Monday, September 21, 2009

Photography Tutorial for the Normal Person - No Fancy Equipment Needed!

First off, this is not a tutorial for taking perfect, studio-quality pictures with expensive equipment. This is a tutorial for taking good pictures of your products without a studio, light box, proper lighting, a fancy camera or even Photoshop. If you have $5 to $10 dollars and a camera and you want good pictures of your stuff you've come to the right place.

I take my pictures in my living room, preferably during daylight, but it doesn't matter much since not much light reaches my windows in this room anyway. I have managed to take good pictures at night using just my crappy standing lamps. I have two little boys and the nice thing about this is that you can't even tell how messy my house is, since I'm taking pictures up against a wall. Table space is a rare species around here, nearly extinct, so another nice thing is I use a stool, not a table. You do need a digital camera, but it doesn't have to be fancy, a point and shoot will work fine. For this tutorial I also didn't adjust the white balance on my camera in case you can't/don't know how.

What I do have is maybe three yards of cheap bleached muslin, a dowel, two clothes pins, a small length of wire (six inches or so) and two push pins to hold up the clothes pins, a stool, a digital camera and a fabulous FREE! photo editing program you can access on the internet. No download required. Oh, and a pretty product I want to list on my Etsy shop.

I'll divide this into two parts, Taking the Picture, and Editing the Picture.

Part I: Taking the Picture
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Liane said...

WOWOW! What a fantastic tutorial!! This must have taken you hours and hours. I use Gimp for photo editing but for my next photo shoot I'm going to print out your tutorial and give picnik a try!! Do you have any advice on where and how to crop photos to a square shape?

Liane (visiting from SFEtsy)

Kate McFaul said...

Thanks! This was definitely one of the more time consuming posts to write. =)

Picnik can do square shapes or 4x6 or 5x7 or 8x10, etc. There's a drop-down menu for choices. Easy peasy!

Jen said...

bee-YOUtiful! This is fantastic! Thank you so much for all this great info. I feel like I have great tools as I go to work on my pics! Yay!

Jen (the Mama in Mama's Magic Studio, fellow SFetsy member)

AngieHandmade said...

Wow, great tips! I love Picnik, too, but now realize I'm not using it to its full potential. One question: do you have a rule of thumb for dimensions on you cropped photos? I've been doing mine square, but wonder if that's the best idea, given that thumbnails and gallery views have different dimensions. Or maybe it doesn't matter that much? Thanks.

Angie (another SFetsy member)

Kate McFaul said...

Jen - thanks!

Angie - I crop my photo how I like it to look, but I always keep in mind that it will be 8x10 for the featured photo and square for the listing, so I make sure that however I crop it it looks good in either dimension. Does that help?

AngieHandmade said...

Yes, that helps. Thanks so much. I just re-edited a couple of my phots and they look so much better than before. I know they'll get even better with practice.


Patricia said...

I got your tutorial link from a Kendre Renee. I have been using Picasa and from your tutorial Picnik is the one to use.

Thanks so much for your help

Patricia, dlist
As I know better I will do better

Ashley Smoot said...

Hi! Love your tutorial! Just what I was looking for! Linking to my blog.

Thanks for the help!!
Wooly World