Three Steps to Better Project Pictures!

So…

over the past 10 years we’ve received LOTS of handbag photos from our customers and we LOVE looking at each and every one of them… many of which are ultimately entered in our monthly “Handbag of the Month” contest. But you know what? Even though almost all of the bags pictured in the photos we receive are beautiful… some of them were not photographed particularly well. A few years ago we devoted a post to make a well-composed photo of a small project. You can read it HERE, but in the meantime we continue to receive pictures of beautiful bags photographed badly.  🙂

With that in mind, here’s a list of the most common photo mistakes we see. The first two can be avoided by just taking the time to stage your photo better, while the last can be helped with a little help from PhotoShop.

1- A Poor Choice of Background– choosing a busy and/or distracting background is a very common error. My advice? Take a moment to look at your subject objectively against the background you’ve chosen. Your background should NOT compete with your project and there should be a clear separation between your entire project and your background. You might be surprised at how bags we’ve seen placed against a dark floral couch. It’s almost never a good combination!

poll405This Baggalista really pops against grainy neutral background! Great choice! poll518This background behind this SideKick competes for attention and is very distracting. See the difference?

2- Poor Composition– your project should fill the picture and there should be no other items visible that would divert attention away from your subject. The solution? Simple… Either remove all extraneous objects out of range of your camera or move your subject to a different location.

created by Betty Gove of Moneta, VA
created by Betty Gove of Moneta, VA

This Carolina CarryAll is beautifully composed in this picture . The flowers delicately frame this bag and the variegated greens are lovely against this pink bag.

poll184And if you’re thinking this is laundry in the background then I think you’d be right. See how the auxiliary items in this photo compete with this Harmony Handbag for attention?Now try to picture this pretty bag against the green background in the photo at right…see what I mean?

3- Exposure Errors– We’ve all shot dark underexposed photos at one time or another. Whether its because of the lighting, weather conditions, window placements or a malfunctioning flash, such photos are unfortunately common. Luckily, Photoshop provides you with amazing abilities when correcting photos like these. So don’t throw those dark underexposed images away! Let me show you a quick and easy way for you to “save” them from the recycle bin!

photoshop1the original image photoshop2the corrected image

The photo above at left is the original image I’ll be using for our example. It was taken late in the evening and the auto exposure on the digital camera was obviously “thrown off” be a low sun set over my left shoulder, but because I loved the look on my sweet grandbaby’s face I wanted to do what I could to save this picture. Is the result perfect? No… it’s still a little grainy, but it’s at least restored to a usable state, which makes me happy.

And here’s how I did it…

The program I’ll be using in this example is Adobe Photoshop (the free student version), but you know what? Most any photo-editing software will provide you with the two basic tools you need to accomplish this fix.

photoshop1.1

Our objective here, is to lighten the photo AND increase the contrast. First, let’s brighten it by clicking first on “Image”… then “Adjust”… then “Brightness/Contrast”… then

photoshop2.1

You can use either the slider to increase (or decrease) the brightness, or you can type a number into the box. How much is up to you. I usually try several values and see which I like best, “35” seemed good to me.

photoshop3.1

Next, adjust the contrast which as you can see is located right below the brightness. Once you’ve adjusted the contrast you might want to go back and try increasing and decreasing the brightness to see what effect you like best. Do this as many times as required in order to achieve the balance you like the best, then “File/Save your new look.

So what do you think?

Pretty easy, right? I guarantee that if you pay attention to these three areas… background, composition and exposure, you’ll see a big improvement in your digital photography! So… feel free to leave any questions or comments in the space provided below and we’ll do our level best to answer them!

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3 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Thanks for the tips! Isn’t it marvelous how much we can do with digital cameras? I love how we can see right away if we need to try again (as compared to the former lengthy wait to send our photos to be developed only to get them back and discover too late that we should have done something differently.) I need to get adobe. I just love that photo of you and your granddaughter. It’s precious. I’m glad you could save it.

    • I love that photo too. And you’re right, I can’t imagine trying to run this business without digital photography! 🙂