Taking Better Photos of Tsum Tsums and More
Ever wonder how to get the perfect shot of your tsum tsum collection to share on social media? Well, look no further! These handy tips (many of which can apply to taking photos of other things as well) will help take you from amateur to pro in no time!
TIP #1: Good, Even Lighting
This tip alone can make a world of difference when taking photos. Sunlight is always the best light as artificial lights can cast pretty awful colors in photos. Find a spot in your home that gets great natural light and plan to take photos in that area during the day time, whenever possible. If you can’t move your subject, try taking photos at different times of the day to see what turns out the best.
When selecting an spot, unless you intentionally want harsh shadows, the light source (whether artificial or natural) should be behind the camera/phone. This gives the most even lighting on your subject. You want to try to have the same lighting throughout the entire photo – no shadows from a curtain or window pane running through the middle of the photo.
A note about using flash…in most cases, if you can avoid it, don’t use it. It bounces off the object closest to you, not always lighting what you intend to be lit. It can create harsh shadows and unnatural highlights that are blown out. It can cause your subject, if alive, to blink (my daughter HATES the flash and often covers her eyes or makes awkward faces when I try to use a flash).
Notice the much more even lighting on the subject in the second photo.
TIP #2: Distraction-Free Background
While still accounting for lighting, you also want to consider the background of your photo. If you are taking photos in your home, try to select a neutral or mostly solid background that is free of clutter. No one want to see what’s out on your kitchen counter (plus it distracts from the main subject of your photo).
When photographing tsum tsums (vinyls especially), I’ve found that both fabric and decorative cardstock or paper make great backgrounds, and can hide anything that might distract behind the object.
TIP #3: Change Your Angle
If you look at most beginner photos, you’ll notice the photos are almost always taken at eye-level, usually pointing down toward the subject. Try moving the camera to be even with the subject, so you’re taking the photo from straight on. You could even try different angles – from directly above or below or from one side or the other. Take several photos of the same subject from different angles to see what the different perspective does for your photo.
While the first photo is a decent photo, it’s much more interesting when you change the angle and get down on the same level as the subject (yes, I was actually laying on my stomach to get the second shot).
TIP #4: Focus on the Subject
There’s two parts to this tip…the first is to actually focus on whatever your subject is. On most smart phones, if you touch your screen while in the Camera app, you can change what you want the camera to focus on. It usually finds whatever is in the center of the screen to focus on and also reads the lighting of that subject for the entire photo (this his how you end up with too dark photos with blown-out background). You can change this by simply touching on the screen where you want it to focus.
While subtle, notice the focus in the first image is on the sign in the background and Heihei is slightly out of focus. It is reversed in the second photo. In this case, either photo would work, it just depends where you want to focus the attention!
Part two is to get in close to your subject. This is probably one of the most common mistakes beginning photographers make – their subject is tiny with a bunch of background around it. Physically move closer to your subject, if you can, to cut out extra background (even if it’s not distracting. If you can’t physically move closer, try zooming in instead.
In the first image, little Heihei is barely noticeable since he’s so far away! The second photo shows him much closer up (this was accomplished by moving closer, zooming in slightly, and then cropping tighter after the photo was taken).
TIP #5: Use an Editing App
There are countless photo editing apps out there for smart phones, including some directly built in to many social media apps. While pre-set filters are great starting points for adding an effect to your photo, it doesn’t usually result in the exact outcome we expected. Try playing around with some of the “Edit” features, such as exposure, contrast, highlight, shadow, sharpen, saturation, tint, color, warmth, etc. I personally use the Edit features within Instagram and the Photos app on my iPhone as well as a photo editing app called VSCO (this is just one of several out there).
The first photo is the original, straight out of camera (SOOC in photographer lingo). The second image is edited completely in apps on my phone.
We want to see your Tsum Tsums photos using these tips! Tag us on Instagram (@tsum_thing @tsumthing_katiej @tsumtsummarie) and use the hashtag #tsumphototips to show us how awe-tsum your photo skills are now!