Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crafting Your Business--Better Photos, Pt.1

I've been experimenting with ways to take better photos of my work. In this series, I'll share some things that have helped me, and might be of help to you in taking photos of your crafts. I'm calling this series the Ineffectual Photographer's Guide to Possibly Somewhat Better Photography :)

Here is a pic of my books using natural light. I used a table next to a big window, and took the shots with the light coming in from the left side. The picture is a little dark, but that can be fixed with photo editing software, as I'll explain below.

Backgrounds are really important, as they can help create an identity for your work. Because I use natural materials for my books, I thought it would be good to use wood as the background. It gives my business more of an identifiable look than the plain white backgrounds I had been using.

A nice background doesn't have to be expensive. I live and work in an old Craftsman style house (built in 1922), so I raided the little storage area under the eaves, and found some nice old red fir boards that I use for many of my photos, like the one here.

I took some pics, then used Photoshop to lighten them up a bit (Etsy has a good tutorial on how to do this: http://www.etsy.com/storque/section/howTos/article/on-the-level-make-your-photos-pop-with-histograms-and-levels/547/ ).
I think I'm probably still being a bit timid with the Photoshop effects, but overall I'm pretty happy with the result. The best thing about using Photoshop is that you don't have to wait for the sun to come out to get good shots. Another good photo editing software is Google's Picasa, which you can download for free.
Just to compare, here is a pic that I took using an Ego lighting system. Natural light be much better!
When I took this, I discovered another issue, which was that you need to use the macro setting on the camera when taking close-ups. Otherwise the pictures will be out of focus and look fuzzy. If you are having trouble with fuzzy pictures, it may be because you need to use the macro setting. On many cameras, it's the button with the flower on it; otherwise, consult your camera's instruction book. Another important thing is to NEVER use the flash--it really makes the item look harsh and unattractive.

So, to recap, here are some things that can improve your photos:

1. Use natural light

2. Use the macro setting on your camera for close-up shots
3. Never use the flash.

4. Use Photoshop or other editing software to make dark photos lighter & brighter.

The quest for Possibly Somewhat Better Photographs will, of course, continue. If you have any other good tips for ineffectual photographers, please leave them in the comments!


Donna said...

Half the battle is documenting what you're doing so you'll know what to try next! I commend you on your efforts...and on your books, too!

If you want to see how I take my photos, here's a tutorial on my blog:

Chole said...

I ran across your blog thanks to my stat counter log. I love this : Ineffectual Photographer's Guide to Possibly Somewhat Better Photography. That's *exactly* what I've been doing. I think you're making better progress than I am though. Your books look beautiful!

moonbindery said...

Thanks, Chole! I'm hoping the guide will somewhat help other "ineffectual photographers" (and we know who we are :))

Thanks, also, Donna, for posting the link to your tutorial. I'm so thankful for all the online photo tutorials--without them, I'd still be trying to figure out why my photos are so fuzzy!