How to Photograph Cards for Cardmakers... It's All About the Flash
We've all done it. We've made our cards and gingerly took a quick picture using a digital camera or our cell/mobile phone.
We upload it to our blog, yet the picture is dark and doesn't look 'right'.
I totally understand the frustration, when I started my card-making-blog, over seven years ago (Yikes), I used to put my cards under a scanner and just hoped for the best.
I knew then I couldn't possibly compete with professional photographers but secretly I was very envious of all the other cardmakers' blogs where their greeting cards looked 'just like they do in magazines'.
A Quick Search on Google and It Became Clear
So I searched online to see if I could get a few quick tips and came across a few websites, apart from the very technical ones.
I was lucky to find a few quick fixes that will give my picture taking to a slightly more professional level.
Unfortunately I can't remember the photographic site that dished out those pearls of wisdom but I quickly made a note of the main three tips in my mind.
3 Tips for Better Custom Card Photography
So here are the three tips so that you can improve the look of your cards when you want to upload them to your blog:
1. Switch the Flash off on Your Camera
- I know it seems silly and you think that the picture will become dark but don't worry tip number two will fix that.
- The reason you want the flash off is because it makes everything look flat and unnatural. It also creates shadows where you don't want them and your cards look like they've been caught in a traffic light!
2. Look for the Instruction Booklet for Your Digital Camera
- (You can go to the manufacturer's website and download it there if you lost it) and check if your camera has this setting called EV (exposure value) and then set it at 0.7 + you can 'push' it to 1.0 + if need be, just experiment. What this does is to tell the camera to get more light in, so that you're actually forcing the camera to overexpose your picture.
- Honestly, it's ok because the next step is to fix it once you've taken the picture using a free software called Picasa.
- If you have other pictures software enhancer, that's cool, use the one you have.
- The setting you want to hit is the automated quick/instant fix. This will just automatically enhance the picture like magic.
- You can also play with the saturation setting to give your cards' pictures 'more colour'.
3. Finally You Need a White Box (Also Called Lightbox)
- I was lucky enough I found one in my local Maplin (computer and electronics retailer in the UK) but you can make your own with a fairly deep box.
- Just cut out the two flaps that fasten the box plus one side, then line your box with white cardstock (it doesn't have to be good quality just white).
- Next use a table lamp and shine the light from above but directing against one of the sides so that it reflects the light back to your card.
- You might need to prop up your table lamp with a smaller box or like I did on the picture with a kitchen paper roll (yep I'm that technologically minded).
- You could always 'take it outside' like Lindsay Obermeyer did to get the best natural light (go and have a look—it's pure genius).
So what about it ? Is a good picture of a greeting card helpful when bloghopping ?
Take Several Pictures of Your Card from Various Angles
Since we don't have to develop pictures anymore in this day and age, don't be stingy with your picture taking, just go for it and you'll start to feel like a professional photographer. Take at least 5 to 8 pictures of your cards 'moving' around the card and varying the angle of your camera, my best pictures usually are made when I put the card slightly at a jaunty angle and take the picture from below looking up.
You'll want to experiment so that you can find what works for you, so go for it and also try to avoid taking a picture of your card from the front that's why I position my card slightly off. You'll pick, then, all the card layers (if any) and people will appreciate more your cardmaker's skills.
Also and this is a total bonus, no matter how good your matting or positioning of your elements on your card there will always be something that looks a bit off, when taking a picture this way, it kinda corrects these 'mistakes' as you can't really tell. Shhhh that's a secret! lol
If you have any tips of your own about how to photograph handmade cards, please leave a comment below! Thanks!
Questions & Answers
Question: What light bulb do you use when taking pictures of handmade holiday cards for my blog?
Answer: I personally use LED light bulbs they seem to be very bright but tend to have a cold effect on objects, that’s why I edit my pictures using google photos to ‘correct’ them. You can experiment with various types of bulbs to see which one works for you.
Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on November 29, 2018:
Thank you that's very kind of you :D especially when it comes from a fellow Canuck
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 14, 2018:
Enjoyed reading your article. You have good tips and made it so interesting.
Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on May 30, 2016:
You're welcome Fiona ! :)
Fiona from South Africa on May 30, 2016:
I have always battled to get decent pix of all my craft projects but I think that this is a solution that is simple and one that will work and - best of all, I have everything I need already so no spending any money. Thanks so much!
Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on May 17, 2016:
You're welcome Debbie :)
Fabrizio Martellucci (author) from London, United Kingdom on August 07, 2015:
Totally empathise with your predicament about lighting, I tend to crank up the contrast and saturation when I use a photo editor such as Fotor (Picasa is good too), it brings back the colour although the card will seem slightly different than the real thing, .....people will never know. Thank you for your lovely compliment about my hubs. There are more articles to come as I'm moving them over from my 'soon to be gone' website cardmakingnews.com :D
Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on August 07, 2015:
All your craft Hubs are excellent. After 10 years I am still experimenting with photos. It is hard to get the lighting just right and paper seems to absorb light. Colors drive me crazy.