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Show and Tell: Photographing Handmade Textiles

Today’s guest post by Kellie Nuss, friend of Edie, knitting instructor, designer and also…professional photographer.

For knitters and crocheters in today’s media-centric world, photography has become part of our workflow. We make things, then we take photos and share them. Let’s talk about two ways to do that.

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Hire a Photographer

If you’re a professional designer, writer or instructor, hiring a photographer isn’t difficult. There are photographers right in your neighborhood. Search hashtags or keywords on Facebook or Instagram for someone local whose work you admire. Even if they aren’t a fashion or commercial photographer, they may be interested. Once you find someone, here are some things to keep in mind.

Tips for Working with a Professional Photographer

Photographing Handmade Textiles EquipmentRespect them as a fellow professional when it comes to paying fees. If you can’t afford a photographer, that’s okay—there are alternatives—but if you decide to hire one, be up-front and businesslike with them. A photoshoot is more than the hour spent behind the camera shooting your stuff. Beforehand, there’s communication with you, arranging locations, getting permits, storyboarding, etc.. After the shoot, editing, delivery, and more communication take additional time. In general, an hour of photography equals about 3-5 hours of other work, plus overhead for equipment, travel, insurance and more. You’re also paying for the time you don’t have to spend on YouTube learning DIY photography.

Photographing Handmade Textiles Photographer at work

Understand their style before you hire them. It’s not awesome to have a client say, “Can you make these photos look just like _______’s work?” The work of other artists is legitimate inspiration, to be sure, but only in a general way. Partner with your chosen photographer to create your vision together.

Lastly, don’t ask for unedited images, especially thinking that they can charge you less. For a photographer, the finished image is the product. In the digital world, a photo is rarely deliverable straight out of the camera. In the days of film, all the manipulation took place in the darkroom before an image could even be seen. Digital editing is the darkroom and it matters to a pro to give you their best work.

Hiring a photographer is one way to professionally showcase work, and will save you time and mental energy. You can create or strengthen a brand and have great images custom-made for all the places you need them—your website, your social media feeds, and your printed patterns.

Take Your Own Photos

Photographing Handmade Textiles iPhone DIY photographyIf you’re not inclined to hire a photographer, either because you’re not a professional trying to sell something or because you don’t want to spend the money, don’t worry. Many, if not most, of us have a phone camera in our pocket that can create images good enough even for print. If your phone camera isn’t adequate, you can get a digital camera for about $100 that will serve very well..

Plan on turning off the flash and making use of natural light outside or by a bright window. Photographing just inside an open door is also a good method to get natural light. And here’s more good news. it is possible to take great photos of handmade pieces without a model!

Tips for DIY Photography

Consider an inexpensive mannequin. This will allow you to show the garment as it looks on a body. 

If a mannequin is not an option, and you want to show the whole garment, think beyond just laying it out on a blanket or bed. Can you hang it creatively? Trees, bushes, fences, playground equipment and many other structures can be used.
Don’t be afraid to use some invisible magic to attach a piece to a structure. Pro photographers are constantly improvising. I always have tape, clamps, clothespins, string, safety pins and even thumbtacks in my bag. 

Photographing Handmade Textiles CloseupGet in as close as you can and focus on the details, especially if they are unique and really tell the story of the piece. 

Photographing Handmade TextilesTake photos from many different angles so that you have a lot of images to compare and catch your eye. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what will work until you see it later with a more objective eye.

Because of the ease of digital photography and all the learning resources available on the internet, it’s possible to take your own photos with great results. Dare to experiment and practice, and don’t worry if your first results are not thrilling. Analyze them for changes, delete them forever and get shooting again!

About Kellie Nuss

Kellie started crocheting at 8, knitting at 10 and taking photographs at 13. After years of working in the fiber industry as a teacher and designer while separately maintaining a local photography business, Kellie is now thrilled to have all her eggs in one basket! She now works in the fiber industry as a photographer! Find her @kellienussphotography on instagram and Facebook. She blogs about her photography at

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