Beautiful Product Photography: Muse Glass

Muse Glass uses an enchanting combination of interesting composition and
beautifully textured backgrounds to showcase her work:

museglass via Etsy

Small Object Photography take away:
  • Featuring extremely close-up, detailed photos on your home page will draw your customers in
  • Simple and clean-lined pieces are nicely contrasted by the textured backgrounds
  • Allowing the props to fall off the edge of the image keeps the focus on the main object
  • Choosing a general color theme also helps unify an online shop - notice how there are shades of blue, green. gold and/or brown in all of her photos?
Beautiful work, MuseGlass!

Before and After: Anandi of Anandi's Laboratory

Shiny objects are among the most difficult subjects to photograph. Let's see how Anandi of Anandi's Laboratory has improved her photos by managing her light source and changing the composition of the photo:

  • Unnatural glare is caused by pointing the light source directly at the item
  • It also looks like the item was photoshopped and placed on a pure white background
  • Centered and straight composition takes away from the handmade nature of the piece

  • Diffused lighting reflected back onto the piece softens the light source and evens out the shadows
  • Effective use of a solid color for the background warms up the image
  • Slightly angled composition more closely mimics how a customer would see the tag when looking at it in their hands while maintaining the diamond shape image of the tag 
Managing light in small object product photography is challenging and sometimes counter-intuitive. I encourage you to experiment! See what it's like to point your light *away* from your object but reflect it back using a white piece of paper. Keep an eye out for the difference in the quality of the light and shadows in your photos with every lighting change you try.

We'll talk more about managing light sources in the coming weeks -- there is a lot to discuss and share!

Thank you for sharing your before and after photos with us Anandi
Your photos look great! Keep up the good work!

What Do You Think?

Dear Readers,

It's been about 2 months since the official launch of and there are already almost 200 regular readers and many more daily viewers. Wow! Thank you so much for being here! You are all so very special to me.

Now, I would love to hear your feedback - complimentary to constructive - on how the blog here is doing so far. Stuff like:

  • How did you find
  • What post(s) has helped you the most so far?
  • What topics would you like to see covered in the near future?
  • Do you have specific photography questions that you haven't seen answered anywhere else?
Please leave your comments, questions and observations in the comments section of this post.
Any questions will be answered here on the blog or via private email depending on the topic. I'll do my best to get to all of your questions!


If you include the URL to your online shop in the comments section along with your feedback, you'll be entered into a random drawing to have your shop photos reviewed for FREE with my new Small Object Photography Photo Evaluation Service! Your evaluation report will include a helpful critique of your shop's photography and specific suggestions on how to improve your photos quickly and easily using the equipment you already own. More details on this service will be officially announced to the public around mid-March 2011.

Be sure to leave your comment and URL soon
Entries to win the FREE Small Object Photography Photo Evaluation 
drawing will end on Friday, March 4, 2011 and 
the winner will be announced on Monday, March 7, 2011!

thumbs up by myeyesees via flickr

Before and After: Foamy Wader

This week's inspirational Before and After goes to FoamyWader - a Seattle based artist who specializes in an eclectic mix of gemstone jewelry and knit beards. Yes. I said Knit Beards! Trust me. You have to check them out :)

Foamy Wader's photography is truly great. I had to reach far back into her sold archives to find a "before" shot, but as you can see - the changes made a huge difference!

  • Inadequate lighting darkens the whole photo and casts a gray shadow on the whole piece
  • Busy background detracts from the beauty of the pendant
  • Unnecessary composition of the entire neck strap
  • The use of bright natural light really brings out the colors in the pendant
  • Simple background adds just enough interest without distraction
  • The close-up composition focuses on the beautiful cloisonne pendant with just enough of the chain to let the viewer know what they are purchasing
Getting this close with your photos is uncomfortable at first, but when you compare your before and after photos, you'll see a difference!

Great job Foamy Wader - your shop looks wonderful! 
Thank you for sharing your before and after photos with us!

Beautiful Product Photography: Kim Westad: Ceramist

In many of my composition posts, I talk about using the "Rule of Thirds" and the "Fibonacci Spiral" to create dynamic photography. Which at its root suggests that placing your work in the very center of the photo is undesired.

