Amanda Answers! – A Guest Post About Photography

When I featured my sister’s photos in my blog post about the V8548 Tilly and the Buttons suggested that Amanda might want to write a guest post around the topic of photographing our makes. I thought this was an excellent idea and invited Amanda to contribute. She agreed! 

Here are Mandy’s thoughts on how we might compose our photos. To illustrate her comments, she’s photographed a lens bag I made her for Christmas. (I know. It’s gorgeous. I know. I soooo want to make another for myself.)

We hope the following helps you all, or supplies even a smidgen of inspiration!

Taking good quality pictures of material can be tricky.  The battle to eliminate harsh shadows can seem endless, and achieving accurate colours can be a real problem. However, there are some simple techniques that everyone can use to obtain excellent results with minimal effort.

Essential tips – four steps for shooting your final products.


A simple point and shoot works well and even iphones produce great images nowadays.  Later you might want to explore using a DSLR like the entry level Canons or Nikons.

A gorilla pod is a brilliant table top tripod or you could try leaning on the back of a chair to ensure your images are clean and sharp.

Set up and compose

Try out different locations; choose one with lots of bright light and clear backgrounds.  Clutter will distract from your work and colourful backgrounds will compete with your material.  Neutral table linen works well or use some cheap cut offs in natural colours to act as backgrounds.  Art shops often sell end-of-the-line fine art card that work well as backdrops and can further complement your product shot.

Lock the exposure

Point your camera at the most important part of the image, press the shutter half way down and recompose to keep the all important part of the images in the frame.  This will lock your exposure on a point and shoot or iphone.  If you are using a DSLR, to shoot everything in sharp focus, set f8 – f11 to maximise the depth of field on the ‘A’ or ‘Av’ mode.  Don’t forget to check the ISO is between 100 or 200 to reduce the complication of noise in your image.

Fine tune the composition and make sure you include the most important part of your item in the foreground of your image.  Either press the shutter down calmly, as though you are pressing blue tack into a wall, or explore using the timer if your camera is mounted on a tripod.  This will make sure your image is clear and sharp.

Presenting your final image

Take a selection of images that include: a wide overview of the completed product, a closer shot with 2 or 3 items that include patterns, material and thread to help explain how you made the produce and, finally, a detailed shot of the stitching and button holes.  Just these 3 images will help tell the story of how you made the item and will encourage the viewers relate to your process.

When you upload the photographs on your computer, explore using editing programmes like the free software from Google Picasa.  The best settings are ones that boost your exposure to give clean images (brightness) or correct the colours to give true renditions of the colours (white balance).  For web viewing, resize the images to 800 pixels on the long edge to ensure quick viewing on web browsers.

If you have anything you need explaining in more detail, then please leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to help.

See you next time!


Amanda Herbert Photography

You can find Amanda on Twitter at @imageobjectif or on Facebook here.

Thank you so much, lovely sister! And thank you, Tilly, for your suggestion. Any other hints and tips that readers have?

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12 Responses to Amanda Answers! – A Guest Post About Photography

  1. Kat says:

    What a great idea for a post! I struggle with getting good quality images of my makes so this has given me a lot to think about! I wonder if Amanda has any further tips on how to get a well lit shot? I have a lot of trouble even in natural light (not that there is too much of that to be had at this time of year!).

    • I confess I had a tough time getting the light right for these images, I’m happy to share any more tips with Karen’s ‘say so’ – she is my big sister after all! A quick and dirty workflow might be: putting the camera on auto ISO and then checking if you are happy with the image quality or using a table lamp as an additional light source, but there is a real danger of changing the colours with this approach …. hence the popularity of light tents for product shots on ebay! I feel another blog post coming on, thanks Mandy

      • Go for it, Mandy! You share as many tips as you like! One of the big challenges for Sewists is getting photos of themselves wearing items they’ve made – either with a self timer or the help of a loved one.

  2. ooobop! says:

    Thank you Amanda, and Karen. Great tips from a fab photographer 🙂

  3. CGCouture says:

    Thanks for the tips! My photography couldn’t be worse if a baby accidentally smacked the button, so I’ll try to practice working some of these things in. Now if only I had a slightly nicer camera….

  4. Montana says:

    Ooh, thank-you so much! I have a wonderful camera, but feel like I’m lacking the knowlege behind the lense to compose good photos for my blog. I will have to incorporate these tips in. Thank-you so much for the help! You’re photos are gorgeous.

  5. Thanks! I’ve been trying to improve my photography lately so that was really timely.

  6. Marie says:

    Fantastic idea for a post and so helpful! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Tilly says:

    Oh wow, you did it – thanks Mandy, and thanks Karen! This is a great read. As Karen suggested, it would be great to get some tips on posing in front of a camera in your finished garment (yikes!) as I reeeeeally hate doing that bit. Might be a job for another blogger, maybe a fashion blogger…x

  8. grenouille78 says:

    Thanks for the tips! I just recently discovered all the settings I could change on my camera. I have no idea what I’m doing so I just keep clicking things and taking shots. But then I don’t remember what I did to make the good ones turn out! I need to write myself notes to go along with this.

  9. Sensible Sewer says:

    Thanks, Amanda and Karen. I’ve Googled this subject before and only found one pertinent article.

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