Pictures of a lightbox whilst photographing a handmade greeting card

How to Take Good Pictures of Your Handmade Cards for your blog | Photography


How to photograph cards for cardmakers…

It’s the Flash !

We’ve all done it. We’ve made our cards and gingerly took a quick picture using a digital camera or our cell/mobile phone; we upload it to our blog, yet the picture is dark and doesn’t look ‘right’.
I totally understand the frustration, when I started my card making blog over seven years ago (Yikes !), I use to put my cards under a scanner and hoped for the best. I knew then I couldn’t possibly compete with professional photographers but secretly I was very envious of all the other cardmakers’ blogs where their greeting cards looked ‘just like they do in magazines’.

A quick search on Google and it became clear…

So I searched online to see if I could get a few quick tips and came across a few websites, apart from the very technical ones, I was lucky to find a few quick fixes that will give my picture taking to a slightly more professional level.
Unfortunately I can’t remember the photographic site that dished out those pearls of wisdom but I quickly made a note of the main three tips.

3 tips for better pictures for cardmakers

So here are the three tips so that you can improve the look of your cards when you want to upload them to your blog:
  1. Switch the Flash off on your camera; I know it seems silly and you think that the picture will become dark but don’t worry tip N.2 will fix that. The reason you want the flash off is because it makes everything look flat and unnatural, it also creates shadows where you don’t want them and your cards look like they’ve been caught in the traffic light ! ;)
  2. Look for the instruction booklet for your digital camera (you can go to the manufacturer’s website and download it there if you misled it) and check if your camera has this setting called EV (exposure value) and then set it at 0.7 + you can ‘push’ it to 1.0 + if need be, just experiment. What this does is to tell the camera to get more light in, so that you’re actually forcing the camera to overexpose your picture.Honestly it’s ok because the next step is to fix it once you’ve taken the picture using a free software called Picasa. If you have other pictures software enhancer, that’s cool, use your one. The setting you want to hit is the automated quick/instant fix. This will just automatically enhance the picture just like by magic. You can also play with the saturation setting to give your cards’ pictures ‘more colour’.
  3. Finally you need a white box (also called lightbox), I was lucky enough I found one in my local Maplin (computer and electronics retailer in the UK) but you can make your own with a fairly deep box. Just cut out the two flaps that fasten the box plus one side, then line your box with white cardstock (it doesn’t have to be good quality just white). Next use a table lamp and shine the light from above but directing against one of the sides so that it reflects the light back to your card. You might need to prop up your table lamp with a smaller box or like I did on the picture with a kitchen paper roll (yep I’m that technologically minded). You could always ‘take it outside’ like Lindsay Obermeyer did to get the best natural light (go and have a look it’s pure genius).

Take several pictures of your card from various angles

Since we don’t have to develop pictures anymore in this day and age, don’t be stingy with your picture taking, just go for it and you’ll start to feel like a professional photographer. Take at least 5 to 8 pictures of your cards ‘moving’ around the card and varying the angle of your camera, my best pictures usually are made when I put the card slightly at a jonty angle and take the picture from below looking up.
You’ll want to experiment so that you can find what works for you, so go for it and also try to avoid taking a picture of your card from the front that’s why I position my card slightly off. You’ll pick, then, all the card layers (if any) and people will appreciate more your cardmaker’s skills.
Also and this is a total bonus, no matter how good your matting or positioning of your elements on your card there will always be something that looks a bit off, when taking picture this way, it kinda corrects these ‘mistakes’ as you can’t really tell. Shhhh that’s a secret ! lol

If you have any tips of your own about how to photograph handmade cards, please leave a comment below ! Thanks !

