Monday, August 1, 2011

How to get better project/layout photos!

If your layouts are important enough to share and post, it's important to know how to take a decent picture of them, right?  We don't start scrapping and immediately know how to take a good photo of a layout.  If you've only ever used your point and shoot on auto mode, it may not even occur to you to turn that flash off.  I have read a lot of tutorials and hints since I first decided to start trying for design teams, and I thought I'd share some of what I've learned with you.  You don't have to be on a DT to be able to take a good picture of your work, but in all areas of scrapbooking, good photos are important.

First, the don'ts...
1.  Don't prop or stand your layout up to take a picture.

This plate holder doesn't support the layout anyway.  When you look at the side view, you see where it really gets ugly :)

That big bend is what keeps your layout from being square in your picture.  Even if you have a piece of chipboard behind your layout to support it, you still end up with big old legs of the plate holder in the shot.  Kinda takes away from the layout too.

This was the best I could do with cropping that picture.  Not pretty!

This time it's just propped against a jar.  It's in a more suqare shape, but unless you're careful you're not going to get a square finshed picture.

See what I mean?  Cropped, but not square.  Very distracting.

2.  Don't take your photos against a busy background.

Just look again at the pictures we just checked out.  It may be very tempting to just throw your layout down on the table where you've been scrapping a snap a picture, but don't.  Clear some things off or head somewhere else.  The mess ends up being what everyone looks at, not your work.

3.  Don't use a flash!

Seriously, you guys.  NEVER.  Don't do it.  It doesn't matter how dark it is.  Wait for daylight or turn on all the lights, get some lamps, etc. to brighten things up.  Don't use a flash.

This is not pretty.  You can't even see the pictures you just spent time scrapping! 

How about some do's now? :)

1.  Get as much natural light as possible without being in direct light.

For a layout, it's best to go outside, but take your photos in the shade.  The direct sunlight will just wash out all the color and you will just end up with a photo of your shadow over your layout :)

Here's what I do:

See?  Just out of direct sunlight.

See my feets now? :)  That's because I stand with them wide apart and lean forward so that I'm directly over the layout and can get a square shot of my layout. 

I usually leave a little frame of the concrete around my layouts because I like the way it looks.  If I'm working on a white layout the grey helps to show off the edges.  I can trim it down to the layout and have that square shape, and it's because of the way I take the photo.  Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't exactly fun when it's 110 outside, but it's important to me that I take a picture of my work that shows it off, not one that just gets a photo on my camera.

What about projects and cards?  Same thing with the natural light.

This is in my scrap room right in front of the window.  You can just choose the brightest room in your house.  I use some foam core board in white (to help reflect the light) and set up there.  I use patterned paper as a background for my shots when I can (like, when the project is smaller than 12x12).  Something that coordinates with the project but doesn't distract from it.

I turn on all the lights in my room as well as opening the shutters.  This picture may be crooked, but with a little cropping...

Voila!  Bright and fun. 
Now, what if it's night time, you're on a deadline and there's no natural light for you to use?

2.  Use uncovered lamps.  No flashes! :)

I happen to have fancy lights that I totally stole from my younger brother when he moved out of my parent's house.  Not everyone has them, and I get that.  You can just as easily take a couple of lamps, remove the shades, and use them instead.  It'll be a little more harsh for lighting, but still wayyyy better than a flash.  Here's what I do when I have to take my pics at ngiht:

Same scraproom, but now it's late.  I get my lamps as close as possible (having 2 helps with getting enough light and with shadows), and squeeze myself and my camera in there to take pictures. 

This is also a larger project photo, so instead of using patterned paper for the background, I used a roll of shipping kraft paper and used it.  Picked it up at the dollar store!
Granted, this works great for cards and projects, but what about layouts?  Here's something I do when that comes up.

Remember this stuff from school?  Mine is empty because I think it fell behind my desk or something.  Ugh.  Anyway, grab a little of this.

Stick it on a wall in whatever room you want to take your layout photo.

Stick your layout to the wall.  Turn on all the lights and get some lamps too (uncovered means take the shades off)! :)

Is it the best photo ever?  No.  But, you don't see a flash, the layout is square in the picture and you've got a fairly decent picture to share, right?  That's something!

If you have more tips, feel free to share them in the comments! This is just what works for me. 


Melanie said...

great. I need to do a better job with this. Sometimes I'm just lazy!

Kelly B Rutherford said...

This was super duper helpful!!! Thanks so much!