Top Tips for Fibre Art Photography
Subject, Background and Props
The main subject of your photo is, of course, your design. But there are some other main elements that are a good idea to include in your photo. In order to show off a garment or accessory, it’s ideal to show the item on a model. Don’t be shy about modeling your own designs, or conscripting a friend or family member. It’s so much more appealing to see the item on a human being than laid out flat on the floor.
Try to also include a photo of the model sitting down, so that those who are in wheelchairs can get an idea of what the garment will look like on them.
If you are unable to arrange for a model, the next best thing would be a mannequin.
If the design is a home decor item, it’s a good idea to show it in the setting in which it will be used. For instance, a bedspread on a bed, a container filled with items and placed in a room, or the item being put to use in some way. A human or pet in the photo can be a plus, as long as it doesn’t take the focus away from your design. This is definitely one of those situations where less is more.
I know you’ve probably heard it tons of times, but that’s because it really is true: natural lighting is best able to highlight the colors, textures, and details of your design. But that doesn’t mean you should hold your photo shoot on the brightest, sunniest day. If the light is too bright, it tends to create washed out colours and harsh shadows. This has a tendency to obscure the details in your design, such as lace, cables, or other textures, as well as any speckles or more subtle colour changes in your yarn. Thus a slightly overcast day, and/or taking your photos in the early morning or late afternoon ends up being much more ideal.
If indoor lighting is your only option, you want to make sure there’s plenty of light, but not too much bright, direct light, just as with the sunlight warning above. Think about how professionals light their subjects: lots of lights, usually from multiple angles, and through diffusers. Try to take some practice pics with different lighting to see what best features your design elements and gets closest to the true colours. And don’t forget that moving the camera around to approach the subject from different angles can sometimes have an impressive effect on lighting and colours.
Focus, Format and Layout
As I said before, your design is the main focus, so at least one photo should include the entire project. Sometimes that’s more difficult for a large item such a shawl. Try holding one end high and the other low so that it fills the frame diagonally.
Browse some of the pictures on Ravelry and see which ones seem aesthetically pleasing to you. But also keep in mind that you can play around with the point of focus. Especially with a larger item, try focusing on a point that is off center, leaving part of the item or the background out of focus. On a smaller item, it can add interest to focus sharply on the item and allow the background to blur.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s a good idea to check that your lens is clean. If you’re taking your photos with your phone, it’s very common to get fingerprints or smudges on your camera lens that you may not notice right away. You might also consider investing in a small tripod to hold your camera steady during your shoot.
With regards to the formatting and framing of pictures, it’s helpful to have a variety of shots available. Try to include at least one shot that is a portrait ratio, one that is landscape, and one that is square (or nearly so). This gives the magazine more options for page layouts, and more versatility when promoting your design on social media.
- Instagram photos are square (1080 x 1080 pixels).
- Facebook can handle any ratio, but is geared for a photo that is slightly wider than tall (940 x 788 pixels).
- Pinterest prefers a very tall ratio (735 x 1102 pixels), but you can create a pin with a square photo or a landscape within that ratio.
It’s also a good idea to include at least one or two shots that have a fair amount of background space or negative space around the design, leaving room for a text overlay or allowing creative framing or cropping.
There are several techniques that can add interest to a photo, draw the eye to specific elements, or highlight a detail. Try taking a photo from an extremely oblique angle. Use the macro setting and take an extreme close-up. Use the rule of thirds.
Try using the grid lines on your phone or camera. Babs has a video on how to add the grid on iPhone and iPad. Use leading lines to draw the viewer’s eye to a specific point in the photo. Look for opportunities to highlight symmetry or repetitive patterns.
Don’t be afraid to edit the photos, but don’t go overboard. You can crop out items on the edges that don’t belong in the frame, but don’t crop all of your photos too closely to the main subject. You can adjust light, contrast, balance, etc, and even sometimes use filters, but don’t go with the extreme ones. If the magazine wants a certain look, it’s best to let them make those changes themselves.
The best thing you can do to become a better photographer is to take LOTS of pictures.
Learn what you like and don’t like, and learn a bit about composition and techniques; there are SO many helpful tips online. And when you’re ready to send those photos to a magazine, make sure to include lots of options: a variety of distance and close-up shots, different ratios and amount of negative space, different poses and angles for garments and accessories, different settings for home decor items. You should send at least a half dozen high-quality photos, and more is definitely better! Even if not all of the photos you send end up being used in the layout, some may be used in social media promos, and providing the magazine with more options allows them to find the best look for that issue.
Babs & Karen