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advice for


the best techniques for showcasing

your handmade creations
Heidi Adnum
Choosing Backgrounds

Backgrounds can be wonderfully simple and easy to work

with and the right background has the potential to ensure
your product is the first thing people notice when they look
1 at your photograph. Once you’ve found the right background,
stick with it. This creates cohesion and encourages people
to browse your product range.

Most backgrounds fall into at least one of the following five

categories: neutral, colored, textured, patterned, or in situ.


If you are in any doubt as to which background An in situ background is a superb choice when
will best suit your product, always go for a simple, you want to inspire customers and suggest ways in
neutral one. Neutral backgrounds look very refined which to use your product. Choose locations in and
and professional and will suit every product. They around your home and garden that show scale
can be any shade of white, black, or gray and are and size accurately. In situ backgrounds can provide
easily found—walls, fabrics, paper . . . even a slate the perfect contrast to your product and show all
blackboard will do. of the elements of a story as well (see image 3).

White backgrounds are perfect for a minimalist

effect and even white or pale products look great TEXTURED BACKGROUNDS
on a white background. The effect is very airy, crisp, Textured backgrounds, such as wood, bricks,
and clean; stylists often employ it to convey high fabric, and paper, are a real treat to work with and
quality and modern simplicity. can complement your product nicely. Textured
backgrounds will also fall into one of the other
The best way to use black is to choose an almost- categories, for example, a charcoal-colored brick
black background, like charcoal or dark gray wall is a textured and neutral background. Like
(see image 2). Darker backgrounds create more other backgrounds, though, textures must not
of a mood, so suit strong, bold products best. be the first thing your customers see, so only use
It is essential to use soft lighting to show the textures if you’re confident your product can
texture of your product against the background. compete (see images 1 and 4).

2 G E T T I N G S TA R T E D | H o w To T e l l Yo u r S t o r y

If you’re unhappy with the color

of your wall, or it’s too dull, then
why not change it? Paint a section
of the wall (you can always repaint
it to its original color). Or, if that
isn’t possible, paint a piece of MDF
and slide it into the background.

[ 1 ] Robin’s egg magnets

Kodak EasyShare C743
1/25 sec, f/2.7, ISO 160, 6mm
Jennifer Arndt

[ 2 ] Heart necklace
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H3
1/40 sec, f/3.5, ISO 250, 6.3mm
Lauren Haupt 4

[ 3 ] Recycled wood sign

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
1/40 sec, f/2.2, ISO 400, 28mm
Oh Dier

[ 4 ] Recycled wood shark

Kodak EasyShare C813
1/60 sec, f/2.7, ISO 120, 6mm
John Birdsong

G E T T I N G S TA R T E D | H o w To T e l l Yo u r S t o r y 3
DIY Light Tent Tutorial

A light tent is also known as a mini-studio. Light enters the box from the top
and bounces around inside the box to fall onto your product from many angles.
The white background is completely neutral and, subsequently, all focus is placed
on the product.

MAKING A LIGHT TENT 4. Your tent is now ready to be placed near

As a crafter, you’ll be delighted to know that a light source such as a window, or outside.
while camera equipment manufacturers make You can also bring light into the tent, in the
and sell light tents for a range of prices, you can GPSNPGBMBNQPSnBTI
easily make one at home out of a cardboard box
and tracing paper. All you need is: 5. Place your product inside the tent so it is
contained within the three papered walls
(at least 1ft/30cm sq);
tracing paper or baking parchment; LIGHTING THE LIGHT TENT
 tBSPMMPGUIJDLXIJUFQBQFS Identify the direction from which the light
 tTDJTTPSTBOEUBQFBOE enters the tent. If your light source is stacked
 to one side, you will notice that the opposite
side is slightly darker. To allow more light into
1. Place the box with the open end facing you the tent, point it toward another light source
and cut out the side and top panels, leaving such as a window. If you find that the light is
the back and base intact. still not bright enough inside your light tent,
consider making an even larger one. Small
2. Tape your semitransparent white paper over tents don’t allow the light to bounce around
the side and top panels. as much as larger ones do.

3. Tape a sheet of thick white paper to the

top of the back of the box and drape it out
toward you. This is called a runway.

