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Topic: Crafty Business Interview #5 - Compilation of answers to photography questions  (Read 1371 times)
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jungrrl
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« on: June 02, 2010 10:44:07 AM »

This interview was my nemesis. You may know that it's over a YEAR late. Things completely converged to make this incredibly impossible and I whole-heartedly apologize for my part in the hold up!

When Craftster was purchased by NameMedia I thought that interviewing Josh, the admin of photo.net, another NameMedia website, would be a fantastic idea.  Craftsters are always interested in making their shop pictures better and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to have an expert answer so many questions that I would never be able to! Unfortunately, Josh wasn't able to complete the entire interview. We're sad the full interview isn't available, but happy to share the bit of information we received from him.

Luckily sweets4ever is a bit of a photog herself and was able to fill in a few gaps.  I will place the remaining unanswered questions at the end and if you can help out, please do! I would love for anyone with photographic knowledge to share their answers here. Again I'm so sorry for the mess but hopefully there are a few gems of information in here for those of you looking to beef up your photography skills!



Here are the answers from Josh-photo.net:

What are your camera recommendations for those looking to spend as little as possible to get a reliable camera of decent quality?

Get whatever basic digital camera you can. You are probably going to spend$100-300 new. But since you aren't doing really high end photography, you could easily get by with a camera from a few years ago. The Canon SD series point and shoot cameras have always done well for me. But the brand doesn't really matter as long as it's from one of the well known companies, Canon/Nikon/Fuji/Kodak/Sony/etc. Try to avoid anything from a company that you've never heard of. The most important feature to look for in this price range is that the camera have a macro function. You will need it to take close up photos of small crafts or detail work for larger crafts. Most cameras have macro (usually indicated by a little flower icon above one of the buttons), but it's worth it to check.

What about those who want to spend (and get) a little more?

In this range you are looking at $300-700. The advantage here is that these cameras will have more features that you can use to get your images looking better. They will have manual exposure, the ability to use an external flash, and overall higher image quality. The Canon "G" series has always done well for me although my current favorite in this price range is the Panasonic LX3. Again, used gear can be your friend. A Canon g10 new runs about $450 a used canon g6 runs under $200. And the g6 will do most everything that you need as far as a digital camera for craft photography.

And those who are really serious about their photography and willing to pay for a quality camera?

Here is where you start getting into SLR cameras. You know, the big cameras that take different lenses and don't look all that much different from the one your dad used to bring out at family holidays. The price range here is $800-$2500 and that may or may not include the price of a lens. The advantages here are MUCH better image quality, better low light performance, the ability to use external flash, the ability to use different lenses and so on. Do you need all this stuff? Probably not if you are just shooting some photos of earrings you made or socks you knitted. But if you are trying to get fancier and do some fashion style photography with models for a
clothing line, you might look into learning a bit more about photography and getting an SLR. Just about anything from Canon/Nikon/Pentax/Sony is going to be fine here. If you have any friends or family members who have digital SLRs, you should see what brand they use because you may be able to borrow lenses from them if you get the same brand. Other than that, in all honesty, they are all about the same in a given price range. I use Canon DSLRs, but that's just because I have a lot of money tied up on Canon lenses. I could
do the photography I do with any of the DSLRs out there today.


Do you have any experience or opinions on all these new cameras coming out that are modeled after vintage plastic cameras? (ie some retailers selling Holgas and Dianas and so forth.)

The plastic cameras are a lot of fun. I've had a Holga forever. In fact, I wrote a photo.net article about the Holga that some might find interesting. However, you have to be careful not to overpay
for these "toy" cameras. The people at places like Lomography have done a great job of making them into "cool kid" cameras and charging a mint for them. they charge $55 for a Holga that sells for $27 from a legit mail order place like Adorama. What's worse, is that they charge $70 for a "holga kit" that comes with some book, a roll of electrical tape and one roll of film. For that price you could have the camera and 20 rolls of film from somewhere like Adorama.

