How to Photograph Crafts: Become the Master of Your Lighting

Do you spend hours drooling over sexy yarn and fiber shots on social media? Are your handspun skeins, knitted sweaters, and woven scarves ready for their close-up? Using a smartphone and a few pieces of readily available gear, Jason Mullett-Bowlsby explains how to photograph crafts, enabling you to take your snapshots from “ho-hum” to “Wow!” simply by tweaking the lighting.

Great photos begin with the lighting. Jason, a professional photographer, shares these three lighting tips from his iCan Click photography course.

Direct lighting.

Direct lighting.

Get a Light Source

Jason recommends getting a cheap lamp with a clamp so that you can attach it where you need it. With your own light source, you control where the light goes. He also advises using only one type of light: fluorescent, LED, halogen, or incandescent. It doesn’t matter what kind you use; just don’t mix types of bulbs. Even though all light bulbs may appear white to the naked eye, light has color—some read more blue or yellow when photographed.

Diffused lighting.

Diffused lighting.

Diffuse It

Remember your high school science classes, where you learned that light travels in one direction—think of the direct light that comes from the sun at high noon and causes harsh shadows. Direct light is a start for photographing your crafts, but finessing these harsh rays can yield better results. Need to soften direct light’s strong shadows? Diffuse it! Jason suggests adding a piece of white cloth such as rip-stop nylon over the light source to mute its strength. (Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t cause a fire.) The white cloth disperses the lamp’s beam just as clouds scatter the rays of the sun, mellowing the harshness of the light. Notice the difference between the two images above. In the first one, the toy, lit by direct light, has a hot spot on the toy truck. In the second image, the diffused light spreads the illumination more evenly. But what about lighting the other side of the toy? The dark areas tell us adjustments still need to be made.

Diffused light with a bounce.

Diffused light with a bounce.

Diffuse It with a Bounce

One more tweak will bring this crochet truck out of the shadows. Jason says he uses diffused light about 90% of the time, but he always bounces the light with a reflector. Reflectors don’t need to be fancy: A simple piece of white paper does the job and bounces the light back to illuminate the shadowy areas. Voilà! Everything is illuminated in the photo above, showing off the toy’s beautiful stitch definition.

In the course iCan Click, Jason Mullett-Bowlsby teaches you to become a master of illumination with his tips and tricks for lighting, plus he explains how to build and use simple tools that do the job of pricey photo equipment, how to set up a simple home studio, and how to edit your images. Soon, others will be swooning at the sight of your stellar social media craft photos.

Click on!

Featured Image: Photographer Jason Mullett-Bowlsby shares his tips for taking great photos of your crafts.

Learn to take better photos of your handspun creations!


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