Take Better Photos of Your Amigurumi on a Budget
Have you ever finished a project and wanted to share your achievement with other people? But as you hold up your phone and snap a picture, you realize the photo just doesn’t do your toy justice. Maybe it’s dark or maybe there’s distracting clutter in the background. Either way, your beautiful creation isn’t getting the chance to shine. Don’t worry. You don’t need an expensive camera or an elaborate set up to take good pictures. In this article we’ll cover how to take better photos of your amigurumi on a budget!
Take Better Photos of Your Amigurumi on a Budget
Just to be clear, before we dive in, I’m NOT a professional photographer. The concepts, tips, and ideas I’m going to lay out here are mostly from personal experimentation and bits I learned in art school. As a bonus, I also have some tips to share from one of my crochet friends that takes absolutely beautiful photos.
Everyone is going to have their own style and methods. This is what works for me, but I encourage you to experiment and see what you like best.
What You Need
To keep things as simple and budget-friendly as possible, we’re going to stick with just a few key things.
- Camera: I use the camera on my phone (Google Pixel 7 Pro) for literally all my photos
- A backdrop: I use large white poster paper, but you can use colored paper, fabric, walls etc…
- A small clip or plastic clamp: if you’re using paper or fabric, you may need a clip to hold up or position your backdrop
That’s it! I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but we’re going very simple and basic here. You can always change it up by using different colored backgrounds, props, etc…
And even if all you have is a camera, you can still make this work. Look around at your space or outside for backdrop inspiration. Maybe you have a really pretty wood cabinet or a rustic brick wall. Even trees and fences make great backdrops.
For example, I took the left photo below in a planter bed outside a restaurant. The photo on the right was taken by an old brick wall beside a vacant lot.
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Things to Keep in Mind
Warm vs Neutral vs Cool
Did you know light actually has a temperature? When you see lights that cast a yellow-ish tone, that’s called warm light. Conversely, lights that cast a blue-ish tone are called cool light. You hit neutral when the light is neither warm nor cool. Generally you’ll want to go for neutral light since it’ll keep the colors of your projects truer to reality.
Check out the different variations in this photo of Hernando the Hedgehog.
However, in some cases you could use warm or cool light to convey a feeling or vibe. For example, if you’re taking pictures of a snowman for Christmas, using the slightest hint of blue light can convey an icy feel like snow. Or if you’re showing off a cozy sweater for Christmas, a slight warm light can give the impression of warmth, maybe by a fire.
Setting Up Your Photo Shoot with Natural Light
Ideally you want soft natural light which is most prevalent in the mornings and late afternoons. Try setting up your photo shoot next to a window, making sure you’re not getting direct sunlight coming in. If the shadows are really harsh, you can use another poster paper on the side to bounce the light back onto your project and soften those shadows.
In the images above, I set up a fold-able tray table next to a window and used my gooseneck phone holder and a clip to hold up one side of the poster paper. You can do this with a high-back chair as well. Then I crouched down until my phone was pretty level with my armadillo and took the first shot.
It’s a pretty good start, but still a little dark. So then I took a shot from above to show off how dark the shadows are on one side. To soften them, I held a piece of white printer paper beside my project to bounce the light back. Then the final image is the exact same as the previous one, just cropped.
None of the photos I took above are edited, but they still look fairly bright and neutral in tone. When we get to the editing step, we can adjust the brightness and tweak other settings to make the project pop!
Setting Up Your Photo Shoot with Artificial Light
If you’re using a ring light or another artificial light source, try playing around with angles and how the light is hitting your project. For example, shining a lamp right onto your project is going to cast some harsh shadows. Try moving the light back from your piece or using something to bounce light from the other direction such as poster paper.
My friend Celia from @cjscraftycritters was kind enough to send me some photos of her set up. She uses sheets of plain and patterned fabric for her backdrops and lights with diffusers attached. And although Celia uses some pretty professional looking lighting, you can actually make your own diffusers with semi-transparent sheets and even parchment paper!
Just pin your diy diffuser in front of your light (ring light, lamp, etc…) and boom! You’ve got a softer light source.
If you’re interested in learning more about bouncing and diffusing light, check out this really cool article from Kyle Deguzman on the Studio Binder blog: How to Bounce Light.
This is the fun part! Playing around with different angles can show off your project in new and creative ways.
