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June 24, 2011
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Artisan Crafts Photography by VioletRosePetals Artisan Crafts Photography by VioletRosePetals
...Tutorial

It wouldn't fit in the title.

I know it's in artisan crafts when it's a photography tutorial, but it's specifically about photographing your artisan crafts, so I believe it fits.

Anyway, I've been hearing from jewelry makers and many other artisan crafters, especially those trying to sell their wares, that they have a lot of trouble taking decent photos of their work. They're crafters after all, not photographers! The colors are always wrong, or it's out of focus, or the photo just looks...off somehow.

I used to have the same problem. But I read a few things here and there, fiddled around with settings and backgrounds and lighting and such, and eventually came up with a formula that I think works rather well.

Well, here it is in tutorial form! I know it's far from perfect, and I only have my own camera and software to go by, but I hope it helps anyone who needs it. I tried to make it as detailed as possible, if you still have questions let me know and I'll address them.

'Spinny Scroll Wheel' is a true technical term. I swear! ;P

EDIT: Yes I just found that typo 'You're camera's all set' Yes. You are camera's all set. :XD: I'll fix it...eventually. If there are any more I'll fix them eventually too.

Before and after image:


If you like the earrings in the tutorial, the actual deviation for them is here:


Oh, and NATURAL LIGHT IS ALWAYS BEST!!! I LOVE YOU SUNSHINE!!!:sun:

And check out these other tutorials on craft photography:

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:bulletpurple:Visit my Artfire Shop!
:bulletpurple:Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr!
:bulletpurple:Become a fan on Facebook!

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Add a Comment:
 
:iconhelloheath:
helloheath Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
thank you for featuring my tutorial! :-)
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:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome! :D
Reply
:iconbittykitty:
bittykitty Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
If I wanted to take the photo's on pretty paper instead of white paper, would this still work for me?
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Of course, although keep in mind that if you use a colored paper, whatever it is you're photographing may end up with a color cast from the paper (depending on lighting and the colors/textures of the object itself), which is the reason I like to use white, it works with anything. But experiment with it and have fun! The way I like to do things won't be everyone else's favorite way. This tutorial is simply what I've found works for me, and I decided to share it because I know I'm not the only one who had a ton of issues when I first started trying to take decent pictures of what I made. There are so many artisan craft deviations on DeviantART that aren't properly represented because of bad lighting or focus or an insufficient knowledge of camera settings, I'm just trying to help out by sharing what little knowledge I have. But I mean this as a building block. Once one figures it out, they should go nuts with it and find what works best for them. :)
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:iconbittykitty:
bittykitty Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I will. I'm just waiting for a nice day... It's been rain for the last few.
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah I see.
Reply
:iconsir-herp:
Sir-Herp Featured By Owner May 15, 2013  Student General Artist
Me being the type to not read manuals, I never did quite figure out what the flower symbol meant, haha. Thanks for the tut! Very helpful, and great results.
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner May 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're quite welcome, I'm glad it helped! :D
Reply
:icondigikijo:
digikijo Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'm sure this is going to help me, especially the tip with the ISO. thanks a lot.
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem. :)
Reply
:iconmorbidfool:
MorbidFool Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Helpful! :'D
Any idea where I can neckwear displays, though?
I can only find ones for puny little pendants, etc. :/ They won't hold my big chokers.
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Ever heard of FireMountainGems.com? They're awesome for everything jewelry, and I know they have several different sizes and styles of displays. If theirs don't work for you, there's always Ebay, and I'm sure someone somewhere has displays available on Artfire.com or Etsy.com. If none of that works, you could always do a Google Shopping search and see what comes up. :)
Reply
:iconkiki-chii:
kiki-chii Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you for making this, it was exactly what I was looking for! :glomp: I have been taking a crazy amount of pics and they all seem to turn out 'yellowish' - the nicest way to describe them. Yucky is probably the best word, though :dummy: !
I shall link some of my done pics when I get them uploaded! Thank you!! :heart:
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're quite welcome, I'm glad I could help! I would love to see your before and after pictures!
Reply
:iconfinalvirucide:
FinalVirucide Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Good pics of my stuff always seem to elude me. Thanks for making this tutorial! :)
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome, glad I could help! I just wanted to help people out because there are A LOT of wonderful pieces on this site that have been photographed horribly, and it really is a shame. Makes it hard for people to appreciate their work, and by extension makes it much more difficult to sell.

