Projects And The Camera

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 08-09-2011 08:56 PM 11137 reads 0 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

What are your “Tips and Tricks” regarding photographing your projects?


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Original Blog Posting

Last week, I asked you how much effort you put into the photos of your projects. To respond, the options were:
1) I just “get ‘er done” … snap, snap, snap
2) I at least clean off the workbench before taking the photo—I try to take a good, clear, uncluttered photo
3) I go all out – I plan the background for the photo, I get the perfect lighting – I want my projects AND photos to look as professional as possible


All options (and any in between answers) are acceptable – it is your project after all. But I started thinking: is there a way to optimize each of those three options?

Get ‘er done
At the one end of the spectrum is the “just get ‘er done” process. Just take a picture. “I’m not a photographer, I’m a woodworker”. Totally understandable. So while you are snapping those pictures, remember:
  • blurry photos aren’t good – so don’t get too close (most cameras won’t focus correctly when they are “up close and personal”) and hold your hand steady when you are pressing the shutter button. If you don’t think you have a steady hand when it comes to cameras, put the camera on a table or piece of equipment to stabilize it.
  • dark photos don’t show off all of your hard work – turn the lights on but not “behind” the project or you will just get a silhouette and that’s for the “I go all out” type of photos.
  • show us your pride and joy – take photos of the corners, the back, the underneath, the hand-cut dovetails. Remember, you can post 6 photos in the project section, so six different angles would be great
I try…
Up from the “get ‘er done” level of level and effort is the “I try to take a good photo.” So what are some things to think about (beyond those listed above)?
  • clutter – a non-cluttered background for your project is the key to this level of photography. If possible, move the project to a location where there will not be shop equipment and wood scraps sneaking into the photograph. Or, if you don’t want to move the creation, hang a cloth behind your work to hide everything and anything that might distract the viewer. For small projects, a light box is another tool to use – blocking off the outside world from all sides and creating the perfect lighting for your photos.
”I go all out”
If you put this much effort into your photographs, you don’t need any tips, but for those “I try” individuals who would like to take their photos to a new level, here are some ideas:
  • set the mood: Fit the environment to the project. Ex. If you have created something for the cottage, photograph the project on the beach.
  • adding without cluttering: (this goes along with the above idea). Are their things that will be used with or alongside your project? Put them in the photo to help tell the story. (Ex. set a knife and a sliced apple on top of a cutting board, or place a handmade pen on top of writing paper)
  • create perspective and focus: use the camera to get up close and personal with some element of your project and let the rest drift off into the distance; show us the wood grain, the edges, the joinery
  • mood with lighting: use the light (and shadows) to enhance the beauty of your project and to highlight it
  • simple is better: remember not to get carried away with the setting and lighting. The focus should be on the project. Everything you do, regarding the photographic process, should enhance your project.

Those are some of my ideas—what other tips (or questions) do you have?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

39 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5659 days

#1 posted 08-09-2011 09:04 PM

ooh an “out of the box” thinker!!! I love it. What a great tip.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4894 days

#2 posted 08-09-2011 09:30 PM

I am a photographer (retired) and have no studio at home.
But I do have my digital darkroom (computer) and I can make some very acceptable photos with my middle of the line digicam and some post production work.
I put all my effort on lighting and composition and no effort at all on background.
With some work on the file I can isolate the subject and make or use any background at all.
I can show my stuff in the Louvre or on Broadway.
I sometimes ‘paint’ a background using CorelDraw Suite.
I often use a plain white digital background and sometimes a black one.
Masking the subject from the background permits me to use the subject as a stand alone image.
If my eye and my camera fail me and the exposure is too dark or light, that can be fixed satisfactorily afterward.

I can even eliminate an unnoticed blemish so I don’t have to reshoot after fixing the problem.
I like to use ambient light because I can judge the highlights and modeling. Using a strobe often results in surprises.

If I had a studio I’d certainly employ light boxes, strobe tents and all the other nice gimmicks that make for superior product photography. But the approach I’m using now is pretty good.