Flat lays are when you take a photo of your project from the top down with your piece on a flat surface. This angle works great for products that can lay flat naturally like a teddy bear for example. These kinds of photos are pretty easy to set up and offer a lot of customization in terms of composition.
Depending on the style you prefer, you can take flat lay shots of your project by itself, or use small props to create visual interest. Just be sure your props aren’t stealing the show. You want people to be looking at your creation, so everything in the background needs to pull the eye toward your piece.
In the left image, I used a ton of sewing pins to position Kelvin the Temp Snake’s long body into a repeating curve to make the image more interesting. In the right image, I wanted to encourage those fall vibes of the my Popcorn Pumpkin with little star anise cloves.
When it comes to props you can use anything from spices to beads, crochet hooks, and even more yarn. The sky is the limit! Play around with adding different items to your images.
Plus, you can use other objects to help position your pieces, like how I used pins to get Kelvin’s body to stay in shape. Celia often uses smaller crochet hooks to prop up her projects for photos.
The most common angle you’ll see is frontal where your camera is level with your project and shooting straight on. Depending on the project, this can work really well, but I recommend trying out different angles. Try turning your piece slightly for a 3/4 view or even more for a profile view. Mess with close up shots vs wider views, etc… Maybe you can blur the background or flip it and blur the foreground (the part of the image closest to the viewer).
Check out these two example images of Sid the Snowman. The one on the left is pretty simple, but the one on the right gives a little more character. It almost seems like the snowman with the green hat is leaning in to tell you a secret while his friend tries to eavesdrop.
“Each of your creations has it’s own flair that is uniquely your own, so hone that in and use it. What mischief would your amigurumi get into? Example: penguins are such silly babies that show off to anyone watching… Take pictures of them playing with something or tumbling over each other for a good laugh. The amigurumi is the star of the show but having props and such can help accentuate your work.”– Celia, @cjscraftycritters
When it comes to editing there’s an entire world of information, tools, and things to mess around with. And honestly this topic could easily be it’s own separate post. However, for the sake of keeping things easy and concise, we’re going to look at some basics.
You don’t have to use super expensive software like Photoshop to edit photos. In fact there’s tons of free editing apps out there including some built into most smart phones. My personal favorite is Canva. Canva is a free editing site that lets you not only edit photos, but create graphics, add text, etc…
While there are some awesome premium features, I’ll just be focusing on the free version of Canva for now.
NOTE: I prefer to use Canva on my desktop because it’s much easier to manage all the features. You can use the app version on your phone, but it tends to be harder to navigate and use.
Let’s take a sample photo from the beginning.
First we’re going to create a Canva account and then select “Create a Design.” You can choose to import an image file, create a custom size image or search for the image type you want such as “Instagram Post.”
Next, we’re going to click on the Elements tab and type in “Grid.” (If you chose to import a file, skip this step.) Select “see all” above the first result. Then choose the type of layout you want. This is great for creating collages of images or working on a single image.
Then go to the “Uploads” tab and either upload your image or select an image you’ve already uploaded. When you click it, it’ll appear over the image grid. Hover the image over it and it’ll autofill into the grid. You can adjust the placement by double clicking on the image and centering it as you like.
Then click “Edit Photo” on the top bar. The left bar will expand to show different options. You can play around with adding filters, blurs and other effects. But I recommend first going to the “Adjust” tab first to get a feel for manually altering your images.
You can click “Auto Adjust,” but it doesn’t always perfectly fix an image. Scroll down and check out the different slider bars. Try playing with each one to see how it effects the image. If your photo is dark, up the brightness level or if it’s looking really warm, adjust the temperature to the cool side until it levels out.
Once you’re happy with how it looks, click the “Share” button in the top right corner. Then click “Download.”
Now you’ve got an edited image! There’s SO MANY features to play around with on Canva that I suggest spending a little time just exploring and messing with settings. And that’s just on the free version!
I hope you enjoyed this article because it was a blast to write! I also want to say a huge thank you to my friend Celia from @cjscraftycritters for her tips and contributions to this post. She is amazing at setting up scenes and I admire her skills so much.
What are your thoughts on taking photos of your projects? Do you have a favorite photo shoot set up or editing app? I’d love to hear! Share in the comments below.
Til next time! Happy stitching!