If you follow our blog/social media accounts for Knitmastery you may have seen this post there. When we received the article from Katie we realised it could be equally useful for designers taking photos for their patterns so with permission from Katie we are sharing it here too. Enjoy!
Hello, I am Katie Blair Matthews and I work as a freelance photographer in Scotland. I photographed for Wool Tribe 1&2 which was created by the wonderful ladies behind the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Jo & Mica. I have been asked by Knitmastery to share some tips and tricks for photographing your knitwear.
I have taken the challenge to photograph my green jumper within my flat. Knitted by my lovely Mum, this jumper was designed by Jennifer Wood and made with John Arbon Textiles DK Merino wool. No matter what kind of camera you are using, there are three main points to consider when photographing your knitwear: background, lighting and composition/detail.
As your knitwear is your main point of focus, you want to choose an uncluttered and neutral space for your photographs. Think about how the colour of your knitwear fits into the colour of the space. The colour and detail of my green jumper would be lost if I positioned it in front of a dark coloured wall or if it were photographed directly next to outdoor greenery of a similar shade. If you want to emphasise the colour of your knitwear you might want to play with positioning the garment in a space with a contrasting colour. Below I have used a harmonising blue bed sheet so as not to distract from the detail. Some cameras struggle with exposing correctly when there are contrasting colours and lighting so it’s best to use more neutral coloured backgrounds.
My jumper benefits from being hung on a hanger, so for my final photograph I’ve decided to prop it up against a white wall as this creates a non-distracting and neutral backdrop for my photographs.
Photographing in natural lighting is the best way to show off the colours and textures of your knitwear. An overcast but relatively bright day provides the best type of lighting as you then avoid harsh directional sunlight which can create distracting shadows across the knitwear.
You can use a mirror or any other reflective surface to brighten areas of your knitwear. There is a white reflective cabinet to the left of my jumper which is bouncing light back onto the jumper from a window on the right. This has evened out the lighting across my jumper.
First and foremost, avoid using any lighting that gives off an orange colour cast as this will drastically alter the colour of your knitwear. Daylight lamps are the best source of artificial lighting as they replicate the colour of natural lighting. Avoid photographing in rooms with strong coloured walls as they can create a colour cast in your image. Instead, choose light coloured or neutral walls. If you find that the light from your daylight lamp is too strong, try playing with its position in relation to your garment, or, shine the lamp directly towards the nearest wall as the light will then bounce off the wall and back onto the knitwear and potentially provide a softer light.
You can soften the light even further by using baking parchment to act as a diffuser. This can also help soften harsh shadows cast onto the wall. The further away you move your baking parchment from the lamp, the softer the shadows will be. You may need to recruit an extra pair of hands for this! If you are photographing small items of knitwear, you can also try using LED bike lights along with the baking parchment.
Composition and Details
The placement of my jumper on the wall doesn’t show off all the beautiful detail on the arms, so it’s important I adjust the positioning of my garment so that I can really represent its design. Not only does this include the cabling, but I need to make sure to position the jumper so that you can clearly see both arms. I have decided to hang my jumper off the corner of a table within the same space as before. Notice in my images that my camera is level with the jumper as this gives the most accurate perspective.
Some cameras allow for selective focus which can be useful for drawing attention to particular areas of the design, as shown in my first detail photograph above. By lowering my viewpoint and looking across the jumper rather than on top of it, my camera focuses on the sleeve cabling detail and the rest gently falls out of focus. The 2nd detail photograph has no selective focus because I am positioned directly above.
These tips are all relevant to photographing outside and on a model. You may want to play around with photographing in different environments, and both on and off a model to see what looks best. Have fun, and make sure to take lots of photographs so that you have a variety to choose from.