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Tips for Better Photography – Twitter Chat Summary

Polaroid 1000 Land Camera and Polatronic 1 Flash

Thanks to all those who attended our Twitter chat this past Monday (#crafterminds) on one of the most loved and most hated topics when it comes to blogging – photography! You love it because it’s fun and it’s the key to a great crafty blog post, but you hate it because sometimes it’s hard. We learned a lot from this particular Twitter chat with expert guest Amy Locurto of Living Locurto and I Heart Faces; see the summary below for the highlights and several great links.

Biggest Challenge in Blog Photography – it was pretty unanimous that it was lighting!

@madincrafts: Is there a way to use a flash and still have the pic look decent?
@crafterminds: Good point, @madincrafts. You pretty much want to avoid the flash & lean on natural lighting as much as possible.
@crafterminds: Avoid the harsh light of a flash. Instead, use natural light. Indirect sunlight from a window is great for craft photos.
@crafterminds: Instead of a flash, try bringing your craft closer to a lamp (or bring the lamp closer to the craft).
@crafterminds: Another tip: add light by adding light-colored surfaces like placing your object on a white sheet or near a white wall.
@MonicaBenvidez: @crafterminds I agree with that tip! I also have a white foam core board from @dollartree for this purpose.
@crafterminds: Oftentimes I bring my crafts outside to photograph, either hanging on a tree or on a white posterboard.
@crafterminds: If possible, try to shoot in the early hours of the morning or the late afternoon when the sun is low in the sky.
@crafterminds: If ur area is not bright enough, turn off flash and set up lights angled at craft. Do n’t be afraid to move your lamps closer!
@livinglocurto: I prefer natural light. But if I’m crafting/blogging at night, I use an inexpensive
lighting kit.
@MelindaHilleman: If you have to set up indoor lights, what should be used to help with true color?
@my3boybarians: custom white balance. RT @MelindaHileman: If you have to set up indoor lights, what should be used to help with true color?
@livinglocurto: Lighting tip: Learn the white balance setting on your camera. If you have the lights, can change WB & photo won’t be yellow.

Special Questions and Topics
@OurTypicalLife: @livinglocurto how do you photograph in the winter? Its so cold and very little light on grey days. I miss taking pictures.
@livinglocurto: @OurTypicalLife I photograph in any weather. Find a big window in your house for inside photos.
@madiganmade: Any tips for photographing clear/glass objects (Hard to see or or ones w/ lots of reflection)?
@MonicaBenavidez: @madiganmade I think with glass objects, background is key or angles, too.
Overhead shots or low shots might help.
@CraftTestDummy: How does everyone feel about watermarking? Sometimes it’s distracting, but it does reinforce brand/ownership.
@mormishmom: I think it’s necessary these days – just a small one. RT @CraftTestDummy: How does everyone feel about watermarking?
@MonicaBenavidez: @CraftTestDummy I see why people do it, but I don’t like it very much. If it’s small, in the corner, it’s ok usually.
@my3boybarians: Do it, unless you don’t care if ppl steal. Ppl don’t understand law. If they find it “on Google” they think they can use it.

Shooting Craft Items
@madiganmade: For a post, is it better to style an object ‘in use’ (maybe so-so light) OR ‘alone’ in great light (ie. light box)?
@crafterminds: Do both, then pick later RT @madiganmade: For a post, is it better to style an object in use OR alone in great light
@my3boybarians: @madiganmade IMO depends on the goal. “how-to” is nice to see in progress.
finished prod nice to see more styled.
@livinglocurto: Very important for crafters. Take a photo of your item in use. Ex) A wreath looks W A Y nicer on a door instead of the floor.

Composition and Backgrounds Are Important
@livinglocurto: First photography tip I have is about composition. There is a lot of styling to make a good photo. No just snapping away.
@livinglocurto: Well, #1 on composition. Look at the background. It seems obvious, but many bloggers don’t think about it.
@livinglocurto: Good lenses can blur the background, but if you don?t have one try making a for backdrop for small items.
@marissamakes: @crafterminds That helps! I like to use an 18″ sheet of patterned scrapbook paper for smaller flat items.
@livinglocurto: Backdrop ideas: Large poster board ? Fabric ? Scrapbook Paper ? A simple patterned chair, sofa or wall ? Wallpaper
@Pizzazzerie: @infarrantly @livinglocurto Great backdrop ideas! #crafterminds – a brick wall can look quite neat too!
@my3boybarians: $3 backdrop. White foam core. avail at any craft store. (that’s about as crafty as i get!)
@livinglocurto: Put craft items further A W A Y from the backdrop. Find a window or go outside. Don’t worry about lighting if you’re a beginner.
@crafterminds: If you have a dark item, choose a lighter background. Dark background for light item.
@crafterminds: Shoot your craft at a slight angle to give it a sense of depth and perspective.
@crafterminds: Find the most interesting element and make it a focal point.
@livinglocurto: Take photos of more than one angle. Get close, far away, overhead- try something different!
@livinglocurto: Style it! Browse magazines for ideas. Use what you have to spruce up a photo.
@livinglocurto: Small props can help show the real size of something small. I like to have ornaments, a leaf… anything to help show size.
@livinglocurto: Great tip I learned from a chef: Stack it… the higher the item, the better it looks. From cookies to books… great styling.

Equipment
@crafterminds: For those of you w/a Digital SLR (one w/removable lenses), a 50mm lens is amazing for craft/item photos
@crafterminds: f you don’t have a fancy camera, you can do a lot w/the camera you have. Remember to focus before you snap
@my3boybarians: gorilla pods are countertop tripods and very inexpensive

Photo Editing
@AFOMFT: Ditto! Picnik is so simple. RT @Lilbrownhouse: What does everyone use for photo editing? I have Photoshop but use Picnik!
@crafterminds: I would recommend using free tools before forking out $$ on Photoshop… it’s not the answer to all your prayers! 🙂
@tabbiecat77: @Lilbrownhouse I always use The Gimp
@MonicaBenavidez: @Lilbrownhouse I also have Photoshop, but I use Photoscape (it’s free) for quick, easy edits. Very user friendly
@CraftTestDummy: @AFOMFT @Lilbrownhouse Picnik, but I also use Windows Photo gallery…
@livinglocurto: Easy editing online with Photoshop Express: Love it! http://photoshop.com
@bobalooKids: Photoshop does take a while to get used to. I really liked the Missing Manual book about Photoshop – learned so much!
@livinglocurto: You don’t need to use Photoshop… you can use PS Elements. Or just go online: www.photoshop.com
@marissamakes: I tweak the HTML in my blog posts so the photos appear at 600px. So much prettier!
@livinglocurto: I love my Adobe Creative Suite, but I’m a professional graphic designer.
@livinglocurto: 3 Main Things to Remember… Check image tones, Sharpen, size and save for the web.
@livinglocurto: @imtopsyturvy I don’t use Lightroom. It’s great for batch editing. I just don’t do much batch editing, so don’t need it.
@livinglocurto: Check Image Tones: Is it yellow? Too dark? Too bright? Too washed out? Can use free sites like Picnik or Photoshop.com
@crafterminds: Don’t be afraid to crop your photo! Get in as close on your item as you can. Different crops have different feels.
@marissamakes: If you use Blogger, it defaults to show photos at 400 pixels. You can change that so they show larger on your blog.
@kassarie: @CraftTestDummy Ok! So how would I go about decreasing a photo that is 17MB down??
@CraftTestDummy: @kassarie Upload to Flickr, view, select “actions” then view all sizes. re-save the size you need….
@modpodgerocks: Just remember not to load pictures that are too huge onto your blog – you can get penalized by Google
@crafterminds: Name your .jpg something descriptive – it will help w/search traffic. Like:
ornamentwreath.jpg instead of IMG0002.jpg.
@crafterminds: After you edit your photo, SAVE AS and change the name. Keep the original file intact! You might need it someday.

Entire Rooms
@attemptingaloha: What about photographing an entire room? (not just crafts) Does a good lens help “fit” more into the pic?
@crafterminds: @attemptingaloha Sometimes a wide angle lens helps w/photographing a whole room. completely changes the look of the room, tho
@MonicaBenavidez: @attemptingaloha One blogger pal suggested taking 2 pics and editing them into 1 wide/large photo.
@crafterminds: If you are photographing rooms, you probably want to invest in 1 or 2 lenses and change between them to get the best effect
@crafterminds: Shoot a lot of pics from diff angles RT @madiganmade: Photographing rooms: What about those of us w/ a P&S? Tips?
@MelindaHileman: @attemptingaloha @MonicaBenavidez Sit on the floor in the corner. Makes the room look bigger.
@MonicaBenavidez: I also sometimes stand on chairs to try to fit an area into a pic.

What Makes a Good Tutorial
@madincrafts: What about tutorial/process photos? What’s a good way to shoot those?
@Lilbrownhouse: @kristananne @madincrafts I shoot tutes close up to show detail
@modpodgerocks: My personal policy with how-to shots is to just capture the necessary steps, not all of them. Get close up
@crafterminds: For how-to shoots, I shoot every step (for my own ref. when writing), and then only post the shots that illuminate something
@kpwerker: For tutorial/process photos, I use a tripod to position camera over my shoulder or
between elbows, and either timer or remote.
@crafterminds: If there’s something the crafter needs to know, I point to it in my how-to photos
@LaraEllieG: @modpodgerocks My Countertops upstairs are white, and black down. they are both my favorite backgrounds for tutorial steps.
@MonicaBenavidez: I shoot photos of key steps & the final product. If something is super tricky, I might include more pics of that step.

Read Your Camera Manual!
@blessedlife2: I need to read my camera manual (blush) and read @my3boybarians 31 days series! 🙂
@livinglocurto: I highly recommend reading your camera manual:-) Most people don’t. It’s amazing how much that would help! ha.
@infarrantly: Grrr I knew was coming ! RT @livinglocurto: I rec. reading ur camera manual Most people don’t. Its amazing how much that helps

Links Shared
How to Make an Inexpensive Light Tent
Homemade Light Box
DIY $10 Macro Light Studio
I Heart Faces Photography Tutorials
31 Days to a Better Photo Series
DIY Background Ideas on a Budget
Free Photography Resources

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2 Responses to “Tips for Better Photography – Twitter Chat Summary”

  1. Thanks for the awesome recap, amy!! So much good info! Thanks to all the chatters who shared their wisdom!

  2. Thanks for all the tips!!!! Too bad I didn’t join in for the tweet, it should be fun to share 🙂

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