5 Tips for Photographing Souvenirs and Crafts
A photographer should never buy a souvenir but should photograph it. Although, doing this wouldn’t exactly come without costs. After all, you need to master the art of detail, of geometry, and light; You need to be prepared to take pictures in a crowded dark little shop.
Travel photography is not an easy job, but it is extremely precious and dear to all the photographers in the world. That being said, here are some simple tips for taking the best pictures of souvenirs and crafts.
Find your subject
What do you interpret a “souvenir” to be? It’s definitely not a fridge magnet.
Every place has its own charm, legends, and beliefs, so look for something native to the location you are visiting. Make traditional crafts, memorable landmarks, historical details that have a real story the subjects of your souvenir photography. They can be artistic or spiritual. Just refrain from photographing serial objects, plastic ones, or cheap touristic garbage. Go beyond the story and choose a character. Think of a subtle floral motif that appears on traditional costumes. Think of painted glass or wooden lace handmade by artisans.
Remember: A souvenir has to be special to receive a place in your memory.
Depth of Field
When you photograph isolated objects you want to have a very sharp foreground and a blurred background. In doing this, you will be able to emphasize the souvenir by blocking everything else around it.
In order to do this, you will need a shallow depth of field. One popular method to have a shallow depth of field is to use a large aperture (like f/2.8). To compensate for a large aperture, you will need a slower shutter speed.
Do be careful with low shutter speeds. Exposing for a long time can make you shake the camera and the result will be a blurred image (not just a blurred background). To avoid this, use a tripod– particularly if you take pictures in low light conditions.
Use Creative Effect Camera Lenses
Souvenirs and crafts are good subjects for creative effect camera lenses. These lenses offer many ways of blocking the background and they do it in a fun way. Try a Lensbaby Composer lens. It allows you to choose the subject in focus by rotating the lens around. A benefit to using this lens is the subject doesn’t need to be in the center of the image. The area in focus can have different shapes as well. Lensbaby has accessories for everything and you can even make your own by cutting off paper or plastic film.
When you photograph souvenirs, remember this: light is very important.
Look for a soft and uniform light and avoid everything that sits under a glass or plastic shield. Daylight is perfect for taking pictures of souvenirs and crafts. Also, keep an eye out for street stands or open-air workshops. And, as always, sunset is a perfect moment for photography as golden light creates the perfect atmosphere.
Textures and Patterns
Souvenirs are a good source of textures and patterns. On a stand, you will find similar objects, sometimes in similar colors.
- Train your eye and photograph a series of objects.
- Give your pictures rhythm and geometry.
- Include as much color as you possibly can.
- Patterns enforce the idea of crafts and build solid memories.
- Pay attention to balance when you are working with textures.
Even if the textured objects are small they will catch the eye while everything else will likely be ignored.
Also, remember to practice by taking several pictures– some pictures with just one item and some of them with a series of items. Then ask yourself “which ones look better?”
Make photographing souvenirs from your journey part of your experience. It will help you delve further into the atmosphere by forcing you to pay attention to details, stories, and people.
And, as always, don’t let the big picture interfere with the small one. Details are extremely important for a story.