Today I Learned: Card Photography Made Easy

You just completed your signature masterpiece—the perfect card—and you are now ready to take and share a photograph of your creation. But, where do you start? This week on the TE Blog, we've been sharing tips from our Creative Team on how to take fabulous photos of card projects with advice on equipment, lighting, editing, and more. Today, designer Keia Shipp-Smith shares how to take your card photography a step further with a terrific tutorial on how to photograph projects so they look like they belong between the pages of a magazine. Check it out!

Keia created this lovely card using the following supplies:

Paper: TE Premium Matched Cardstock in Cookie Monster, Salt Water Taffy, Peapod, Blue Corn, Sugar Cube, Vellum
Stamp: Wonderful World , Fresh Florals
Dies: Fresh Florals , Stitched Rectangle Stacklets , Whole Wide World
Inks: TE Matched Ink in Pink Champagne, Lollipop, Peapod, Potato Chip, Strawberry Milkshake, Cupcake, Oreo
Embossing Folder: Rosy Posey
Accessories: TE Enamel Shapes in Cherry Pop, Lemon Meringue, Strawberry Milkshake, Lollipop), White Gel Pen

Notes from Keia: I use a photo cube that I purchased online. These easy-to-use kits include the collapsible photo cube, two lights and three backgrounds (white, red and black). I purchased an additional light, which is positioned in the back. While natural lighting is best, it is not necessarily an option I can always utilize. I have younger children and work, which means I do most of my photographing in the evening without natural lighting. The photo cube allows me to manipulate light and the effects of shadowing on my projects. I chose to purchase a large cube for greater flexibility. I can photograph cards as well as larger sized projects.

Play around with staging. What might look visually appealing doesn’t necessarily translate well in the finished photograph. Try experimenting with various heights, colors, and textures to find what works best for you. Look around your home and garden. A pretty plate, a colorful vase, a child's toy, some vintage buttons, anything that is not visually overwhelming -- pick out a few things and keep in mind that sometimes, less is more. As you can see, I pulled several items I had on hand before finally settling on just a few artificial flowers.

I have several vinyl 2’ x 2’ backdrops that I purchased online. These backgrounds are easy to hang and clean and offer a level of texture and color to my work.

Use the camera equipment that you are most comfortable with. This could be a smart phone, a point-and-shoot, or a fancy digital handheld. Become familiar with what it can and cannot do. Whichever you use, it's rare that you'll end up with a perfect shot that doesn't need touching up. Take your shots, choose your favorite, and then it's time to edit! Above is the unedited photograph of my card. As you can see, it is on the dark side and could use some brightening up.

I use a free online, open-source, photo editing software program. I use GIMP, but there are many out there and you should use what you like best. I will share with you some of my most used features from this program.

I use the Adjusting Color Curves feature to lighten the layers within the photography, specifically each pixel’s RGB (red, green, blue) values.

Very often, even though the card looks straight in my viewfinder, I am surprised to find my picture is slightly askew. The Rotate feature is very handy by allowing me to rotate a picture along the X and Y axis.

If you choose to watermark your photos, there are several steps to this process: opening layers, adjusting the size of the layer using the Scale feature, and then merging the layer onto the photograph. With the Scale feature, it is important to note the need to lock the link. This allows the resized layer to be proportionally adjusted on both the X and Y axis.

Voila! The finished photograph! Are you ready to take photos of your creativity and start sharing it with the world? When you do, visit us on Facebook and let us see what you've created!

Keia's equipment:

Camera: Canon T3i

Lens: Canon 85 mm

Flash: Canon Speedlite 430EXii

Setting: Creative Mode, Vivid, Blurred Background (bokeh effect)

Lighting: Photo Cube and lamps using Ott-lite natural light bulbs

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Ankeny, IA 50021