Friday, February 12, 2010

Photographing Your Cards (Part 1)

I've put this tutorial together from various online sources and a few little tricks I've learnt along the way, on capturing the best side of your cards.

Please note I'm no professional photographer - so laymen terms will frequent here, I hope you don't mind! If you're a scrapbooker I have a similar short tutorial for you too. Click here to check it out.

Some of the same old rules first:

Rule 1: Natural Light!
Why would you take a photo of your creation in the dark? We want to see all those beautiful colours, the textures - not shadows! You don't need to go out and buy yourself a light box or a snazzy camera - let the light do the work for you.

Great light is just a small step away - like the shade of your back patio for example. Direct light beaming down on your creation is a No-No - it will wash it out, create ugly shadows - but shade is perfect.

Other light tips:
  • Don't use your flash - PLEASE! Just like direct natural light beaming down on your creation, it will wash a lot of your detail out or create ugly shadows. Trust me, I've been down this path many, many times. If it's night time, just wait until the morning to take your photo, it will be worth the wait.
  • Use the MACRO setting - especially with cards. This is usually the little flower on your settings dial. All camera's are different - so play with the different settings.
Rule 2: Take LOTS of photo's
Everyone loves eye candy. There's nothing better than seeing all the little details you (and we!) love about your creations up close. That's why!

Rule 3: Dress it Up & Fill The Frame
It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have - it could be a $100 point and shoot to a $1000+ DSLR, if you fill the frame with your card — get close enough so the card fills at least 75% of the viewfinder — you'll make the best use of whatever camera you have.

Dressing It Up
Got patterned paper? Chances are, you have a few sheets stashed away somewhere (hee!). Again, you don't need a light tent - a couple of sheets of 12x12 white card stock and you're half way to having a fail-proof, basic backdrop for your creation.

I always keep two Whisper White 12x12 sheets in a protective case at all times (see below) - just in case. It's a great 'grab bag' for when I need to run out the back and shoot a picture quickly.

Because I used Stampin' Up!s Haiku patterned paper on my card, I've grabbed some contrasting DSP from the same range for an alternative backdrop. Have a play when you're shooting your creations! Sometimes white works well, but for this particular card I felt it needed a little more of a kick.

All I have done here for my 'temporary photo shoot' space, is clear away some paint tins and copper piping on a table, laid one sheet down flat (on protector sheet - it's grubby out there ATM), the other sheet is propped up against any flat, sturdy surface (in my case, an old mirror). I placed my card on the bottom page, squatted down so I was level with the card and took my photo.

White Backdrop.
(Please excuse my messy back patio - we never seem to stop fixing the house up).

Photo after cropping & editing. (As my 6 year old would say: Boring!)Now, if you want to get really fancy, you only need one sheet of white 12x12 and a piece of pretty patterned paper and you can do something like this:

This is the exact setup I used for the photo at the start of this post.
Primitive, but it works for me.Do you see how my card is further away from the patterned paper sheet this time? This is so when I focus on the card (macro setting preferably) the background is out of focus, thus the main focus being on the card.

Rule 4: Focus
Nothing can save it if you don't get the image in focus. This is where the MACRO setting comes in mighty handy - it's the 'flower' setting on most cameras.

Rule 5: A Little Editing Goes a Long Way
The legendary Karen Giron directed me towards a software program called GIMP, it's really easy to navigate through (well, if I can use it I'm sure anyone can figure it out) and you can download it for free here.

Please check out the end of this post for a basic way to fix up your photo's with GIMP.

Thanks for tuning in, if you have any additional tips on photography, please share.


  1. This is an awesome tutorial, Amanda. Much appreciated! I was doing some things right but learnt some new tips. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lovely sketch card and some sound photo taking advice. Well done :D

  3. Cool tutorial Amanda!

  4. Fantastic tutorial!! Am going now to try it out.

  5. Thanks so much for the great tips!! I really needed a tutorial in taking pics of cards. So different from photographing jumpy toddlers:)

  6. Once again, amazing tutorial. I've already used the two white sheets of paper, but never thought to put the DSP in the background too. Thank You!

  7. Thank you for the tutorial, it is really good. It showed that I am doing some of the right things. But I still needs heaps of practice. :)

  8. Wow, thanks ladies! I'm stoked that you found some of these tips useful! *big smile* xx Amanda

  9. thank you for all your tips

  10. Thanks for the great tutorial, I have learnt a few more tips to take better pics, one thing I also do because I take most of my pics at nite is I have two Ott-Lite's that a use (one on either side) and this helps with the natural light issue. Thanks again Amanda :)

  11. Thanks for the tips Amanda! I too was doing some things right but learnt some more tips eg using the DSP and tried this when photographing my Just Add Ink Challenge No. 4 card.

  12. Amenda you are my girl. For me this is was good, good tutorial. Thank you so much. I hope my photos will be beter. Hugs. Nataliya.