craft, which is today's post and other one is about editing your photos using photo editing software.

Creating arts and crafts is fun and exciting in itself and best part is to share your creation with others on websites, blogs and social media. But sometimes beautiful handmade items do not get enough appreciation. Do you know the reason behind it?? Ok let me tell you. Reason is poor and uninspired photos. Such images are deprived of quality and fail to represent the details.  

In this post I shall share few tips on capturing eye-catching pictures of your projects and making it more presentable after editing using image editing software. Like you, I am also a crafter not a photographer, so information shared here is a research work from different sites I have came across plus my personal experience. I hope you will benefit from it. I will be throwing light on following points -

(1) Learn Your Camera Settings
(2) Lighting
(3) Background
(4)  Props Usage
(5)  Angles
Let's get started.

P.S. - A picture heavy post

(1)    Learn Your Camera Settings-It is not necessary to buy a super-expensive professional camera. I am using sony cyber-shot and totally love it. You can get good pictures with your home cameras too. But for this study your camera well. Learn to use it's settings. Camera's manual will guide you. Few things about camera I would like to mention here -
-          Avoid Using Flash- Flash will over illuminate the scene, eliminating the background entirely and brightly lighting a portion of the subject.
-          Use Macro Mode- Use your camera’s ‘macro’ setting for close-up shots especially when you are capturing small items like jewelry or minute detail like in albums. The macro setting of your camera allows you to focus from much closer than normal subjects.
-          Make Use of ISO Settings- Digital cameras have a setting called ISO that determines the sensitivity of the sensor to light. In lower light when you use automatic settings on your camera, it is programmed to use a higher ISO setting to help keep shutter speeds up and minimize blurriness due to camera movement. Unfortunately, higher ISO settings come at the expense of greater digital noise (speckles of incorrect color or value). Manually select an ISO of 100 or as close to that as your camera allows.
Set your ISO as low as you can but remember to avoid handshake. For product photographs shot from a tripod you don't need the faster shutter speeds that higher ISOs permit, and lower ISOs means less noise (meaning smoother original pictures) and that less or no noise reduction needs to be applied (meaning sharper smooth pictures).
-          Set Your White Balance- Many times white color looks blue. This used to happen with me many times. Look at this explosion box. The white background looks blue and even pastel color is not captured properly.

Reason is wrong WB camera setting according to shooting environment. All light has a color cast. Different light sources have different colors; sunshine is yellowy, tungsten/incandescent light bulbs are orangey, fluorescent tubes tend to be green-ish. If you take a photograph which contains something white and you want it to look white - you need to tell the camera to compensate for whatever color cast your light source has. This is the white balance (WB) feature of your camera. Most cameras will have an Auto WB setting and several pre-sets for particular scenarios.

You can choose the appropriate one for your lighting conditions: cloudy for outdoors in shade, tungsten for typical light bulbs, or fluorescent. Many cameras provide for reading a custom white balance by taking an exposure of a white or gray card.

(2) Lighting - Light is probably the most important thing to think about when trying to take a great photograph. Light creates your image - use it wisely. As a general rule, the light should be behind you NOT behind your subject i.e. never stand your subject in front of a window. Remember that light has two purposes - to reveal and to create shadows, which hide. Make sure that wherever you are shooting and whatever you want to show (indoor or outdoor) is bathed in plenty of bright light. Here's a comparison of card shooted in low light and proper light.

If you are photographing outdoors, avoid direct harsh sunlight; indirect light in an evenly shaded area will give you great results.
If you are photographing indoors, then make sure there is enough light. For this you'll need a light source. You can use a night lamp, or bulb or a light box. You can create light box at home. There a tons of tutorials already on internet. Here are few links to help you out -

(3)    Background - Background is another important aspect of photographing cards and projects. Unless you are using a close up (or plan to crop your photograph very tightly) you need to consider the background of your photograph. I have seen many crafters shooting their projects anywhere in house i.e. on beds, floor without clearing cluttered things around the shooting space. Such backgrounds distract viewer's attention. Look at your project and then chose an appropriate background. Keep these points in mind while choosing a background -
a.       Does your background match your subject - think colors and textures?
b.      Does your subject show up against the background? If there is a mismatch between the two is this for a very specific reason?
c.       Does the background give additional information about the subject?
d.      Use neutral colors to make viewers attention on your project and not distracting background.
I usually use two thick ivory cardstock and place them perpendicular to each other i.e. one horizontally and one vertically to photograph my cards and projects and shoot outdoors. I think this is an ideal background and always works and especially when you are not able to decide some other background. My space set up looks like this -

You can also use contrasting pattern papers instead. Few examples taken from pinterest-

(4)  Props Usage - You can give a professional touch to your photos by adding props. Props can create interest to your pictures. You can use your craft supplies as your props. Like if your card has distress background, you can place stack of distress inks. If you have colored images in cards, you can place brushes nearby. Pearls, flowers, stationery, chocolates, books, ribbons etc can be used. Few examples -

(5)    Angles - Make a habit of taking several shots of your project from different angles. This will give your viewers a better idea of what your item looks like. This is important especially when you are selling your products online where customers cannot view your project in person. Your photos are the only deciding factor for selling your items. I always take around 10-15 photos from different angles and then chose the best for my post.
Take few shots at straight angle to capture front view. This is normal angle at eye level.
Take few shots at a forty five angle capture side view like a shot showing little inside details of a card.
For 3D projects also shoot at high angle where the camera is positioned above the eye level. This way you can capture top view.
Move around and take pictures at different angle. If movement is not possible due to space constraints, then turn the project around to get different views.
Take few full-size images to show your overall project. To show details keep some close up shots from different angles. Experiment with angles and you'll find what works best for you.

Few shots of my project taken from different angles to reveal overall 3d project
Straight Angle for Front View 
Card Turned to get Side View 

High Angle to get Top View  
Close Up for Showing Details 
Another example of project captured from different view 

So this wraps up my today's post. I hope you will benefit from the tips I have shared here and use them to capture your projects. Do tell us if you like this information or if you any queries. And do join me in my next post where I will be sharing  tips on photo editing.

Till Then
Happy Crafting


  1. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing details, so many points to take back

  2. Very information post Poornima! Thanks a lot for capturing all the details, I'm sure gonna bookmark this page!

  3. Very useful informations and well explained too. Thanks for sharing, Poornima.

  4. Very nicely explained Poonima ! showcasing crafts is very important specially if its on social media and for challenges ,First thing one sees is photos n then the details ! The tips you shared are very useful ,Thanks :)

  5. wonderful..such a great post..thanx

  6. Very informative post poornima,I was looking for this type of post thankyou so much ...

  7. Thanks a ton for such a useful post.Am very bad in photography.ur post ll be really helpful to u.

  8. Very useful information. Thanks poornima and priya :) eagerly awaiting for the photo editing post.

  9. Thank u for sharing so many useful tips


Please leave a comment. I shall get back to you!