First, the facts:
Author: Heidi Adnum
Published by: Interweave Press, 2011
1. Getting Started
2. Photo Fundamentals
3. Finishing Up and Getting it Out There
The In-Depth Look:
Setting aside the knitting needles for a moment, let’s think about photographs, shall we?
I know not everyone takes pictures of their knitwear, but lots of people do. Maybe you have a knitting blog, or just like to share your finished objects on Ravelry. Or maybe you sell your knits (and other crafts).
If this is true, you owe it to yourself–and your knits–to take the best pictures you can.
I know that my own photography took enormous strides forward when I started blogging in 2005. I saw so many fantastic photos on other knitting blogs, I made a conscious effort to up my own game. Once you start seeing GOOD photographs of knits, you want your own to be as good as possible.
This book is aimed at all crafters. Anybody who makes anything. Knitting, quilting, woodwork, basket-weaving, embroidery … pretty much everything.
Step-by-step, this book helps you figure out what you need to do to set up the best shots. How to choose the right background. How to get the right lighting. How to adjust your camera settings for this very specific niche of photography. How to tweak things later in Photoshop or other editing software. The nice thing is that the tips for things like lighting involve a lot of cheap methods like making a reflector with cardboard and aluminum foil, rather than recommending you go out and buy hundreds of dollars of professional lighting equipment. Nor does the book look down at those using point-and-shoot cameras instead of DSLRs.
Mind you, there are lots of photography books out there; books that go into much greater depth than this does. But none have quite this focus. Photographing handknits is a very specific niche. Other photography books may cover the same details about light metering and white balance, but they almost never mention how to capture the texture of your stitching. They rarely ever tell you how to model an item so that it looks its best. Most photography books are concerned with the actual photo. They’re not concerned with your desire to capture a lovingly-made item on film.
Once the basics (like lighting, colors, and backgrounds) have been covered, the author zooms in on specific kinds of crafts. If you’re taking pictures of handknits, for example, you’re probably looking for a different aesthetic than someone who makes cutting-edge bookends from steel, or intricate wood carvings. The bulk of the book is taken up with looks at specific types of crafts, with hints, sample photos, and a Q&A with a crafter who specializes in that particular craft.
Here’s one crucial detail, though.
This book’s focus is on not only taking good photos, but more specifically, on taking good photos so you can SELL your crafts. There are tips on how to make the “look” of your online store consistent, how to show the scale of your items, what to do to encourage a buyer to browse through your other items. Most of the crafters I know are interested in making things for the joy of making/sharing them, not so much because they’re trying to sell them, but because they love the knitting. But that doesn’t really matter. The elements that go into a good photograph are the same either way. My eyes started to glaze ever so slightly, though, after reading about “the look of your online store” so many times when I don’t actually have one.
Really, though, this is a useful book. The sample photos scattered throughout are adorable, beautiful, and inspiring. They made me want to visit a LOT of Etsy stores to buy things because the photos were so enticing–which is exactly the point. When I take pictures of my handknits, I might not be trying to sell them, but I am trying to sell the idea of them. The feel, the texture, the softness. I want the person looking at the photo to feel like they can touch them, to see just how delectible and cuddly they are.
To do that, I need great photos. And to get those, this book is just what I need.
This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!