A Woodworker’s Guide to Photography
Take great furniture photos with the camera you already own
Synopsis: Learn how to take professional-quality photographs of your furniture using a basic point-and-shoot digital camera and a few inexpensive supplies. Fine Woodworking Art Director Michael Pekovich shares a stripped-down version of the process we use at the magazine to get perfect photos, whether you want to build a web site or a portfolio, or simply share your work with others.
Ten years ago, if you had asked me how to get good photos of your work, I’d have told you to hire a pro. Not today. With simple lighting and a digital camera, you can use pro techniques to take great pictures.
This is possible largely because a digital camera’s display screen provides instant feedback that lets you craft a shot step by step. Also, even a basic digital camera has all the image sharpness you’ll need to create eye-catching photos of your work for the Web, or for printed photo albums, post cards, etc.
Getting started is easy. From camera setup to lighting to fine-tuning a shot, I’ll share a stripped-down version of the process we use at FWW to get magazine-ready pictures.
Why do so many pictures of great furniture turn out badly? The three basic components of a shot are the camera angle, the background, and the lighting. Most home photos fall down in all three. Taking a picture of a piece from a few feet away using an on-camera flash will typically yield a distorted shot with harsh glare, dark shadows, and a distracting background. The fix is simple: First, set the furniture on a white backdrop. Second, move the camera back and put it on a tripod so you can turn off your flash. Then add a couple of utility lights to create natural shadows and you’re well on your…