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Knit Like a Boss: Showing Off

I’m sure by now you’ve all knit up some truly fabulous items that you want to share with the world. The only problem is that it can be tricky to make these handmade goodies look nice in photos. That’s where I come in.

If you scroll through projects on Ravelry, you will see photos that run the gamut from professional-grade to roughly the equivalent of a teenager taking a cell phone picture in a bathroom mirror. I’m sure most of us would rather be in the former category, so I’m here to help.

If you want to see some examples of well-done knitting photography, check out Brooklyn Tweed. I’m not in the business of ragging on people, so if you are interested in bad examples, you’ll have to go seek them out.

There are some key elements that make for good knitting photos, so let’s go over them.

Setting

Where you shoot the item is as important as the piece itself. Make sure it’s a nice space, free from clutter and mess. That’s very important. No one wants to see your beautiful new hat with dirty dishes or your kid’s toys piled behind it. Try to use a relatively simple surface, without much in the way of a pattern. You don’t have to shoot on top of blank white paper (that would be kind of stark and boring, really) but try to avoid anything that would distract from the piece. The grain of a wood table or floor, or the lines of tile are interesting without grabbing attention.

Wherever you shoot, keep it clean. Not only is clutter a bad idea, but rogue dust bunnies and dog hairs will look kind of gross in pictures. Just remember that you don’t want anything to pull focus from your item. You put a lot of work into that bad boy, don’t let anything steal the show.

Lighting

If you can shoot in natural light, that will look best. I’m not telling you to have someone skip through a meadow wearing what you’ve made (though if that strikes your fancy, by all means go for it) but setting up shop near a window can do a lot for you. If you can’t get good sun, try and use lamps that are bright enough to show off the pattern, but not so bright that they look harsh. And try not to use lamps that are too overly yellow of blue, as that will skew the color of the product.

Your Subject

This probably goes without saying, but make sure your item is clean and blocked, with no stray yarn ends sticking out. The ends will make it look unfinished and sloppy, and trust me when I say that the littlest dog hair will show up, and once you notice it it will be all that you see. Pick off the hairs (be careful if you want to use a lint roller so you don’t mess up the yarn). Make sure the piece is flat and smooth when you photograph it, so that any stitch patterns are easily visible.

Composition

It can be tough to get a whole item into one shot, especially when we’re dealing with sweaters, blankets and other large things. Sometimes you have no choice but to do the old standby, shooting down from directly above and getting the whole thing in the frame. I usually do that in addition to closer, more creative shots.

Yes, armpits make for great angles.

If there’s a stitch pattern, make sure you get some close-ups of it. You can do it at different angles while still filling up the frame, which is a bit more interesting than simply shooting it straight on. You can also get close enough that you’re focused on one small part of the item, which will definitely take up the whole shot and can look rich and lush when done well.

Try to pick a section that's relatively free from errors.

What works well will be different for every item. Don’t be afraid to play around and see what looks good. If you need some basic photo tips, you can always check out Kortney Thoma’s “Picture This” column. And don’t be afraid to mess up.

A note: you don’t have to have a high-end camera to take great photos of your stuff. You can use a point-and-shoot or even your phone if that’s what you’ve got. No camera can make up for great setting, light and composition.

By [E] Liza

PhD student. Knitter. Brooklynite. Long-distance dog mom. Reluctant cat lady. Majestic unicorn whose hair changes color with the wind.

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