Crafty Business

Me and Photography: a battle to the death

This is something I’ve struggled with ever since I started blogging 4 years ago. Photography. It’s not my strong suit. There are a lot of things that I latch on to and naturally pick up. It clicks. I get it. It’s easy. Photography is not one of those things.

We need to be photobloggers if we want to be good craftbloggers.

Unfortunately for me, and other bloggy folks like me, it’s just too bad. I need to suck it up and get better at it. If you can’t see the project in person then the photos are all you get. When your crafty business is internet based, your photography needs to be really good because that’s all people see about your product. They can’t touch it or thumb through it. They can’t feel how awesome the recycled paper feels. They won’t notice how awesome your layout is for your zine is (my zine) if the photos showing it are dim/overblown/out of focus/badly composed.

Photos sell. I know I buy what looks pretty.

When I read other craft blogs, if the picture doesn’t make me want to read about the project. I don’t. Simple as that. If the project looks interesting, I read about it and make it, buy it, or relink. I’m pretty sure that about 90% of the people reading craft blogs feel the same way.

dishcloth-vers203-feature

{this one turned out okay, but I think it could be much better}

Recommitting to getting better.

It’s time to roll up my sleeves and get better. This is about the 3rd time I’ve come to this point. About once a year I usually get fed up with my lack of skills. Each time I get a little better.

My photos over the last year are on average better than the year before. But this year they are not going to be “on average better.” They are going to kick last year’s photos ass. That’s right. Ass kicking photos coming soon…or at least progress towards ass kicking photos.

It will, like learning any skill, take time on the back end as well as on the front end. Bear with me. It’s not an immediate change, but hopefully a gradual progression.

My main issues

My studio is now in a room with no windows. I have no access to natural light. What worked before no longer does. It’s forcing me to learn about lighting.

I also get impatient. Instead of shooting the same shot several ways I do a “Meh, it’s good enough.” That is not good enough and I’m working on it.

For example, last month I took these pictures for a post two weeks ago about scrap yarn organization:

scrapyarn02

scrapyarn03

Yikes.

By taking 10 minutes to reshoot with my tripod and play with the set up I got these. Thankfully used them instead.

scrapyarn06

scrapyarn05

Some resources on photography for creative blogs

I started keeping an eye out for blogs who’s photography I love. Here are my top 5.

Do Stuff by Leethal (Lee Meredith) – She is by trade a photographer and has turned her sights on crafts. Her lighting, compositions, and colors are amazing.

Orange You Lucky – I love the way she mixes up her photos with little drawings, doodles, and writing. While it’s not something I’ve tried yet, it’s something I would like to. Her photos in general are really nice too.

Vegan Yum Yum – Delicious recipes and great photos! What could be better? Maybe her explaining how she takes such great shots. She does, right here. I think a lot of what works for food bloggers can work for craft bloggers too.

Ysolda – I love her knitwear designs. In fact I think she’s my favorite. Part of that is how well she photographs her work and herself. She takes really great tutorial shots too. Definitely something to aspire to in both my design work and my documentation.

Design Sponge – Always a place to get inspired. They pull their photos from a variety of sources, but they are always stellar. If I could, every picture of my home would look like that…but then I would need a home that looks that nice–some day.

These the 2 main resources that are guiding my way. As soon as I decide to learn about something, I have to look things up and buy at least one book.

Light: Science and Magic – I came across this book last week and was really happy that it took a pretty “from the basics,” low tech approach. While there is some more complex/fancy/expensive lighting equipment, most of it is pretty low tech and accessible both in price and in how it’s presented.

Professional Photography 101 – At first I thought this listed a ton of google ads. It’s actually a huge list of tutorials and articles on photography with google ads every once and awhile, not so bad.  I really like the section on Studio Lighting Techniques.

As I learn things, I’ll make sure to post about it from time to time. Hopefully it will just be an ongoing behind the scene thing that makes Craft Leftovers an overall better reading experience.

Happy shooting!

Kristin Roach

2 thoughts on “Me and Photography: a battle to the death

  1. I’m with you. I try to get clear well-lit shots, but a lot of times my photos lack personality. Also, I live in Oregon, where the natural light is not abundant for part of the year (the rainy part!)… I have been trying to light my stuff inside, but it hasn’t been great! I am halfway done with a lightbox (I have the frame built out of PVC pipe, and the lights, but I need to sew a fabric cover for it.

  2. I’m right there with you, Kristin. I don’t blog yet but I need reference pictures then pix of my creations. My camera’s manual wasn’t written for me; my brain just doesn’t work that way. Thanks for posting the blogs and books to look for. So far,I have learned 2 things: try not to use the flash (easier for me in eastern NC,I know) because it washes color & texture and, get as close as you can (“macro” photography is my new word). Now, to learn how to do it!
    Good luck, Suzanne

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