19 August 2022

5 Tips to Punch Up Your Card Photography

Photographing your cards is an ever-evolving learning process.  I knew nothing about props and lighting and I'd never heard the term flat lay.  My photography experience was in nature photography, not product or even studio photography.  It took me years to get to the quality stylized photos like the one below.  

I was determined to learn and jumped in with both feet,.  I started with a window in my studio to provide natural light, a sheet of white poster board for a background, and a sheet of plywood for a base.  Were these photos polished?  Did they pop?  No, but they were a starting point.  I also had the challenge of living in Alaska, natural window light was not going to be a sustainable for year-round photography.  Winter light is limited and very often dull with many overcast days.  I knew I would need to better tools to improve my card photography.

Yana Smakula's post on Cardmaking Photography is a fabulous resource.  I learned so much from her article. Yana talks about props and how to create visual depth with flat lay photography.  In one of Kelly Taylor's videos from a few years ago, she talked about using a light box.  I was like "what? a lightbox?"  Time to google what she was talking about.  Hello Foldio!  I've tried several styles and ideas since I bought my box and have only recently, like in the last month settled on something I love.  Now, how about those tips?

Tip #1:
Buy a light box.  No seriously, spend the money you'll be glad you did.  Then it won't matter if you live where it rains nine months out of the year or you only have time to photograph your cards at midnight.  I love my Foldio.

Tip #2:
Get a tripod or camera stand.  I don't care if you take photos with your phone or a fancy camera, it's a must.  Your photos will be sharper and clearer if you aren't juggling your camera or phone while trying to take the perfect shot.  I have a vintage tripod for my DSLR camera and I have this stand for my iPhone.  I've recently gone back to using my iPhone for convenience and trust me the stand has made a clear difference in the quality of my phone photos.

Tip #3:
Learn a basic editing program.  I use Picmonkey, and while it's not free it does all the things I need it to and it's not as complicated as many of the others.  I needed something for basic edits, nothing fancy.

Tip #4:
Find your style.  Your style, not someone else's.  You'll notice I don't use products or flowers in my photos, that's because that's not my style.  I like a clear crisp white background and basic black props that lead the viewer's eye to focus on the card.  I want my card to be the star of the photo.  Don't be afraid to change your style along the way. Our card-making style evolves over time and there is no reason our photography style shouldn't evolve along the way.

Tip #5:
Find a signature prop.  This ties in with finding your own style.  Having a signature prop will catch a viewer's eye.  It's like a memory trigger when they see it they'll associate it with your work and in an instant, they know it's your work.  

Bonus Tip:
Ask for feedback.  Asking for feedback makes everyone uncomfortable, but can be so very enlightening and beneficial.  Take the pressure off by asking someone to share three things they like about your photos and one thing they feel you could improve.  This will you to see your photos from the viewer's perspective and enable you to up your game.

If you're looking for people who do amazing card photography here are a few of my favorite Instagram accounts:
There are several other great people on Instagram with stunning photography, these are just a few of my favorite cardmakers.

I hope these tips and tools help you improve your photography.  Find a system that works for you, be consistent, and strive to always improve your card photography.

Shop the Tools I use:
Foldio2 Plus Portable Product Photo Studio Light Box with Dimmable LED Light
Foldio2 Plus Portable Product Photo Studio Light Box with Dimmable LED Light
Shop at:
Overhead Phone Mount Stand Stand Articulating Arm and Table Top Base
Overhead Phone Mount Stand Stand Articulating Arm and Table Top Base
Shop at:

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