Most of the photos I take of my work are for my clientelle. They seem to like that I take the trouble to take good photos so they can see their things before they get here to pick them up.
As long as I’m on that subject, I find it good to keep file size down so the emails don’t get bogged down or refused by picky email servers.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5659 days

#3 posted 08-09-2011 09:41 PM

good tips re: computer tools.
And I really like the comment: clientelle.

Whether you are a professional woodworker or just a handyman – everything you say and do is your business card, whether it is giving that first impression of your professionalism or just letting the world what kind of person you are.
Showing potential clients “I go all out” photos will have an effect on their opinions of your work.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4807 days

#4 posted 08-10-2011 12:17 AM

Photography is like our woodworking in that we should always try to learn more and improve our skills at it. The more I know about each…the more I realize that I have just began to scratch the surface.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4614 days

#5 posted 08-10-2011 12:24 AM

one of the best thing you can use when taking photo´s of your work
beside using natural light or electric is using a tripod …....... it will make steady picture´s
if its a good stabil tripod ….......... and it will force you to take photo´s alot slower
before moving to another angle …...... gives you time to compose the picture
and to control what you will get in your picture from corner to corner

if you don´t want or have a tripod then at least learn how to take pictures freehand
by reading a book about photo they nearly all show what you can use to make yourself
and the camera more stabil


View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5596 days

#6 posted 08-10-2011 12:28 AM

I’m using my iPhone linked to a flickr pro account. I have a flickr application and can take and upload photos for the web very quickly… I get great results putting photos into blogs and such. It is very easy.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View mikethetermite's profile


602 posts in 4765 days

#7 posted 08-10-2011 02:19 AM

Thanks for all the great tips.

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3672 posts in 5211 days

#8 posted 08-10-2011 03:25 AM


You have certainly put together a great group of tips. Thanks for your helpfulness.


-- Voltaire: “Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities, Can Make You Commit Atrocities” There are 112 genders (not including male and female)

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 5285 days

#9 posted 08-10-2011 03:52 AM

I suppose I fall under option 2. However, I don’t always completely clean off the work bench…....sorry. I use a slightly broken digital camera left over from one of our trips to the UK.
Your tips will help, thanks.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View AkBob's profile


201 posts in 4045 days

#10 posted 08-12-2011 10:12 PM


View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5551 days

#11 posted 08-12-2011 10:26 PM

I, personally, hate to use Flash.

It always seems to wipe-out parts of the subject and shows every little reflection horribly.

I have always had better luck WITHOUT the Flash… and just using lights & reflectors to light-up the subject.
Colors always seem to be better and it just looks more Natural…
I, most of the time, try to use a tripod & when ready to shoot, set & click the Time Delay shutter control and get my hands OFF of the camera to get the clearest picture I can.

Am I doing something wrong?

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5659 days

#12 posted 08-12-2011 11:00 PM

the “no hands” process is a great strategy!
Let the camera do it’s thing.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 5264 days

#13 posted 08-12-2011 11:05 PM

My advise….. shoot, shoot and shoot some more. It’s not like you’re paying for each frame (like the good old days with film).

Like AkBob said, focus and lighting are the key things. You have to choose the background (if you want one).

The thing is…... not everyone can be a master photographer, just like, not everyone can be a master woodworker. But it doesn’t mean you can’t try. Most professional photographers have very good equipment and very good photo-editing software (I know I couldn’t do without PhotoShop).

There are lots of shooters on the site that will be glad to help with any problems or questions anyone has.

Good luck… and keep shooting.

- JJ

View AkBob's profile


201 posts in 4045 days

#14 posted 08-12-2011 11:11 PM

My apologies to all. I realized after rereading my last post that it may have come off as a bit snotty.

Hugs and Kisses,

AKBob :)

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5551 days

#15 posted 08-12-2011 11:13 PM

Photography was my hobby way back… 62 years ago…

I always try to compose the full frame the way I want it.

When it comes to using Flash, the ONLY times I will use it, is when it’s very dark/dim/low light and I’m probably NOT shooting woodworking stuff… Flash has it’s place… but NOT for my normal pictures… My first option is NO Flash.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

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