I'm by no means saying that I'm the best at photographing jewelry or other small items. I've just picked up a thing or two by messing around with light, my camera, and by looking at professional catalog photographs, and just thought I'd share what I've learned so others don't have to guess. :)
Reply
:iconuniversedreams:
UniverseDreams Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I used this tutorial for photographing my Heart of the Ocean handmade necklace: [link] Very helpful and would recommend. :aww: Thank you! :+fav: :heart:
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome, and thank you!
Reply
:iconblueskies21:
BlueSkies21 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011
Thank you!!! :hug:
Seriously, the most difficult thing for me has been knowing what kind of lighting to use when photographing items... no one ever told me I should try doing it NEXT to light! :D This tutorial, along with [link] has helped me convert this ugliness [link] (where i had to remove the background completely because of its hideousness) to this [link] (much less of an eyesore!)
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome! Like I said in my comments, I used to struggle with photography A LOT. But I figured it out and thought I'd make it easier for anyone who read this tutorial. :) Thanks for showing me that other tutorial! I'm gonna add it to my artist comments. You've done a great job on both of those cups! And those pictures with the blue background are quite lovely!
Reply
:iconracoontoon:
racoontoon Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
You have given good advice, milady. Way to go!
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! I'm glad to help! :)
Reply
:iconracoontoon:
racoontoon Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Haha, you're welcome.
Thank you, too.
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
:D You're welcome!
Reply
:iconnetherwings:
netherwings Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2011  Student Artisan Crafter
Wonderful tip, thank you! :heart:
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome, and thanks for stopping by! :D
Reply
:iconnetherwings:
netherwings Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2011  Student Artisan Crafter
Oh, any time! :D
Reply
:iconmysilentsolace:
mysilentsolace Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011
Extremely helpful, thanks!
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome, and thanks for the comment. :)
Reply
:icon0rangerayne:
0rangerayne Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011
great, sometimes i do something similar.
Reply
:iconelderarc:
elderarc Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thanks, nicely done! :D

I have daylight bulbs and they only cost $5 for a 2-pack at Home Depot. I also use a $2 slate tile that I got there. They also give free flooring samples that are 3 inches by 3 inches and I have 8 or 9 different wood and stone finishes if I want to use them. :D

I also use a black piece of poster board on the opposite side of the light to cast a shadow on shiny stuff. It gives depth.
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome, and thank you! :D

You know, I've tried the daylight bulbs and they give me the same problem as regular ones, only they make everything red instead of yellow. That's why I find it easier to just wait for the sun.

I do like that slate background! It works really well with your pieces. I'm not so much a fan of the wood though...personally I think it's a little too busy for small items. But that's a great idea, getting floor samples...I just might have to go to Lowes after work and check out their flooring department! ;)

Hmmm I never thought about doing that. I'm going to give it a try.

Where did you get that lovely white jewelry bust? [link] I've been wanting one for a while now, and haven't been able to find a good one.
Reply
:iconelderarc:
elderarc Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
I got it on Ebay for $20 with free shipping. They sell them all day long in white, black, wood and frost colors. :) It's very small, like 8 inches maybe? It's not life sized at all but it photographs well with a black or dark background. I've used dark brown, blue and green backgrounds behind it too. I always put a disclaimer in my listings that it's not life sized. :nod:

Odd, I never get a red cast to my photos! I get true daylight bulbs and the colors are true. Of course, I use Gimp or Picassa to adjust the exposure and to brighten them.

I've considered using a white linen base but my shop is full of the slate so changing now would look odd. :D

I couldn't believe the 12 x 12 slate tile was like... $1.97! I was very happy to snatch one up. :D

Do you ever use a neutral color picker in your editing? With Gimp and Picassa (and I'm pretty sure Photoshop has it also) you can select like a black or white eyedropper and click on a black or a white area and it auto adjusts all the colors in your photo to what they should be. That would solve the red cast if needed. :D
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Awesome! I'll have to check that out. *dusts off ancient unused ebay account*

A white base wouldn't look odd in your shop, it would just mix it up a bit. Post something with the slate, then the white, then maybe something on your bust, then another texture, then the white, then slate, etc. It would make your shop pop more with different colors and textures. :D

I have it, but it doesn't work all that well (usually over corrects and turns everything blue), probably because I don't have 'real' photoshop, I just have photoshop elements, which is like, the bare minimum. The only thing I ever use in there is the brightness and contrast, and occasionally the stamp tool if I crop my image to my liking and I still see carpet in the corner. I've tried just about every tool in there, but none of them work the way I want. Gah! I just wish I had the money to spend on the latest Photoshop CSwhatever.
Reply
:iconelderarc:
elderarc Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
I've never used Photoshop in my life! :no: I use Gimp and it can do anything Ps can do and it's free. I've been using Gimp for years to draw and photo edit. :nod:

I've had my shop critiqued and multiple times people have told me it's too busy and to stick to 2 to 3 backgrounds tops. :( I've since had to go and change all my backgrounds to either manni, stone or wood tile. I've been told it's better to have a consistent background so it hampers me. :(
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Where do you get this Gimp? It sounds incredibly useful and economical.

