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Published on October 14th, 2016 | by Eric

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Improve your photos with these simple tips!

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You don’t need the most expensive camera or gear to take great photos of your projects. Here are some simple tips that will help you get the best results whether you take a quick snap using your mobile phone or a professional camera set up.

Lighting

A photo is nothing more than your camera’s sensor gathering light, so it goes without saying that lighting is the most important aspect of taking a good photo. It can make or break your images!

When you see a professional product photo, most of the time the photographer is using something called a softbox, which is nothing more than a flash in a big box with a white diffuser on the front side. You might not have a softbox handy, but you probably do have something very similar: an everyday window.

Window lighting is one of the most flattering light sources, as the sun acts as a flash, and the window as the front of the softbox. Adding a thin white sheet or curtain can help diffuse the light and reduce harsh shadows for even better photos.

You should always avoid taking photos in mixed lighting. For instance, taking a photo in a room with window lighting, a fluorescent light from above, and a tungsten bulb in a lamp. Without getting too technical, this situation will give you strange results with different colour “temperatures” or shades.

For best results, turn off all artificial lights, place your project by a window, and utilize that beautiful natural light. If you need to shoot at night, or it’s just too cloudy outside and you can’t wait for a brighter day, try and make sure you only use one type of light source.

Can you tell which lighting situation these three images were shot under?

lighting for product photos

The image on the left was shot with an on-camera flash. You can see the ugly shadow on the wall, and the blue lighting. The middle image was shot under fluorescent lighting, hence its flat boring feel. The last image utilized the great natural window light. Can you can see how much better it looks!

Composition

Once you understand lighting you’ll notice that your photos will immediately start to look better. We’re not done yet though! The next piece of the photo puzzle is composition. There have been countless books written on this subject, but we’re going to give you the foundations here.

Take a moment to think about how to compose your image when you’re laying out your project and aiming your camera. There are certain “rules” to follow, like the rule of thirds, but in general, you can learn a lot from looking at the way that photos are shot on our website, or in your favorite craft magazine.

 

bad-composition

The image above has way too much empty space, this is an example of poor composition. The next image was stylized so the hat looks full, and is filling the frame, much better!

This clutch is beautiful, but the photo doesn’t show off its true potential. Can you see what’s wrong? For one, the image is boring and doesn’t show the clutch in action. There are also some strange things happening with the lighting, right? On the left side you can see the natural light from the window, and then on the top there’s an ugly yellow/orange light coming from the room’s artificial lighting. The background color also clashes with the lovely color of the clutch. Let’s liven this image up by adding a model!

clutch-bad-lighting

This is much better, it shows the item how it’s mean to be used, the lighting is better, and it’s just a more interesting image:

clutch

Styling your subject

There are countless ways to shoot your newest creation, but let’s take a look at a few of the best methods.

Wear it like you mean it

If you’ve made something that is meant to be worn, what better way to display it than on a model? Now you don’t need to go out and hire a real model, a friend or family member will do just fine. One thing to think about is posing your model. Look at these two images below of Ed wearing this super-cool MillaMia hat. 

good-model-bad-model

The photo on the left is of course purposely bad. How many mistakes can you spot? Bad posture, untucked shirt, busy background, camera flash, subject staring into the distance… The one on the right looks much better! Ed is smiling, standing up straight, and we used a great big window for some nice soft lighting.

Lay down Sally

Lay downs have been extremely popular recently, and as such they become harder and harder to make unique. If you decide to go for it and shoot a lay down, there are a few things you want to think about. Firstly, don’t clutter your image with too many accessories and items. This will take away from your main subject. I’ve seen many images with mugs, phones, small plants, even a pet cat. When used sparingly and tastefully, these items can accentuate your subject, just remember not to overdo it.

Secondly, think about your background.  A plain background is often the best, although textured backgrounds like brick walls, or wooden floors or tables can also look great depending on the item your shooting. I’ve seen one too many photos that were shot on a bed sheet, that although is a plain background, has distracting wrinkles.

