Card making, rubber stamping techniques and project videos for papercrafters

One of the things we get asked a lot, is how to take better photos of your cards and projects. So I've compiled a list of tips that I've found work. Feel free to add tips of your own.

Camera Settings

Use a high resolution on your camera. On my camera, this is the Picture Size option, found in my menu. There are about 5 different options. The smaller the size, the more pictures I can fit on my memory card. That is great for vacations when you want to save a bunch of photos before you get home, but for cardmaking, it’s better to go with a larger size, for better resolution. Then when you crop, you won’t lose clarity on your photo. Using too low a resolution can also cause graininess. I use the second largest setting on my camera.

Use the macro setting – This usually is a tiny flower image on the settings button, used for close-up photography.

Use the appropriate lighting settings on your camera. Sometimes that will be an external switch or button, other times, you have to use the menu button and look for something that shows a sun/clouds/lamp or other similar graphic. It may be called Balance. If you are using artificial light, then the setting should be set for that. If it’s sunny outside you can adjust for that condition, or for cloudy conditions, and so on. This is super important for getting accurate color.

Never use the flash! This can cause graininess, and washes out color.

Taking Photos

Take several pictures and review them in a photo editing program to choose the best one. I rarely take less than 8 photos of my finished project and that is if I feel like I am getting really good shots.

Don’t get too close to the subject. It’s easy to get blurry and slightly distorted images if you are too close to the subject. The closer you are to the subject, the more steady your hand has to be. Much better to take it further back and then crop it later.

Prop your card up using a plate stand or lean it against something. Always have your card at a bit of an angle. Too much of an angle will make it look distorted, though. One common mistake I see a lot is to have your card on a table or counter and take your photo while standing. You should sit or bend down, so that you are near eye lever with your subject.

If you have a lovely backdrop for your photos, that is wonderful, but if you don’t, try using sheets of paper to hide a messy desk. I keep two sheets of black, white and Soft Sand cardstock at my desk and usually try at least two colors for each project.

Another option for a backdrop is to use a lightbox. You can find one online or make your own.

Using a tripod, if you have one will eliminate shaking and make crisper photos. If that isn’t an option, try resting the camera on a table, or hold it while bracing your elbows on a table.

Take close up photos of important design elements on your card for a nicer blog post.

Use a well lit area for taking your photos. Try different spots in your house to find the best spot.

Add additional lighting if you don’t have a well lit area. Ott lights are great for providing natural light. I use an Ott Light desk lamp, as well as a regular desk lamp for my photos.

Editing Your Photos

Crop your photos. Upload to a photo editing program like Photoshop and crop the image, but not too closely. Leave a border all around so your subject will stand out.

Enhance the photo by using the Auto Smart Fix option (Photoshop) or adjust color, contrast, brightness and sharpness manually. This can really help when your photo is just a tad too dark, or there is some glare.

Use the “save for web” option when saving your photograph and change the size to whatever size you want. This option will save your photo in jpg format, which is web friendly. 1000 pixels is usually large enough to fill most computer screens. If you upload it to your blog, blogger will scale it down for your post and if someone clicks on it, they can see the full size. If you are planning to upload your photo directly into a forum thread, you might want to scale it down to 400-500 pixels wide.

Adding a Watermark

I used Photoshop, but you could use any photo editing program. Click on the text tool and drag your cursor to create the bot where you want the watermark. Then type in the text you want. There are options to change the font type, font size and color above. Make the adjustments to your liking. I like to have the color be a nice contrast to my photo, so if I am adding the text to a dark background, then I change the font to a light color. In the photo above you can see that I have added a text box in the upper right.

When you add text in Photoshop, it creates a new layer. You can adjust the opacity of the layer so that the watermark is somewhat transparent. Taste may vary on how transparent to make your watermark, but you want it to be visible, without distracting. Make sure your card takes center stage.

There are a lot of different ways to make watermarks and this is just one. Some people make up a fancy watermark and save the file, then add it as a new layer to their photos. If you do this, you probably will want a few made, one black, one white and maybe even a few other colors, so you will have something that will work regardless of the color of your card.

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Theresa- you are just the most fabulous thing in the world! Thank you so much for doing this!!! You rock girl!
Thank you Theresa. This is going to be so helpful. I have a terrible time photographing my cards so that they turn out looking as good as IRL. One of my problems is that I usually take the photos in late evening 'cuz that is when I am working in my stamp room (at work during daylight hours). But will have to do some more experimenting with lights so that I can get away from the flash. Again, thank you.
Thank you Theresa! This really helps to make beautiful pictures. I always wanted to know how i could add a watermark, so this is very helpfull! :)
Thank you!!! This is a great help. I am also a night time stamper and photo taker due to my day job. I especially like reading about the photoshop.
I just made a lightbox this weekend and it helps a lot for those cloudy days and when I need to shoot in the evening. Here are some instructions:

Here is a pic of mine. I bought a 150 watt daylight bulb, for a lamp we already had.

That's fantastic, Karen! It came out great. Thanks for sharing that link.
oh this is great.. now if only I could hire you to come over and do the camera settings LOL Its all so confusing ACK!
Theresa, this is amazing!! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your tips with us.

I personally use Picasa to edit my photos. I'm hoping that Santa will bring me Photoshop Elements or some software like this for Christmas!

Here's the link to the free download for Picasa 3.
Again Thank you for the wonderful insight on photography. You have answer a lot of question that I had.
Theresa, You are awesome! Thank you so much!
I found a free online photo editing program that I have been using and it is really easy, which I like!

Wow great tutorial -- hopefully my pics will start looking a bit better. We appreciate the help!
This is fantastic, Theresa! Thanks so much for all the helpful information!

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