Improve your photos with these simple tips!
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Last updated: October 17th, 2016.