advice for

crafters
from
crafters

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.

NEUTRAL BACKGROUNDS

SHOOTING IN SITU

If you are in any doubt as to which background
will best suit your product, always go for a simple,
neutral one. Neutral backgrounds look very refined
and professional and will suit every product. They
can be any shade of white, black, or gray and are
easily found—walls, fabrics, paper . . . even a slate
blackboard will do.

An in situ background is a superb choice when
you want to inspire customers and suggest ways in
which to use your product. Choose locations in and
around your home and garden that show scale
and size accurately. In situ backgrounds can provide
the perfect contrast to your product and show all
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
on a white background. The effect is very airy, crisp,
and clean; stylists often employ it to convey high
quality and modern simplicity.
The best way to use black is to choose an almostblack background, like charcoal or dark gray
(see image 2). Darker backgrounds create more
of a mood, so suit strong, bold products best.
It is essential to use soft lighting to show the
texture of your product against the background.

2

G E T T I N G S TA R T E D

|

TEXTURED BACKGROUNDS
Textured backgrounds, such as wood, bricks,
fabric, and paper, are a real treat to work with and
can complement your product nicely. Textured
backgrounds will also fall into one of the other
categories, for example, a charcoal-colored brick
wall is a textured and neutral background. Like
other backgrounds, though, textures must not
be the first thing your customers see, so only use
textures if you’re confident your product can
compete (see images 1 and 4).

H o w To T e l l Yo u r S t o r y

2

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.

3

[ 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
As a crafter, you’ll be delighted to know that
while camera equipment manufacturers make
and sell light tents for a range of prices, you can
easily make one at home out of a cardboard box
and tracing paper. All you need is: 
tBTRVBSFDBSECPBSECPY
(at least 1ft/30cm sq); 
tTFNJUSBOTQBSFOUXIJUFQBQFSTVDIBT
tracing paper or baking parchment; 
tBSPMMPGUIJDLXIJUFQBQFS 
tTDJTTPSTBOEUBQFBOE 
tBMJHIUTPVSDF MBNQ nBTI PSXJOEPX 

1. Place the box with the open end facing you
and cut out the side and top panels, leaving
the back and base intact.
2. Tape your semitransparent white paper over
the side and top panels.
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

4. Your tent is now ready to be placed near
a light source such as a window, or outside.
You can also bring light into the tent, in the
GPSNPGBMBNQPSnBTI
5. Place your product inside the tent so it is
contained within the three papered walls
and shoot.

LIGHTING THE LIGHT TENT
Identify the direction from which the light
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
the tent, point it toward another light source
such as a window. If you find that the light is
still not bright enough inside your light tent,
consider making an even larger one. Small
tents don’t allow the light to bounce around
as much as larger ones do.

WHEN TO USE A LIGHT TENT
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

2

toys. Products with lots of detail or
color look great in a light tent, too, as,
with no surrounding distractions, the
product stands alone.

3

4

5

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
ROTATION, CROPPING & STRAIGHTENING
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 >
3PUBUF$IPPTFXIJDIXBZZPVXBOUUPnJQ
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.

6

FINISHING UP & GETTING IT OUT THERE

|

Postproduction

[ 3 ] Now select the Crop tool. In both
Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, this is the
frame-shaped tool usually found on the lefthand 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.

USING RAW IMAGES
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.

FINISHING UP & GETTING IT OUT THERE

|

Postproduction

7

Sell more of your handmade
items with better photographs
Amidst the sea of handmade jewelry, apparel, housewares, art, and other crafts that populate blogs, websites,

CONTENTS
Introduction
I GETTING STARTED
1: Camera basics
2: How to tell your story
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
5: Bags, purses & accessories
6: Knitting & needlecraft
7: Jewelry
8: Dolls & toys
9: Ceramics & pottery
10: Art
11: Books, magazines & stationery
12: Home accessories

or uninspired images that fail to represent their detail
and craftsmanship. With The Crafter’s Guide to Taking
Great Photos, you’ll learn that you don’t need expensive
professional equipment to get quality results. Get simple,
practical advice presented with the crafter in mind.
Learn to make a lightbox, avoid camera shake without a
tripod, how to use natural lighting, and how to capture
the detail in your work. Broken down into specific craft
areas, you’ll find tips on how to best generate eyecatching images that will help sell your items.
Boost your online crafting business with The Crafter’s
Guide to Taking Great Photos.

III FINISHING UP &
GETTING IT OUT THERE
13 : Postproduction
14 : Image storage & backup
15 : Business advice
Contributor index
Glossary
Index
Acknowledgments

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 photography and inspiration blog La Isla Blogita and authored the
popular how-to photography tips series on Etsy Photography
Tips with Heidi Adnum.

Flexibound
6.7 × 8.7, 192 pages
ISBN 978-1-59668-626-7
$24.95
Available November 2011

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful