Monday, August 7, 2017

Beginning Photography Tips for Papercrafters {Plus a POP ART card!}

Hello friends! Are you a paper crafter who creates cards, tags, and other crafted goodies? Do you post them to your blog, Instagram, or Facebook? Do you struggle with photographing your lovely projects? 

Let me preface this entire blog post by saying over and over again that I am NOT a highly trained photographer. Everything I've learned, I've learned from practice, plus other helpful blog posts.

This blog post is written especially for those of you who feel overwhelmed with the idea of taking high quality photos for social media. You may be just beginning to share your craft with others. Or you've been doing this for a while - but you're ready to step up your game. So, take a deep breath. Be brave. Nothing fancy here - I promise, you CAN do this! (And if you're reading this, and you know better than I do, please share your tips with me! I still have LOTS to learn!) 

For today's post I created a fun Pop Art card using Fun Stampers Journey's Pop Art stamp set. Let's look at a variety of photographs, and grow as we go!

1. Shoot straight, and watch for shadows!
When photographing a card laying down flat, shoot STRAIGHT down, rather than at an angle (Photo 1.)  Get above your card instead of shooting it from where you're sitting. The card shape on the left looks distorted because of the angle I'm holding my phone. It's also dark - so very dark!

Photo 1 (awkward angle and dark)
Photo 2 (Say no to shadows!)

Photo 2 is shot from straight above. It's looking better already, yes? (Photographing on my grid paper makes it pretty easy to shoot straight because I can line it all up.) But we still have a light source in this photo is too close to my poor card, and my hand/phone is obstructing the light, causing a nice big shadow. Boo. The shadow is distracting, and the light is uneven. 

2. Use a simple background
Sidenote: Some people like to photograph their cards straight down, and others prefer cards standing up. I've gone back and forth on my preference over the years. Currently, I'm a shoot-it-straight-down kinda girl. But when shooting them standing up, it's important to have a clean, clear background. See all that mess on my desk? Not contributing to my Pop Art girl's happiness. She's on the verge of tears, and she's telling me, "You can't be serious!" (It's also another example of an awkward angle.)

For the next photos, I switched from my phone to my actual camera. Remember cameras? Sometimes they come in handy, especially since I don't have a fancy camera on my phone. It's worth the extra few minutes! 
Oooh more progress! I have a piece of white corrugated cardstock I like to use for backgrounds. It's just a 12x12 sheet of scrapbook paper. I always prefer WHITE to BLACK for a background because I find it easier to achieve a BRIGHT clean background with a light color. (Other easy options might be a very simple piece of patterned paper, the back white side of a roll of wrapping paper, or a piece of wood.) This photo is totally unedited. It's a little dark, but other than that, it's just fine, especially if you're just starting out. No weird shadows or awkward angles, and nothing distracting in the background. 

But do you want to take it up a notch? Read on!

3. Add a layer, and brighten it up!
Now we're talking! Again, still super simple. I added a plain white box for some dimension and shape under my card. Look at this photo compared to the one right above. See how much brighter it is? I'll talk about that in just a second...

4. Add SIMPLE props. (Or not!) 
Another personal preference...props or no props. I like it both ways, as long as the props aren't overboard. I tend to use coordinating supplies for simple props. But no matter what, I aim to keep the FOCUS on the PROJECT.
5. Let's talk about LIGHTING
Lighting is the hardest aspect of taking good photos. Aim for diffused natural light. I don't have appropriate lights, so I just don't take photos at night. I wait till midmorning because that seems to be the golden photography hour in my house. 

Here's the not-at-all-fancy setup that I use. I'm thankful for the big bright windows in my bedroom. I do most of my photography on top of the chest right there. Even with the windows, my photos still need a little brightening help. I have a white piece of foam core board from Walmart. Depending on the light, sometimes I prop it up in the window to diffuse that bright light so I don't have glaring shadows. Sometimes I use it to bounce and reflect the light. There are some great tutorials to explain this idea further! (like Leanne at Healthful Pursuit)

6. Let's talk about photo EDITING
Breathe with me people. Don't start panicking about the words photo editing. You don't need Photoshop. You don't need anything fancy. If this is your jam, and you want to go all out, GO FOR IT. Take a class, use Photoshop, have a blast. It can be super fun. 

But I'm talking to those of you who are intimidated, and taking baby steps. 

There are two things I generally use. The first is my phone's photo editing program (generally to brighten up a dark photo, or crop it, when I've taken a quick pic on my phone.) Whether I'm on my phone, or uploading photos to my computer, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the website/app called Picmonkey.  Picmonkey can handle pretty much anything you want to do (including fun things like making collages or adding text/watermarks.) Plus, almost all you'd want to do is FREE. And I think it's pretty easy to use too. I highly recommend checking it out! 

The main things I do when I edit my photos are: brighten the exposure, adjust the color cast (thats when your photo looks really blue, green, or yellow, depending on your light) and then sharpen just a bit. 

Don't be afraid to experiment and play to discover what works for you, and what you like. Photography involves a lot of trial and error. When you take photos, take a lot of them to see what works best. When you choose to edit them, play around and try different effects to see what they do. Creating beautiful cards and paper crafts is a fabulous hobby, and for many people, it's a source of income too - so let your projects SHINE and INSPIRE by taking bright beautiful photos!

If you'd like to find more tips and ideas, I've created a Pinterest board to collect photography, and blogging information. I'd love for you to check it out and learn along with me! Please email me or comment below if you have any tips to help ME, or questions I might be able to answer. We're all in this together, my friends!!!!


Karen Schroeder said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Laura! Your info and tips are amazing! Off to take some photos!

Laura Williams said...

Yay!!!! Have FUN Karen!

Unknown said...

Great post Laura! Thank you for sharing your expertise with us!
Lynn Leusch

Nancy said...

What a great post, very informative!
Is that a stamp? I am serious!

Carrie Rhoades said...

Great post! I love the card and your tips on photos for your blog. Thanks.