No matter what kind of camera (or smart phone) you’re using to take a photo of a project – and no matter whether you just want to email a friend the photo, post it on Facebook or attract buyers on Ravelry or Etsy, the tips that follow can help you create a better photo of your work.
Before you pick up that camera, be sure your project is well blocked (if appropriate), free of fuzz or stray fibers and is displayed without distracting or distorting wrinkles or folds.
- Use natural light whenever you can. Natural light will show the colors truer. It will also avoid the harsh shadows or hots spots that wash out details of texture and stitches that happen when you use a flash or indoor lighting. Arrange your fiber project either outdoors or inside next to a window or open door with good light. The best light will be in the morning before 10 a.m. or in the afternoon after 3 p.m.
- Arrange your knitting or crocheting so the light hits it from the side. When the light falls across your work from the side you get a more dramatic effect that brings out the stitch pattern and the texture better. One side of every stitch, row or bump is light and the other side darker, so there’s greater contrast.
- Keep the background simple. The star of your photo is your fiber work; don’t make it compete with a background. You can use a stucco wall, a wooden fence or lattice, a tree branch, a neutral table cloth or length of fabric hung behind the work or painted poster or foam core board as a back drop. Don’t use bright white, intense colors or pitch black backgrounds. They will cause your camera to make adjustments that will distort the colors or give a faulty exposure reading in the finished photo.
- “Pose” your work carefully. It’s best to hang your knitted or crocheted projects or have someone model them. Putting knitting or crocheting flat on a table, bed or floor can distort the shape because of the angle that you are shooting at. If you use a model, remember the portrait should be of the work – not the person. Sometimes showing the item in context – a gloved hand holding a snowball or an umbrella, a baby blanket draped over a crib – makes for a great photo that tells a story.
- Work all the angles. Don’t just shoot one shot and call it a day. Think of all the elements you may want to focus on: the stitch pattern, an edge detail, the overall look, shape and drape of a piece. Be sure to take photos that focus on each one of those. Get the front, the back, the top of a slouchy hat, the heels of a pair of socks – really challenge yourself to take lots of photos from different perspectives. If your work is a gift, this may be your only chance to get these shots.
- Don’t forget the post-production work. There are few photos that can’t be improved with cropping, exposure tweaking or color corrections. You don’t have to be a PhotoShop maven to do this. There are a number of free, easy-to-use graphic design sites that are free that allow you to adjust the exposure, make the photo level (or tilt it artistically), brighten or soften lighting, add text, intensify colors and so on and so on. Examples include PicMonkey, Canva, PIXLR Editor, BeFunky, Picozu, and Fotor, which are web-based tools. Croppola, also web-based, as its name suggests is primarily used for cropping photos.
- Crop to fit the medium. Most web and social media sites prefer horizontal photos rather than vertical ones; Pinterest prefers verticals. Each has a different size parameter that will show photos off to their best when posted on that site. Here’s a link to a wonderful cheat sheet for getting the dimensions for various social media outlets from MarketingTechBlog.com. If you are posting project photos to your Ravelry account, be sure that the longest edge of the photo is at least 1000 pixels to be able to take advantage of Ravelry's zoom feature.
- A Playful Day blog. In a guest post on tips for photographer for knitting bloggers, there are several photos that show imaginative ways to photograph socks, sweaters and shawls using different backgrounds and angles.
- Lexa Lex blog. Alexa, this blog's author, has a stylized look -- faded 1960s vintage -- that may not be to everyone's taste. She also is a big user of props that are excellent used well, but can be very distracting when not. Alexa creates interesting still lifes with yarn and excels at showing texture.
- Megan Goodacre, IG Knitting: Photography. She wrote and photographed the Complete Idiot's Guide to Knitting (2013 edition). She uses a stark, minimalist set up that keeps the process simple and shows off knitting well.
- Lolly Knitting Around blog. This blog has some nice photos of sweaters and cowls being modeled so that the work stands out rather than the model.
- This Handmade Life; Knitting, Baking, Crafting & Crocheting. There are some beautiful photos of knitting on this site. The photographer used amazing light, different set ups and shot different angles to create gorgeous photos.