July 14th, 2011

3 Tips from Gale Zucker for Getting Great Photos

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This summer, it has been our pleasure to welcome Gale Zucker as a guest instructor!  Gale is a commercial & editorial photographer whose photos have appeared in the books Shear Spirit: Ten Farms, Twenty Projects and Miles of Yarn and Mason Dixon: Knitting Outside the Lines.  She is the co-author and photographer of the upcoming book, Craft Activism: People, Projects & Ideas from the New Community of Handmade, which will be released in September!  We asked Gale to share a few tips for making the beauty of our finished objects shine through in images we can share with the world.

Photography for Knitters: 3 Tips for Photographing Your FO’s on Real People

The GOAL –

Have one goal for your photo.

You can only have one goal for every photo.  Let’s say you knit a fabulous cashmere cowl. You’ve got your beautiful friend/daughter/neighbor posing in it. What’s your goal? To show us that cowl looking luxurious and soft. You need to concentrate on that and not get caught up in making a killer portrait of your model. Here’s the thing: either you’re making a photo of a cowl or you’re making a photo about your friend. Who happens to be wearing a cowl. It’s not the same photo most of the time. It’s almost impossible to be trying to do both at the same time. Work on making the cowl look amazing, shooting from different angles, coming in close and lopping off your friend’s head, photographing from behind, or maybe from above. When you think you’ve got some good stuff, then you can concentrate on making a nice portrait of your model, just for fun.


The light.

Turn off that flash. No excuses! Use natural light, whether you are indoors or can step outside. If you’re outdoors, try to stay in the shade, or do your photography early, or late, in the day. That’s when the light is warmer in color and coming at a lower angle.  Sidelighting really brings out the thing we love most about fiber/knits: the texture. If you need to stay indoors, try getting close to a window, or open the door, and let the light hit your FO as you stand with your back to the light source. Or try standing to the side, parallel to the light source(the window or door) and place a white foamcore board opposite it , just outside of your frame, to bounce the light back in. Instant studio!


Tell your model what to do. Think about it – someone sticks you in a sweater or mittens that you weren’t planning on wearing – and maybe are totally out of season – and then tells you to….act natural? Awkward! The more awkward your model feels in front of the camera, the more uncomfortable they will look. Keep talking to the person posing and tell them what to do — turn around, walk, sit, floof their hair, wave the knits around, jump, twirl, pick up twigs…whatever. You can even create a little scenario and have them move through it, like packing a picnic, or cutting flowers or getting on a bicycle. Being told what to do gives them something to focus on, a way to move and then you get a natural-looking model in knitwear.

And, finally, shoot A LOT. Pixels are free, so keep shooting.

For more tips, and lots of hands-on practice, join Gale Zucker next week, in her class Photographing Your Finished Objects on Real Life Models.  Our thanks to Gale for writing this guest post, and for letting us use her gorgeous images.


8 Responses to “3 Tips from Gale Zucker for Getting Great Photos”

  1. Pomogolightly Says:

    I’m so excited for this class!

  2. Mimaedie Says:

    Great suggestions!  I try to focus on both the model and work and it always looks stilted.  and…natural light! Good tips.

  3. Maureen Says:

    I have made the shawl that is in the first picture.

  4. Christina Habberjam Says:

    I like the shawl in the 3rd photo – wondering where I can find the pattern…

  5. Woolanthrope Says:

    Love Gale, she is such a pro and lovely person.  I have taken her class and learned a lot from her.

  6. Gale Says:

    Hi Christina- You’re admiring the Belinda Shawl, from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.

  7. Terri Says:

    Thanks so much! I found out the hard way that natural light is best, but fortunately (like she says) pixels are free!!
    Now I need to get hubby to read this so he can take good shots of ME wearing my FOs. 🙂

  8. Gale Says:

    Me too!

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