How to Take Professional Photographs of Crafts

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012

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Taking professional photographs of your crafts can be a daunting experience. From shaky images to bad lighting, no matter how great the craft, a bad photograph will make even Martha Stewart's creations look sloppy. Kristen Magee of the sumptuous (and beautifully photographed) Paper Crave shares how to take professional craft photographs without having a degree or even a fancy camera. Following these craft photography tips will take your blog or handmade shop to the next level.

a birthday card from Paper Crave
What makes a good, professional photograph?

Good lighting, smart composition and eye-catching crispness and color.

Which mistakes do you see beginners making when taking photos?

The biggest mistake that I see is poor lighting. I understand that getting just the right lighting for a photo is one of the biggest challenges in photography, which is why experimenting with different lighting angles and types of lighting is so important. Too much or too little light can ruin an otherwise great photo, and certain types of lighting can give photos an unappealing color cast that’s difficult to correct, even in an editing program like Photoshop.

For the cheapo or bargain hunter, which basic photography supplies will get professional (enough) photographs?

You don’t need a $1000+ camera to get great photos. A decent point and shoot camera, a good source of natural light (a large window or an outdoor space that doesn’t get too much direct sunlight), a piece of foam board or Styrofoam to use as a bounce, and an inexpensive or free backdrop (a tabletop or some scrap fabric) can go a long way towards helping you create high-quality photos. And remember to practice, practice, practice!

Any tips for creating a background for photos? Will a sheet suffice?

Yes, an ironed sheet can certainly work in a pinch as can fabric, a wood tabletop with an interesting grain pattern or even a piece of foam board that’s been painted.

Props in a craft photo — yay or nay?

I love props when they’re done well. But, if you go overboard, you can easily lose the item that you want to focus on amongst a sea of props. I’d recommend that you use them sparingly, if at all, and make sure that any props you do use make sense in the context of the photo.

And then there's photo editing. What are some sure-fire things to do to improve a photo so it looks professional?

Many photos can use a little sharpening, and I also tend to adjust the contrast and saturation a bit, if needed. Properly cropping a photo can make a huge difference, too.

Image credits (from top): Quill & Fox, Quill & Fox

Kristen Magee of Paper Crave
Do you have a question about craft photography or stationery and paper crafts for Kristen? You can ask here in the comments or via Facebook or Twitter. If you have a question about a specific item, you can email us an image at

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