However - to EVERY rule there are (many) Beautiful Exceptions! 
This shop from Kim Westad is the perfect example of one of those exceptions: 

Why does this work? 
  • The items are gorgeous (this helps a great deal)
  • They are placed on a gradient background (fades from white to dark gray)
  • The white balance / color balance is spot-on (white and off-white are distinguishable)
  • The highlights reflected in each piece encourages your eye to scan the whole photo

Please share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Before and After: Cropping, Brightening and Contrast

This week, we'll talk about making your *Almost Great* Before photos into your *Absolutely Great* After photos!

Let's start with this photo of one of my hand-stitched felt business card holders:
There isn't a lot wrong with this photo - but it can be better!

First, we'll crop it really close - and I mean REALLY close - 
for dramatic effect and detail capture:

Nice and close-up - but still a little dark. 

Using Photoshop, we'll add a "brightness and contrast" adjustment layer to the photo.
Brightening and upping the Contrast nets us this:

Ahhh! Much better!
It will take some trial and error to find just the right balance of light and dark, but luckily, all of the programs out there come with an "undo" button! 

Let's compare the Before and After:

My advice:  Be bold, be brave and make it just a little brighter than you think it should be just to see what it looks like - then compare it to the original photo. You might be surprised at how dark your original photo looks in comparison!

Tip: When you open your original photo, immediately "Save As..." a new photo in your computer's photo folder. Then, when you are fiddling with the adjustments you will be assured that if you end up going much too far in any direction you'll always be able to start over from scratch! 

Bonus Tip:
In addition to a great close-up photo, experiment with taking a detail photo to show the depth and detail of your work like this:

I just love detail shots...don't you?

Quick Tip: Learn from the Pros

There is a wealth of information out there on all sorts of studio photography. One of my favorite resources of information is the photography blog:

Created by Jim Talkington, his blog is full of detailed information, videos and articles on all aspects of product and model photography. I especially recommend that you view his extensive video collection - the tips and tricks you will learn there will do wonders to help you improve your photography all the way around!

Like this amazingly helpful video about "Lighting Glassware in the Studio" - one of the most difficult mediums to capture effectively:

Thank you to Jim Talkington for sharing your knowledge with the world!

Beautiful Product Photography: Whitney Smith

Stunning work deserves equally stunning photography. Whitney Smith achieves both beautifully!

 WhitneySmith via

SmallObjectPhotography take-away:
  • Neutral backgrounds with soft shadows help the eye to see the shape of the objects
  • Don't be afraid to crop parts of your items out of the photo
  • Mix up the composition of your photos in your shop for balance

Before and After: Neatobeado / Natasha Puffer

Taking photos of extraordinarily small objects can be a challenge. The solution is to use a camera with a short macro focal length (the measurement of the distance between the object and the camera lens) and get up close and really personal to bring out the details and add depth to the photo.

Natasha of Natasha Puffer Designs on Etsy and Neatobeado is an extraordinary lampwork glass artist, creating miniature sculptures and beads from rods of molten glass. Her new photos really show off the whimsical nature of her work:

  • Bright lighting (possibly flash?) washes out the image, taking away all shadows that tell us the the item is 3-dimensional 
  • Photoshopping out the background creates a flat almost two-dimensional image. 
  • Placement of the necklace in the very center of the photo is too static.

  • The main object is placed at a slight angle just off-center to create visual tension. 
  • Her use of miniature props and placement of a different color combination in the background makes this an image that tells an interesting story.
  • Effective use of macro / close-up photography to create a short depth of field makes the viewer want to reach out and pick up the item.

Bonus tip:
Take a photo of your tiny object next to a universally recognized object to show the scale of the piece. In this instance, she used her hand to convey the size of the pendant:

Thanks so much for sharing your photos with us Natasha! Keep up the great work!


Do YOU have some before and after photos to share with us? 
Please send up to 4 photos* to marlo [at] for a chance to be featured right here on Before and After day!

*Photos do NOT have to be photos of the same item. 
They just need to show how you improved your photography technique overall.