4 G E T T I N G S TA R T E D | DIY Accessories
Small products that can be
1 overpowered by strong light and
strong shadows look great when
photographed in light tents. Examples
include accessories, jewelry, and small
toys. Products with lots of detail or
color look great in a light tent, too, as,
with no surrounding distractions, the
product stands alone.

Ceramic milk jug

Canon EOS 50D
1/250 sec, f/3.2, ISO 100, 50mm,
flash triggered by radio
Heidi Adnum

G E T T I N G S TA R T E D | DIY Accessories 5
Editing Essentials Tutorial


These techniques remove distractions and unnecessary details such as pointless
objects in the background. You can crop to show all of your product or just one part
of it, which is a great way to generate interest in your photograph or focus in on the
action or energy in it. This tutorial has been created using Photoshop Elements,
a less expensive, pared-back version of Photoshop.

[ 1 ] Before you do anything, always create

a duplicate layer so that you have your original
image backed up if things go wrong. Make sure
you’re on the layer you wish to duplicate (it will
show blue) and then go to Layer > Duplicate
Layer. Now turn off your orginal layer by clicking
on the eye icon next to it.

[ 2 ] To rotate your image, first go to Image >

the image. You can also manually rotate
an image. Make sure you’re on the correct
image layer, then go to Image > Transform >
Free Rotate Layer. Use your cursor to move
the image. When you’re happy with its new
position, press Enter.


[ 3 ] Now select the Crop tool. In both
Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, this is the
frame-shaped tool usually found on the left-
hand vertical toolbar. Drag your mouse over
the image to make it the size you want. Drag
the corners until you’re sure the size is right,
then hit Enter. You can also crop in a ratio that
best fits the website on which the photograph
will be published by adding a Restraint, for
example, 2 × 3, 4 × 5, etc. Find the Restraint
option on the top toolbar.

[ 4 ] The Straighten tool can be used to

straighten a tilted image or to tilt an already
straight image. Using the Crop tool, drag your
mouse over the image to make it the size
you want. Now hover the mouse at one of
the corners of the box until the cursor arrow
becomes a curved arrow. Drag at the corner
to make the image tilt in the direction you
want it to.


If your camera allows for shooting in RAW
format, then you should try it out. When you
take photographs in RAW mode, you are
instructing the camera to save the image
files in their original and uncompressed
format. The files will be larger, so you will fit
fewer images on your memory card than for
JPEGs, but RAW files give you more flexibility
when it comes to editing the image. When a
RAW file is opened in Photoshop Elements,
the Adobe Camera RAW editing box appears.
You will see the options to make the same,
but more detailed edits.


Sell more of your handmade CONTENTS
items with better photographs I GETTING STARTED
1: Camera basics
Amidst the sea of handmade jewelry, apparel, house- 2: How to tell your story
wares, art, and other crafts that populate blogs, websites, 3: DIY accessories

and online marketplaces, how do you make your items II PHOTO FUNDAMENTALS
stand out? The key is great photography. Equipment advice, Camera settings,
Composition & styling, Common
problems & FAQs, Practitioner spotlight
Beautiful handmade items can be undermined by poor 4: Fashion & fabrics
or uninspired images that fail to represent their detail 5: Bags, purses & accessories
6: Knitting & needlecraft
and craftsmanship. With The Crafter’s Guide to Taking 7: Jewelry
Great Photos, you’ll learn that you don’t need expensive 8: Dolls & toys
professional equipment to get quality results. Get simple, 9: Ceramics & pottery
10: Art
practical advice presented with the crafter in mind. 11: Books, magazines & stationery
Learn to make a lightbox, avoid camera shake without a 12: Home accessories
tripod, how to use natural lighting, and how to capture III FINISHING UP &
the detail in your work. Broken down into specific craft GETTING IT OUT THERE
areas, you’ll find tips on how to best generate eye- 13 : Postproduction
14 : Image storage & backup
catching images that will help sell your items. 15 : Business advice

Boost your online crafting business with The Crafter’s Contributor index
Guide to Taking Great Photos. Index

HEIDI ADNUM is a crafter and professional photographer

who lives and works in London. She has two shops on Etsy;
heidiadnum and hellodarlingvintage. She also runs the photo- Flexibound
graphy and inspiration blog La Isla Blogita and authored the 6.7 × 8.7, 192 pages
ISBN 978-1-59668-626-7
popular how-to photography tips series on Etsy Photography
Tips with Heidi Adnum. Available November 2011