The Secrets Behind My Photographs
Incase you didn't catch last weeks blog, I posted a short checklist for readers to be able to tick the boxes to tell me what they want to read about. (It can still be filled in if you fancy!) I popped the results into a little bar chart (I love organisation) and the blue bar for 'behind the scenes' was way up there. I began thinking about what I could share with you from this hectic knitting whirlwind that is my business (and life). I then realise that I post on social media so often I share basically everything with you already! So I will have to delve even deeper into the totally shambolic state of affairs that don't generally get treated to a photo and a filter; I'm guessing you're after the real 'knitty gritty' stuff eh? (Hehehehe! I also love a pun!)
I've been getting some lovely compliments on my photography lately so I figured that's where I'd start! Showing you what's in front of and more importantly, what's behind the lens. (There's no hiding now!) Another reason I thought I would share this with you is because I know it's easy to get wrapped up in other people 'fabulous' lives. A few weeks ago when I did my 7 Do's & Don'ts of Social Media post, one point that seemed to resonate was, 'don't focus too much on what other people are doing'. This point discussed the beautiful images you see on other people's timelines and feeds, that aren't necessarily a truthful depiction of what's really going on; which i'm sure you know already but sometimes we all need reminding of this, as it's so easy to get sucked in! Social media shows us everyones best side and I think it's really important to our own self worth to remember that it's not always as it seems!
Here are some examples of my photograph secrets that (hopefully) you wouldn't necessarily consider when looking at the finished image.
- Don't look behind you!
In April I did a lampshade giveaway and took this photo as the main image for it...
I was very pleased with this picture, the colours and textures were exactly what I'd wanted. I thought it showed off the products reasonably well and was generally bright and cheerful.
Unfortunately on the other side of this scene is my spare bedroom, also known in our house as the stock room. The double bed is now used far more to house piles of throws than for any guests visiting... Although I am always pleased when we do have sleep over visitors as it gives me a good reason to tidy the place up! (until they leave then all the wool comes out again). In front of the lens may have been a cheerful vision but behind it was a scene more disheveled than Russell Brand....
Incase you're wondering why the rooms such a funny shape I should point out its a panoramic image, so yes, there is in fact even less room to move that it would seem. It was less than enjoyable actually taking the image. Balancing the tripod on a box, pushing the armchair as far away as possible, hopping around trying not to tread on wool or sit on a lampshade.
I could have tidied up and moved things out of the way but the trouble is, you never know what you might need. If I pack away all the spare balls of wool I would clearly feel the need to add the red one that would then be at the bottom of the bag and in another room. The chair can't be taken out of the room unless the legs are taken off and that's a nightmare of it's own so for the sake of 30 minutes and one picture you can bet that's staying! The rest of it I have no excuse for. Its one of the only times I am completely untidy and probably one of the only times I should be tidier.
I would also like to point out that all of the items stuffed into this room are my samples stock items! I am much kinder to orders and they don't get used and abused this way!
- Practice makes perfect
As with all things, the more you take photos the better you will become. When preparing to take a photo I consider what needs to go in it, colours, props, background etc. With each snap of the lens I take a look and decide what needs to change to improve the shot. The picture below is one I posted on Instagram in June when I was knitting the teapot cosy for the National Theatre, its just a small amount of the wool that was actually used but I wanted to show the cosiness of the super soft Merino wool I have the pleasure of using.
For the sake of this one picture, here's what actually happened (and some of the really bad ones were deleted instantly!) ...there were at least 40 pictures taken, some with just a fraction of a change and others with a whole angle shift. They were taken on my kitchen floor of all places because I liked the light in there at the time. I spend somewhere near an hour in total and in total lugged about 30 kg of wool up and down the loft ladder.
Of course when they are published onto any social media platform it's with an aloof caption as though I just decided to take a quick snapshot of whatever happened to be in front on me at the time, which in this case was a bump of wool and some tulips on my kitchen floor. Smooth.
- Endless sources of inspiration
Even the most creative people need to get inspiration from somewhere. I love browsing Instagram and Pinterest and looking at the different ways people take photographs. One thing I am always looking at is the composition of images. I really enjoy seeing how other people place items in the frame. My natural instinct is to get the subject in the centre so i've been pushing myself more and more lately to move it around. I keep a folder on my iPad with 'Ideas' the actual ideas are more in my head 'could do that with wool'...that kind of thing; but the folder is where I store inspirational shots. I screenshot basically anything I like so that I can see who's picture it is and remember why I like it.
Of course it's very important to remember that these are purely for inspiration and not just copying. Other peoples beautiful images are theirs and not only would it be wrong to copy (obviously), it would be ridiculously unoriginal and not at all fun. Our images are special because they are a snapshot of what we see, they are also a representation of how we see things, so it's important to be true to yourself. I love to take inspiration from other peoples images that I enjoy and show my woolly world from a similar angle.
In the below image - The first screenshot is beautiful and reminds me that a bed is a great background for a cosy shot, the flowers in the top right hand corner are there to show how effective a darker background is. There is a collage that has similar colours/themes but different images. Theres a landscape that is 90% sky. Theres writing inside a picture that could say anything. I love something about all these images and I want to remember what it is so I can consider that aspect when I take photos.
So when it came to taking a picture of my Wimbledon Cake for a previous article I put some of these ideas into practice and used a darker background, placing the main subject in the corner of the image. Like I said, it doesn't always come naturally to me but with a few different inspirations I took a picture I was pleased with. And then I ate the cake.
- Its all about the filter
For proper product shots of my images to go on the 'shop' page of my website, I only use my camera and photoshop to enhance it as much as necessary, so that the colours are as accurate as possible and the detail is shown correctly. For lifestyle shots I mainly use my iPad, I love how quick it can be (once you get the composition right!) 'snap, filter, upload' it's speedy alright. No memory card removal or downloading files just quick and easy which is really important when you upload a picture almost everyday, you don't need to be spending hours doing it on a daily basis!
I find filters really vital for setting the mood of a shot. I think its great when an instagram feed all has the same vibe, it makes their brand identity really clear, for instance Katrina from Qtitue does this really well, all her images suit each other and you really get a feel for her brand and lifestyle. I tend to go through phases and switch up my filters depending on the products; this works for me because all my products as quite different, especially with regards to colour. A bold mustard yellow throw has a different feel to a classic white one.
I try not to change the colours too much as it's important to show them as accuratly as possible incase someone wants to order a product based on the image; I don't want it to come as a shock when it arrives and its 5 shades lighter!
I like to try different filters to see how they effect the feel of an image. I could spend hours going through different ones and altering the contrast by a fraction here or there. When I take a picture it generally does just look like 'a footstool on the floor' but once you add some warmth and contrast it feels cosy and 'fireside'.
Below are just a few different ones I tried (including the original and the one I ended up using... it's like spot the difference! Can you guess which ones they are?!) Sometimes the best one just jumps out at you and other times it takes more playing and saving and comparing.
I use filters to enhance the important aspects of an image not to try and change anything, that's why I think they work for me; it's still 100% my picture, it's just shown in its best light... and with the mess cropped out!
I will be doing an article later on with some more specific tips on taking photos and using filters but for now I wanted to give you a 'behind the scenes' look at what goes on in my cameras world. I hope you can take solace in the fact that no; you aren't the only one who has to take a picture 30-100 times before you are happy with one shot. And no; you aren't the only one who agonises over the tiniest difference in contrast and brightening. Oh and no; you aren't the only one who's spare room is a state!
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Happy Wednesday! :D