Monday, August 26, 2013

How to photograph and edit your craft projects

How to edit photos of projects- Jen Chesnick

Hello Hello!  As promised I have finally gotten around to writing up a post on how I take my project photos and edit them.  My style has evolved over the years.  Usually when I change to a new room in the house how I photograph my projects changes with it.  I am lazy, I don't want to take my projects out of my room.  I used to shoot in the dinning room which has great light.  However my setup down there has changed and my scraproom isn't in close proximity so there you go.  

So currently I am in a tiny little room in the house with mostly afternoon/evening light.  Which is GREAT however I only have one window and it casts a lot of shadow if the light isn't just right.  So I purchased a lighting setup from Amazon (this one) I didn't purchase with the intent to use it for my projects mind you.  I wanted for photography purposes mainly in the winter when light isn't that great.  

How to edit photos of projects- Jen Chesnick-c

So here I have a white board that you can pick up at your local craft store.  The science fair kind (tri-fold) I purchased a backdrop on Etsy made by Swanky Prints.  Also if you are a new customer they have a coupon code on their main page.  I used to shoot them just on the white backdrop but I really like seeing an edge around my projects.  Plus a lot of my layouts have items that hang off the edge and they tend to get trimmed off when you crop them down.  When we get to the editing part you can adapt it to a close crop too.

How to edit photos of projects- Jen Chesnick-b

I have one light setup on the right side of my project. You can see in the two photos below with and without the light. 

How to edit photos of projects- Jen Chesnick-d

with the light 

How to edit photos of projects- Jen Chesnick-e

without the light.  See the difference on the right?  So anyway you set things up be mindful of where the light is and how it looks.  You can only photoshop so much before your project is just over worked. Now onto editing.  Click on the photos to enlarge. 


To start I used the photo posted above (with the light) I took a straight on shot.  Try to get eye level with your project.  I edit in PSE it's simple and I don't need any actions or anything that I would use in photoshop.  I first run the PSE Auto-Smart fix.  If you have your settings pretty accurate on your camera this is usually a nice boost and doesn't over do anything. You can also adjust the smart fix if you like.


step 2 - I crop down leaving a bit of space around for editing and a gap at the bottom for my label strip. 


step 3 - this is where a good bit of editing comes into play.  Go to the transform section of PSE.  There are 4 options, Free transform, Skew, Distort and Perspective.  The only one I don't use is distort.  The other 3 all the time!


Free Transform is what I use to straighten my projects.  So if you are a little out of line.  Boom. 


Perspective is just that.  If your layout has a lean to it or seems to bow you can fix that!  It takes some practice. 

Lastly is Skew. It is hard to screenshot because you can't really tell what it is doing unless you are doing it.  I use this one a lot.  Basically you can pull corners and straighten things up a little bit here and there.  It's great!  Again just practice, practice!  


So I used skew and perspective on my photo above.  My next step is Levels.  I love levels.  You can really brighten up your project and midtones and such with levels. 


Use the slider to adjust your levels.  I use the slider on the right to adjust highlights and the middle to adjust mid-tones (I think) 


See the difference?  Once I am done editing I do a quick crop if needed then I add my label strip.  I finish up by flattening my image and saving as a JPG.


and there you have it.  So let's take a look at what we started with. 

How to edit photos of projects- Jen Chesnick-d


How to edit photos of projects- Jen Chesnick

I am no professional, but I hope this gives you some ideas on how you take your own project photos.  Thanks for stopping by!



  1. Great post, Jen! Thanks for sharing! Your editing isn't any simpler than mine ;) But I do like your photo setup! I should probably invest in something similar. I can't rely on the sun and nice weather here in Sweden. Especially not with fall and winter coming...

  2. Thanks so much for this, Jen! Your set up is similar to mine but there are some things I need to try in PSE.

  3. Love it!! Thanks so much for this tutorial Jen!!! I want to take pics for my Etsy store and nothing was working!!!! LOVE IT!!!! You are the Best!!!

  4. Wonderful advise! Thanks for the pointers! You do an amazing job photoing your work! :)

  5. I've learned so much...great tips, Jen! Thank you! (and of course, the layout is PRECIOUS!)

  6. Your layout is just adorable! Love the photo tips too.

  7. This is great! Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

  8. I think I am the only one who doesn't want to learn PSE ( am lazy)...I like all the other tips though! Am gonna be making my own DIY thing next month and give it a shot :) ps-the layout is adorable as always!

  9. Great post.. This is more or less what I do with my projects as well! I just don't have the light and board setup though :)

  10. Dayumn. This is how I do it with my cards basically but was doing it completely different with my layouts... thanks for showing me how dumb I was being by making it harder on myself! You rock!

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this easy step by step!! You rock!

  12. Thanks for the tips! I have such a hard time taking photos of layouts!

  13. These tips are awesome! Thank you!

  14. Such an amazing share. Thank you Emily ")

  15. I was just searching on Google for tips like this and your blog link popped up. I really need to order the lighting equipment. Thanks for sharing!

  16. This is great! Thank you so much!

  17. Very helpful tips! Thanks for sharing.

  18. very easy to follow and what a difference - thanks!