As many of you may have discovered getting great pictures is not always easy, especially if you are not familiar with photography. Sometimes the lighting is bad, sometimes the colours don't pop, the picture may be fuzzy, and I am sure we could probably list countless reasons a photo may turn out wrong.
The best solution is to hire a professional photographer. They will get you perfect photos every time! However, it is not always possible to get one, whether the reasons be financial, or other. So, what's a struggling artist supposed to do?
1) Learn to use the camera you have. It may not be the most perfect one out there, but with technology like it is today, you will certainly be able to capture your pieces nicely.
2) Use natural light wherever possible. Morning sun and evening sun will give you the best photos, but you can still get good photos with noon sun too. For best results, you'll want to have the sun face the item you wish to photograph.
3) Use a lightbox. A lightbox is basically a box were the sides allow for light to pass through, which produces really great looking shots! I don't have any extra lighting or even a proper lightbox, but what I do have is ingenuity and a little bit of creativity. So, a lightbox for me is basically a bed skirt that I drape over my work station to allow the light to come in nicely.
Remember how above I mentioned to use natural light whenever possible? Sometimes direct light can be too strong, so what you want to do is tame the light. I have figured out a way to do this by making a sort of large make-shift lightbox. I am going to share that with you here...
Basically What You'll Need is:
- A surface to place your objects on and a backdrop - The two most common I use are a table with a light sheet place over it and hung up to create a backing (pictured in this post), and the other is two, large, narrow-depth, white Costco-type boxes propped together with one serving as the backdrop and the other severing as the base/surface.
- A bed skirt with a white section, or a light, thin sheet - You need a sheet that is light enough to let the sun pass through it. You may only need one, but sometimes, I will end up using a second to shield me from the sun because the sun will still burn you even if you think you are in the shade. These will create the lightbox effect of taming the sun's light, which will help make your photos look better.
- A place outdoors to set up your station - You want your space to have great access to sunlight and you'll also need your space to have a way of hanging /draping your backdrop, and/or the lightbox sheet(s). In my backyard, I have several lines of rope that we use for hanging laundry out to dry and the edge of the roof as a ledge that allows for hanger to be placed on them. Both work great for accomplishing what I need.
- A nice, sunny day - The whole purpose of this outdoor lightbox work station is to use the natural light from the sun to capture great pictures, if you have a cloudy or rainy day, it will not have the same effect.
- Your camera and the objects you wish to photograph.
The Set Up:
When I use the table surface option, I will grab a chair to sit on, but when I do the box option, I will sit on top of a towel placed on the floor. The only time I will stand to take pictures, is when I am taking a picture of a model wearing an object, or if the object is too big. In those cases, I only use a backdrop with the lightbox covering.
Start by setting up the surface and backdrop first. Then, use your bed skirt / sheets to create the lightbox on top of it. Make any adjustments necessary to ensure the sun is only peeking through the sheet and not from any of the open sides.
All that remains is for you to take your pictures, or sometimes in my case - videos.
It is not the most perfect solution ever, but it works amazingly well for what I need. Plus, it gets me out into the great outdoors!
One more tip: Since you'll be outside, make sure you have some water nearby and that you keep hydrated. Just because you are not in the direct sun, doesn't mean you shouldn't take the same precautions you would on any other day in the sun.
What are some tips or solutions you have come up with for taking great photos? Share them with me below...