The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum, pub. Interweave Press, 2011.
I recently purchased a camera, and am still finding my way around it. Not knowing a lot about photography, I was pleased to find clear explanations of some basic concepts in this book. Compared with Craftsy's Shoot It! class, this book had more specific information about settings and composition, and less information about working with people as models.
In the first chapter, Adnum briefly discusses light, aperture, shutter speed, exposure, color, focus, and major digital camera modes, and gives advice on choosing a digital camera. I imagine I will outgrow this chapter fairly quickly once I learn these basics, but it will be a wonderful reference in the meantime.
Next she goes into actually setting up your shot, touching on composition, background choice, and props---elements that will be dealt with more thoroughly later. Then comes an excellent chapter on do-it-yourself camera accessories: how to make your own light tent, light box, reflector, flash diffuser, seamless background, and even tripod (in a pinch). These pages are referred back to in the following chapters.
A book like this is really hard to organize, and somewhere along the line the choice was made to separate the crafts from each other so entrepreneurs can look up their specific category and have all the information they need in one place. The problem with this method is that there are many similarities when photographing products that come out of various disciplines, which leads to repetition and omission. Some techniques that would be useful when shooting bags, say, are only given in the section on books.
Furthermore, although the categories dealt with in this section are given at the beginning of the section and in the table of contents, they are only given a colored band in the header of the first page and the footer of every odd-numbered page to differentiate them from each other. Given that the choice was made to divide the crafts into separate chapters, I would have appreciated large chapter titles announcing the categories.
Each of these chapters includes FAQs and an interview of a crafter in the respective discipline who takes beautiful and successful photos. The FAQs were well thought out, but I found the interviews less helpful because they mostly reiterated tips found elsewhere in the book. I can see how some people might appreciate reading about real people learning or discovering these things for themselves, though, and seeing the photos that resulted. All the photos in this book are taken by crafters, with credits that not only cite crafter and craft, but camera and settings as well!
The final section of the book contained a nice surprise---extremely useful tutorials on editing essentials, image handling, and optimization. Again, I hope I'll outgrow these chapters soon, but in the meantime I'll really enjoy knowing they're at the back of this book.
The final chapter on business advice provided a nice wrap-up, even though I already knew most of the information it conveyed. The glossary is also helpful, though it omits some terms like "in situ" and "MDF board."
If you have stuff to photograph, whether or not you made it yourself or plan to sell it, you should take a look at this book. If you know a lot about photography, see whether your library carries it. You may learn something new about styling or props.
But if you're a novice like me, you may want to purchase this book and refer to it frequently. Lots of information, effectively presented.
Disclosure: Kangath reviewed a copy of The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos from her library. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Interweave Press or Heidi Adnum.
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