This image below has just the right amount of supporting accessories, and they aren’t out of place in this situation.

crochet-blanket-hexagon

Hang on Sloopy

Some items such as scarves and shawls can look great when hung from a hook or hanger. Just make sure that you style the item so that it looks nice and presentable. The same rules from above apply here as well: avoid clutter and busy backgrounds. Also, if you’re going to use a clothes hanger, choose a nice wooden one, not a cheap plastic or wire hanger from the dry cleaners.

hanging-blanket

It’s all in the details

You’ve spent so much time working on intricate stitches and designs, why not show them off with a few great detail shots? For some items this might mean just shooting a portion of the pattern, while other items might require really close-up images. Many point-and-shoot cameras have a close-up or “macro” setting (usually an icon of a flower). If you don’t have that setting, or if you’re using your phone’s camera, just get as close as your camera allows you to focus.

detail

Well there you have it, these simple tips should help put you on the path towards better photos for your projects. Remember, we all want your hard work to look as best as possible! A special thanks to Therese for knitting and crocheting the lovely bird hat, blanket, and blanket hexagon, and to Amanda for making the alpaca doll. Happy knitting, and happy shooting!

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About the Author

is a photographer, copywriter, rock climber, skier, traveler, and aspiring knitter. His work has been been published in many international newspapers, magazines, websites, books and even a billboard in Brooklyn. Crochet is the best.


Last updated: October 17th, 2016.

18 Responses to Improve your photos with these simple tips!

  1. Barbara Richards says:

    Hi Eric,
    I just wanted to say how much I appreciated your clear and easy to follow tips on how to photograph projects. I found them really helpful, and you’ve encouraged me to have a go!
    Many thanks,
    Barb

  2. Liz Herd says:

    Helpful suggestions – and not too technical! Thank you.

  3. Betsey says:

    Great article. Thank you.
    Is the pattern for the bird beanie available? I have been unable to locate it on your site.

    • Therese says:

      Hi, the pattern is called Passerine hat by Erica Heusser, you can find it easily with a Google search 🙂

  4. Barbara says:

    Great article, is the pattern for the scarf available?

    • Therese says:

      Hi, the pattern is called August baby blanket and is free. You can easily modify it to make a scarf (cast on less stitches and knit it longer), the pattern is currently only available in the Loveknitting app.

  5. Nora McGRANN says:

    Really enjoyed reading all these wonderful tips…now it’s just REMEMBERING them!!

    • Eric says:

      Thanks Nora! You can just bookmark this page and pull it up any time you’re about to take some photos. After a few times, it all becomes second nature.

  6. Kathleen march says:

    Please cancel all further emails. I will not be here!!!!!

  7. su ms says:

    Hello eric!
    I like the tips which im working on it.Im taking baby dress photos. Can you suggest which is better, to photograph horizontal or diagonal pictures?
    My homemade softbox is just enough to cover the photo background.

    • Eric says:

      Hi Su! Thanks for your question. Are you shooting the dresses laying flat, or hanging? For some good inspiration, take a look at how the blankets are styled in this post: http://blog.lovecrochet.com/crochet-girl-gang-cal-launch/

      Let me know if you have any more questions, thanks!

      Eric

      • su ms says:

        Hello again, Eric!

        I’m thinking of laying the baby dress flat. Put on white lace background and sprinkle some colourful buttons around.

        WOW, the blanket photograph is a very good inspiration. It looks so exclusive for flat pieces. I would love to try it <3. Thanks a lot for your suggestion.

  8. Jacqui says:

    Great article Eric, so many useful tips

  9. Carol-Dawn says:

    Thank you for the great tips. I will put them into practice from now on. Again thank you.

  10. Dot Lumb says:

    I am a magazine editor and whilst your tips are great for sharing images on the internet, a real camera, even a compact one, delivers better quality for print every time. It is very difficult to get this message across as phone pics can look great on screen, but the physically smaller lens and sensor do not deliver the same image quality as the larger ones in a dedicated camera, let alone the quality that can be achieved with a DSLR.

    • Eric says:

      Hi Dot, I agree that most of the time a (current) DSLR or mirrorless camera will be better than a phone or a point-and-shoot for most applications. It is worth noting, especially to non-photographers, that for the purpose of posting projects to the online LoveKnitting or LoveCrochet community, a recent mobile phone’s camera combined with good lighting and composition can achieve amazing results.

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