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10 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Finished Object Photography

by Caro Sheridan

You don’t need a fancy camera or expensive lighting rig to take nice photos of your finished objects, these tips can help even if you’re shooting with a camera phone. I deliberately stayed away from technical photography terms and theory so even the most inexperienced of us can understand how to improve their shots. It’s easy peasy!


Tidy up
Take a test shot then have a look at your camera LCD. Notice any clutter? Take knickknacks off the counters, move the laundry basket, close the closet door. Easier to take 3 minutes and move a small piece of furniture than to spend the next few years thinking, "why didn't I just move that cat toy?!" You don't have to clean up the whole room, only the 3 feet where you're shooting.

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You’re made in the shade
Outdoor lighting can yield better results for point and shoot cameras but instead of waiting for a sunny day, try a cloudy day or shoot in the shade. Strong sunlight casts strong shadows that can detract from the texture of your finished object.

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Shoot details first
Before trying to get that perfect all over hero shot of the entire FO, start by shooting the details. Photograph the cuffs, interesting shaping or button details. This gives your model time to warm up to you and the camera.

What’s behind you?
Everybody has seen the examples of a snapshot with a tree growing out of someone's head, so take a test shot to double check what that thumbnail version reveals to you. Look at Amy with lasers coming out of her eyes! (She also has an unwoven end sticking out. See the things you can catch by checking the LCD?)

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Use a prop
It's hard to feel comfortable standing in front of a camera and it gives many people stage fright. Give your subject something to do and you'll find they'll look more natural and relaxed.

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Cheat!
Angles can make all the difference .If placing a hand on your hip, don't push down the way you would normally. Try barely touching your hip instead. This will prevent an inadvertent muffin top over your hand and will still read like you have your hand firmly placed there. If you're looking away from the camera, don't look all the way to the side. When too much of the whites of your eyes show, it gives you crazy eyes! Same goes with turning your head. Don't look all the way over your shoulder or your head will appear disconnected from your spine. Faking these angles and poses is called a cheat and models the world over do it.

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Be stealthy
Shoot when they think you're not shooting. Look through the lens and pretend to fiddle with a setting and catch your model in a natural moment. Candid photos can be incredibly charming.

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More, more, more
Take more photos than you think you need. Unless you're shooting film, it doesn't cost any more to shoot a few extra frames. The more photos you take, the more you have to choose from.

Fill the frame
There are heaps of free photo editing tools online and even the most basic will give you a crop feature. The FO should be the focus of the photo, don't be afraid to crop in tight. Let us see what you made!

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Find your Hero
Once you have narrowed down your shoot to your favourites, go through them one more time. Do you need 3 photos of that shoulder seam or will one work just as well? Edit out the superfluous shots. When presented all together, 3-5 photos total for the project have impact. If you’re looking to increase your web visibility or solicit comments, people will flock to the hero shot. Don’t confuse them by giving them multiples to admire. Make the hero a hero!

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Bio Photograph

Born on the West Coast of Canada, Caro Sheridan spent her formative years in creative environs surrounded by fabric and yarn. While her mother taught knitting, embroidery, and couture tailoring from home, Caro played Barbies under the table, seemingly oblivious. Fabric cutting tables must have osmotic properties though because the wee girl learned how to set in sleeves and turn hems before she was seven years old.


Article & Photography © 2011 Caro Sheridan. Contact 

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