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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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