Photographing products, such as art, can be a tricky process. I admire beautiful professional photography. But as many of us do not have endless funds to hire a photographer or purchase the most high end camera, it is useful to know a few guidelines. Plus it’s just fun to capture daily life yourself! I’d like to grow into a more journalistic approach, but I’m glad I’ve made a little progress so far!
1. Good lighting: I prefer to shoot in natural light on an overcast day. This kind of light will not create harsh shadows that hide parts of the piece. It is naturally diffused (it won’t usually create a bright hot-spot). A home-made light box might also be a good time-investment if you often shoot small pieces.
2. Simple background: I’ve collected a basket of large rolls of paper that I can roll out on the ground when shooting straight down, or tape on the wall and draped a few feet onto the floor for a non distracting background. Many other simple backgrounds work too, such as a hardwood floor or tablecloth. I believe blog followers and magazine readers appreciate a journalistic approach as well, which captures the product in a natural environment with a few accompanying objects.
3. Basic editing program: If you take your time getting the best photograph with your camera first, your editing will hopefully be minimal. Adobe Photoshop and iphoto are great editing tools none-the-less. Find out what works for you. iphoto will do alot. You can straighten a crooked photo, crop, adjust lighting and color, and even add a few filters if you’d like. In photoshop you can eliminate problems that might detract from your product like the corner of a laptop that snuck into the shot or dust on your camera lens.These are fixed with the Clone and Spot Healing tool. You can also select specific areas of the photo that are off (too dark or too blue), and correct them with Dodging/Burning or with the many Image Adjustment tools.
4. Trick for photographing art under glass: If you can, avoid it! In other words, photograph your piece before you frame it. But if you are unable to, a simple trick might help you out. The problem you’ll come across is that the glass reflects everything: the sky, you, the edge of your roof. . . ). You will need a large white board or white paper/fabric over a stiff frame. In a pinch, I used an old large mat board and taped scraps of paper to it. (Very jimmy rigged, but my nice overcast light was about to turn into rain!) I poked a hole into the center of the contraption and positioned my camera lens at the hole. I could then photograph the piece with nothing reflected but plain white paper. In essence, you cannot see any reflections. Super! I’m embarrassed to post this as an example, but it give you an idea of the white paper idea and the shot you might get from it.
My goal is to sell online this year. Sadly, I’ve not posted on etsy yet, so my store sits empty. But I’ve been busily photographing recent pieces, retouching photos, and researching the etsy posting process. It’s time to show you where I am so far.
Get out and snap some photos!