Further reading about the subject of photography for crafters (with affiliate links which help this site):

UK
Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos: Fool-Proof Techniques to Make Your Handmade Creations Shine Online

Canada
The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos: The Best Techniques for Showcasing Your Handmade Creations

USA and Rest of the World
The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos: The Best Techniques for Showcasing Your Handmade Creations


From the SVGcuts.com website: Another tutorial about taking pictures of your cards using natural daylight by Leo Kowal


Just came across this new portable lightbox (Foldio) for smarphones; it’s still in crowd sourcing process but it seems like a neat idea as you can see from the video below. Enjoy ! :D

 


These articles are exclusively written for CardmakingNews.com and can’t be reproduced in any form, all rights reserved.

About Fabrizio Martellucci

Fabrizio has been paper crafting for the past 8 years and find it very therapeutic to help him deal with his disability. He mainly makes handmade greeting cards with the occasional Artist Trading Cards and Scrapbook layouts. Fabrizio has started to write articles to help other cardmakers with tips and some guides about technology, social media and other related content. Check his blogs and websites at : www.kimtag.com/fabrizio

  • Pingback: 3 easy settings on Picasa that will help you with your greeting cards pictures | cardmaking | photography | CardMakingNews.com()

  • http://www.kimtag.com/fabrizio Fabrizio

    I’m glad I could help ! :)

  • Jamie B.

    This is a wonderful post!! I have been on a quest to figure out how to take better pics and had already figured out the flash would never work… so I would usually just take them though they were dark and fix them in Photoshop. I didn’t know about the camera settings so will definitely give that a try! I have heard of the white box and lightening.. I tried it a few times but I don’t really have a light that will reach overhead… so was using a light box in the front sort of aiming it toward one side of the white wall.. and seemed to work OK but sure was a lot just to get a few good photos.. The way you described sounds so much easier and probably yields much better results.. Thank you for sharing this valuable info :)

  • Penny Douphinett

    Thanks, Fab! I need to make myself a box and figure out how to turn off the flash. Just the info I needed – you’re the best!!!

  • Robin C

    Great Post. I hate the pics I take. When you have all that stuff in the background from PW like many of your photo’s, is it still taken in the light box?
    Thanks for the great info. I am going to try it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/judy.headrick.9 Judy Headrick

    Thanks SO much for these instructions! This made an amazing difference in my photos and I had everything on hand to implement it so it didn’t cost me anything. I used four sheets of 12″ x 18″ semi-gloss cover stock for my light box. For lighting I have one incandescent lamp and two battery powered LED lamps that we use for camping. The LEDs combined with the incandescent balance each other out –LED was too blue, incandescent was too yellow. I love that my light box folds down flat for storage.

  • http://www.kimtag.com/fabrizio Fabrizio

    You’re welcome Penny. After Sam gentle nudge on the paperwishes forum, I couldn’t say no to her and decided to get on with it and write the article. I’m glad you’ve liked it. I’ve got the writing bug although I know I’m not the best writer ! lol

  • http://www.kimtag.com/fabrizio Fabrizio

    You’re welcome Dorrine :)

  • http://www.kimtag.com/fabrizio Fabrizio

    You’re welcome Louise :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dorrine.conrad Dorrine Conrad

    Fab, this is a ‘fab’ u-lous resource…thanks a million!

  • Louise robertson

    thanks fab :) really usefull artical on taking proper photos and very interesting to read

  • http://www.kimtag.com/fabrizio Fabrizio

    You’re welcome Sam, I’m so pleased you’ve nudged me in that direction. I was toying with the idea of creating a site with useful articles so there it is ! Thanks to you ! lol 

  • http://www.kimtag.com/fabrizio Fabrizio

    Those pictures are taken quickly using my ipod touch on my craft desk. I will then take another picture of each single cards before uploading them to my blogs ! :)

  • http://www.kimtag.com/fabrizio Fabrizio

    That’s so cool Judy, I’m so pleased it worked for you and I totally agree with the lights, very clever. I forgot to mention that my lamp is a daylight light one but it’s not really important to have it like that. Looking forward to see your cards pictures :)

  • Sam B

    THANK YOU Fab!  Your photos on all your various blogs always look SO WONDERFUl so I knew you were the right man to explain it all to us – and as always your instructions are easy to understand as well!  Great job as always!!!