Article · How To · Tutorial

How to: Up your Photo Game on Instagram – for Crafters!

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Photo editing has come a long way, hasn’t it? I’ve got vivid memories of my Dad knobbing about with some program called Paint Shop Pro as a kid and enjoying all the CDs bundled with crap software when we bought a new printer (which was like, every month). My other half is a huge MS Paint fan, and proudly created all his old band’s graphics on it in his musician days. I try and forget the fact that all the type was in ARIAL (my graphic designer soul just cried) and it was red text on black, but hey, it looked good for 2004. I even get threatened by him ‘doing all the graphic design on Paint’ when I take a bit too long to create something for our company on Illustrator… It’s not my fault I’m constantly distracted by knitting.

Now we have miniature versions of Photoshop built into our smartphones, with the average phone able to correct, crop and add that special sheen to even the darkest of images (eat that, Paint Shop Pro!) so, all in all, it’s almost impossible to take a bobbins photo. Sort of. Unless your phone is a Motorola Razr. Remember them? Mine was pink!

That said, it’s always nice to know a few tips on how to make sure your photos look as good as they can on your feed, and that don’t include spending your life savings on a top-of-the-range smartphone or camera. I’m by no means a master photographer, but here are a few ideas that will make your images shine a bit brighter.

THEME UP!

Sticking with a coherent theme with regards to style and colour will hold your feed together. Working with an organised feed will make your ‘brand’ (I hate that word but you know) really look polished and professional, whether you want people to buy your lush hand-dyed yarn, bonnets, or just scroll and see what you’re about. If you’re trying to focus your account on solely your crafting, try not to intersperse your images with baby photos, you relaxing in Crete with hot dog legs or shots of how messy your kitchen is. If you’re seriously into building an identity, consider opening a personal account for those photos to keep your crafting feed free of cluttered, off-topic images. Try using a similar background, filter or style on all your photos to expand that theme further.

LIGHT & SIMPLICITY.

Depending on the look your going for, a plain background, a decent camera (smartphone or otherwise) and a lot of light is all you need. Try and keep your photo area free of mess, cat hair and pieces of cereal (unless that’s your aesthetic in which case, go you) and stake out the sunniest area of your home to be your go-to photo-taking zone. I use a south-facing glassed in balcony (yes, it is hot in summer) to take my photos because the light there is blinding (in both senses of the word) even on cloudy days. I lay my background down on the floor, arrange my object and off I go. My studio is also very bright, so it’s great for impromptu shots. Speaking of unwanted bits of mess in your photos, I recently took a photo that looked incredible – I was convinced I was the daughter of David Bailey for a good moment – I uploaded it and waited for the hoardes of people to gasp at my talent and offer me contracts, until I noticed that there was whacking great black HAIR and a random bead in the background. Fail. FYI, for my coloured backgrounds I use plain A2-sized paper from my local craft shop. Cheap and effective.

PROP YOURSELF UP

Props can add character to your shots. Lets face it, Instagram is chock full of beigeness, marbled or wooden backgrounds and… White. They look lovely, and it’s important for your image to have little to no distractions from the object you want to show off, but adding a well-placed object that matches your theme can make your viewers really see the personality behind your work. I know plonking a cactus next to a crocheted thing is very trite, but it looks great, and if you really love plants (hi) it can add something special. Do you design kids items? Try and get a child you know to pop their cute feet in frame (obviously you’ll have to bribe them) to personalise it. Or how about a vintage children’s book or toy? Do you make home decor? Well, use your entire home to show off that lovely blanket… You get the idea!

SEE ME WITH THEM HANDS

Did you know that #handsinframe is huge? This hashtag is an awesome way of showing your talented mitts actually ‘making’ and working on that special something. No matter if you’re knitting, crocheting, Fimo clay sculpting or simply writing a note on a packing slip, this type of image is another way to make your photos rise above the rest. Some people photo their hands by stuffing their phone between their knockers, others balance them on shelves above their heads (careful, bruv), but if you plan on doing this on the regular, invest in a useful phone-holding contraption. These odd-looking holders securely clamp onto surfaces and hold your phone tightly, leaving you free to shoot your hands, beautiful face, or your face and head covered with yarn like I did once, weirdly.

GET INSPIRED BUT BE YOU

Look around other people’s feeds to see what they’re up to. This doesn’t mean copying (please, don’t copy other people, it’s shitty behaviour), but getting inspired – there’s a big difference. Along with flicking through design magazines, doing this keeps you up to date with trends, what’s happening in your creative community, and gives you ideas on how to adapt these hot looks to your own style. It takes a while to develop your own aesthetic and really make it pop, but once you discover it, stick to it and watch it grow – you’ll really feel great!

Do you have any tips on how to take incredible-looking photos? Let me know!

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