You recently finished a project and now it’s sitting on your shelf? You showed it to your friends and they love it? Perhaps you’re now thinking about taking a photo or two and dropping them on Facebook or Instagram. Getting some positive comments on our work can give us a sense of reward and motivation for our next project.
On Pinterest, Ambytion or Instagram we automatically come across great photos of DIY projects. If you want to show your own creations on these platforms, it wouldn’t hurt to shoot your photos in a somewhat flattering way.
I’ll share a few tips here on how you can improve your photos a little bit without the involvement of expensive equipment and without it taking a lot of time. My tips are based on my own experience and observation of what works well. For taking great photos it makes no difference if your activities are improving your house or garden, knitting, sewing, woodworking, cooking, or maybe even building your own guitar. But let’s start with the equipment you already have.
Use your phone
You want to be authentic, right? If you create something in your spare time, and your product images are over the top, nobody would believe you. While you can use a DSLR camera, you for sure don’t have to! It is not a bad thing at all if people realize they are looking at an item that someone made in their spare time.
Mind the light
More important would be to make sure the light on your photo does not ruin it. Artifical light tends to produce an orange or yellow color cast. Using natural daylight can help you here. Did you ever notice that the light during sunrise or sunset is warmer and softer, yet bright enough? Avoid the strong sun during the day, it produces harsh shadows. If you’re shooting indoors, you can use your curtains to diffuse the light.
Shadows can add depth and dimension and make your photo more interesting. Make sure they are soft and don’t distract. Shoot on a cloudy day or in evening hours. You can try playing with the shapes of the shadows your object casts.
A background with pattern or motives such as flowers will distract the eye. In most cases a simple background makes your creation stand out. Wooden backgrounds always work well, especially for food. You’re always safe when you choose a dark background for light objects and a light background for dark objects. Other backgrounds you can try is fabric, a wall or even subtle pattern such as pale vintage flours. Did I just say a background with a pattern would distract?
You probably did not work on your project for the sole purpose of taking photos of it. But thinking about color can maybe even improve your item itself? Try contrast colors, chose them on a color wheel or let color-hex help you. If you can, experiment.
If you have the feeling your photo looks boring, try to change the angle. While food often looks great when being photographed from above, laying down on the floor or standing up on a latter can really change the viewers impression and make your photo more interesting.
Arrangement, Space, and Decoration
Arrange your object and decoration in a neat way to create visual interest and balance. Leaving your tools on your workbench is a great way to make sure your photo stays authentic, but make sure it does not look too messy and double check what you leave on the table.
Leaving space around your object allows the eye of the user to rest, and it draws attention to your product. Depending on your project, decoration could include leafs, spices, tools, paper-and-pen, or candles. And here is the pro tip: try adding a human element such as your hand. This way the viewer gets the impression to see everything from your perspective, the maker. Keep your phone or camera steady, as when you use this trick you’re shooting your photo with one hand only.
If you want to share your photos on social media, and I am sure you do, you should position your item in the center of the photo. This might be obvious but it often goes wrong and objects don’t show properly when social media platforms crop your photo in a media stream or on your profile page.
Tell a story
You can present your items in a way that you show it from different angels outlining different aspects or details. Or show how you did it in a how-to fashion style. In any case, the final item should go first when you show a series of photos to create a good starting point for your reader. Produce one photo that is really good, ideally of your finished product, to catch attention right in the beginning. This is your most important photo, while the others can be of lower quality and with less attention. It even makes it more authentic, especially in how to style stories.
Once you’ve mastered taking good photos, you should start playing with the parameters and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if doing the opposite of what I proposed would lead to a great photo. It always depends on the individual case and how it is done. I hope you enjoy showing your creations online.