Yeah, I guess you're right...consistency gives the impression of organization...and people like organization. Otherwise it's SENSORY OVERLOAD!
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:iconelderarc:
elderarc Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
Here is Gimp: [link] There is a download button and it costs absolutely nothing. The first time I tried it I was clueless! I'd never so much as seen a photo manip. program or done anything graphics wise and I hated it. Then I found tutorial sites and learned some, and I started keeping a binder of printed tutorials. Don't let the beginning version fool you.

I've loaded mine with custom brushes over the years and you can find free fonts on Dafont.com and use them. There are tutorials all over the place for customizing the interface and with mine fully loaded, I'm very happy. The default interface is ok but once you can do what you want with it, it's cool. There are pretty in depth color menus too! Layers and curves, etc. If you're familiar with photoshop you should do ok with Gimp.

Here is a resource site: [link]

One of our very own deviants has wonderful digital art tutorials using Gimp and also he teaches some brush customization I think: [link]

Good luck and have fun!!

Val~
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:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much for all the info! I'm going to download it and play for a while...
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconiriai88:
iriai88 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Awesome! Thanks for the tutorial. You wouldn't know how to make a photo light-box by any chance, would you?
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Erm, like a box that's white on all sides on the inside? Sure! I've never made or tried to use one, but I saw how to do it in a book I bought called The Handmade Marketplace (it's a really good book for anyone who wants to sell their wares, and is only $14.95 USD. It has everything from taxes to photo tips to blogging and advertising tips...It's worth every penny). I think eventually I'll try it out and maybe make another tutorial.

Anyway, the book says:
"Find a decent-sized box and remove one of the sides and the top, leaving three sides and a bottom. (A three-sided box lets you shoot from above or straight on.) A large packing box will do, even an old plastic storage tub will work. Heck, as long as it has three sides, just about anything will suffice. You'll also need some clean, unwrinkled white paper that's able to fit over all sides of the box and an adjustable lamp like a swing-arm desk lamp or even one of those clip-on silver industrial lamps that are available at any hardware store.

Now, attach the white paper inside the box's three sides and bottom with bulldog or binder clips. then set up your lamp, and shine it into the box. Place your item in the box, and adjust the light to your liking. There should be no glare on the object you're photographing. If you need to diffuse the light, try putting a piece of sheer fabric or even a dryer sheet over the light (making sure it won't catch fire!) or redirecting (reflecting) the light by bouncing it off a piece of white or black paper, or even the ceiling. Okay, now you're ready to lean in and click away."

Personally I don't like to use artificial light. In my experience it makes everything turn yellow. However, you can buy natural lights which don't do that. To get a really good one though (not just those blue light bulbs) you will have to put down a bit more cash. But with a light box like this you can still use sunlight. If you want to redirect the light, simply turn the box.
Reply
:iconiriai88:
iriai88 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Wow, thank you!

Yeah, I like natural light, too, but sometimes the weather just doesn't permit it.
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, it may not always be sunny, but if it's cloudy I just go outside and use the overcastness like I use shade in the tutorial. Works about the same. Just need a little bit more on the brightness when you go edit. When it's raining on the other hand...well then I just wait. Where I live it does rain a bit, but never for too long.
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:iconxecaria:
Xecaria Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I have the exact same camera.

While I don't do artisans just yet, I am planning to and this helped a lot. Thanks!
Reply
:iconvioletrosepetals:
VioletRosePetals Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha awesome! Yeah, I figured I might as well do it specific, so that people with the same camera could figure it out easier, and people who have different cameras could get a better idea (because I'm really bad with explaining things like that without pointing :XD:)

When I first started taking pictures of my own items, it was a nightmare. They'd look just fine to my eyes, but for some reason the camera couldn't just take a picture of what I saw! WHY YOU MAKE EVERYTHING YELLOW?! was always my frustrated question. Simple. Because I was taking pictures at night on my bed using artificial light, and not enough of it. :roll: But over time, little by little, I figured it out. And today I thought I'd make it easier for everyone else to figure it out! :D
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