Anyway, aside from the fact that shooting film can be more hassle than digital shooters are used to, the Holga/Diana/etc cameras can be a lot of fun for their dreamy cool images. Here's a shot of my wife and baby that I took with a Holga.





Here are the answers that sweets4ever was able to supply:

Craftsters are always on the lookout for a good DIY lightbox tutorial. Can you direct us toward some?

Here are some completed light boxes on Craftster, some including tutorials:
Artists lighbox a work of art in itself
DIY Photo Lightbox for under $5
Home Made Light Box.
Kids table to light diffuser box
LIGHT BOX...thanks Dragon*Fly **UPDATED**
Milk Jug Light Box For Photographing Small Items tutorial
Photo tent photos...need input please! w/pics & instructions on how I made it!
Tutorial - how to take effective jewellery and other small goods photography

Here are some links to tutorials that other members have mentioned:
http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2006/10/how_to_make_an_8.html
http://www.creativepro.com/story/feature/19002.html
http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/how-to-make-a-inexpensive-light-tent/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Collapsible-Light-Box-For-Those-Short-On-Space-And/
http://www.joyfulabode.com/2008/02/11/diy-lightbox-for-product-photography/
http://www.pbase.com/wlhuber/light_box_light_tent
http://photodoto.com/create-your-own-light-box/
http://reverb.madstatic.com/blog/2006/04/01/make-a-photo-light-box-light-tent-cheap/
http://sodoityourself.com/category/photography/
http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html
http://www.studiolighting.net/homemade-light-box-for-product-photography/

Are there any tried and true tips for taking photos of finished crafts? or common but easily avoidable mistakes?

Use natural, indirect lighting when possible.  Photograph near a large picture window in your home or outside in indirect sunlight.  Avoid harsh shadows that hide the amazing detailing of your projects.  Also avoid direct sunlight as it will give your photo a washed out appearance.

What background(s) would you recommend for product photos? Is fabric a good choice?  Do you have any tips for picking a background based on the color/pattern of the item?

Personally, I love using fabric, as well as a variety of colors and textures as product backdrops.  Black muslin is obviously a traditional background choice, but get creative and explore other options, too!  Utilize materials from your home and craft stash to use as product backdrops.  Fabric, a bamboo placemat, textured handmade paper, a knit blanket or even a small patch of grass in your yard can all make great product backdrops and
backgrounds.

Do you know of any good resources for portrait backdrops?

Your personal resource for portrait backdrop will vary depending on your choice of background material and your budget.  Denny Manufacturing is the leading manufacturer of muslin backdrops http://www.dennymfg.com/.

10"x20" backdrops are great to have in your stash because you can use them for product photos, single portraits and even small groups of people.  If this option is a bit out of your price range, a roll of seamless paper is another fantastic option for a portrait backdrop.

And, of course, nature is always a free and available backdrop for any portrait!  You don't have to strategically fold it to fit in the trunk of your car, either. ;-)  




Here are our remaining, unanswered questions. If you have answers, please share!  Smiley

Most Craftsters around here are looking for a good camera to take pictures of the items that they sell.   Are different cameras better at different things?  Is there anything to look for in a camera that will be used primarily to take product pictures?  A camera for taking photos that will be sold as prints?

What is your recommendation for a camera under $100? (Are there any decent
cameras in this range?)


What kinds of things can you do to make a cheap camera take the best pictures possible? Any particular settings or lighting that helps? Any other tips/tricks?

Are there any other pieces of equipment that you feel are essential to taking product pictures?  Are there any pieces that are good to buy if you can?

Do you have any tips for accurately displaying color and texture of an item?

What is your advice for taking pictures of hard to photograph items?  Two specific items that people mentioned they were having trouble with were an entire book (lots of different bright colors) and bars of soap (all the same).  Are there any particular angles that might help with those items?


Again, thank you all so much for your patience and I hope that this interview compilation can help with some of your photography needs!
« Last Edit: July 07, 2010 01:06:18 PM by jungrrl » THIS ROCKS   Logged

sweets4ever
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2010 12:16:15 PM »

Thanks for putting this together, jungrrl!  Great info!
THIS ROCKS   Logged

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