You spend hours gathering your supplies, and planning your
project. You carefully craft your layout, card, or altered project to
perfection. Now you MUST share it with the world. But the photograph you've
taken of your project is grey, muddied, and unworthy of the perfection of your
project. It's defeating and frustrating when something we've worked on doesn't
Today I thought I'd share my process for photographing my
projects. Now don't run off and check my gallery to make sure I've followed
this process every time. I don't. I'll just admit that right now. Sometimes I
complete a project in the middle of the night and without a professional
photography studio and the gear to properly photograph a project in the dark, I'm left to get creative.
But this will give you one option for making your project photographs better.
Step 1: Gather Some Basic Photo Props
At the very least I suggest you invest in a white
posterboard. Yep. Really. Look for one that is matte on one side and has a bit
of gloss on the other. Not a big deal, but when you photograph your project on the glossy side it gives it a bit of reflection which is lovely.
Want something a bit more spiffy? Then look for natural
woods. I shop for cast-off desktops and cabinet pieces at my local hardware
store (or I've also found them at Ikea). I also found some beadboard that was already
painted white that I cut down to a more manageable size.
And I've even invested in some photography canvases that
look like wood. See this photo? It was taken on a photography canvas. I know!
It totally looks like real wood. You can find these canvases through Etsy or other online retailers. Make sure you purchase one large enough for your 12x12" layouts.
You will also need something to hold up your layouts. I went
the expensive route and selected two shampoo bottles to hold up my layouts.
You can use whatever works for you.
Step 2: Lighting is EVERYTHING!
Look for a room drenched in light. Not the fade the sofa,
blind your eyes kind of light; but rather the illuminate the room in soft
sunlight kind of light. Place your project near the light source. You can see right now mine is sitting on the
floor where the window light brightens the project but doesn't directly shine
Not enough light on your project? Sometimes you'll get dark
areas on your project. You'll need something white to "bounce" light
back onto your project. Again, those expensive posterboards or foam core
boards come in really handy about now. Place the posterboard where it captures
the light and bounces it back to your project. No you won't instantly notice a
bright pool of light on your project, but you will notice the entire project
looks evenly lit (sometimes I can't even see it until I develop the photo).
Step 3: To Stage or Not to Stage
That is the question isn't it? You can add additional props to your
project if you want. I've gathered a few cute things over the years that you've
likely seen pop up in my photographs. I often raid my teenager's room for her
things or my son's room for toys. I keep a box handy of props. Again, this is completely optional. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking. When I use staging, I set the project on a piece of wood and then choose a background such as beadboard or a sheet of patterned paper, or even a cute piece of fabric placed behind my project looks great.
Step 4: Close-Up Photos
Taking a few close-up photos of your projects helps the viewer see the little details on your page. I prefer to place the project down flat on the white posterboard or the wood piece I've selected. Then I shoot in to the project like this:
Repeat this for each section of your project where you have a fun technique, or a unique cluster of products. Imagine you're seeing your project for the first time. What would YOU want to see? Include those detail photos when you share your final project photo.
Step 5: Processing Your Photo
I use Photoshop to clean up my photos. Many designers use
Lightroom. And cameras are getting so smart these days that there is a lot you
can do with your photo before ever printing it or uploading it online. If you're using your camera
phone, try an Instragram setting. If you're using Photoshop be sure to check
out Adrienne Looman's actions here in the 2Peas store or her Lightroom Presets here. I REALLY
recommend the Clean Exposure one as it makes your photos nice and bright and
very true to color.
Processing your photo takes some practice. And everyone has
a style they like. I like bright, bold colors that aren't too in your face.
Others like a warm, washed out tone on their photographs. As long as you feel it celebrates your
project appropriately, go for it!
Here are some examples of projects for which I used the above photography steps:
Hopefully you'll discover a system for photographing your projects that you love. You deserve to have your projects SHINE!