Picture Perfect Tutorial

Stampin up organic grace right light

I'm an amateur photographer with a capitol "A" and by no means are my photos "perfect."  I don't own a fancy camera or even Photoshop software (tried it diligently for the 30 day free trial and gave up).  However, I often get asked by readers for tips on how I take my photos so I'm happy to share the few things I have learned as I have bumped along the picture taking highway.

Mary's Not So Fancy Tips for Better Pictures

1.  My camera is a relatively inexpensive Samsung S730 (Circuit City–around $100).  The key is using the settings "Scene" and "Text."  There are similar features on other brands. 

Stampin up photo tent
2.  I purchased a 20" photo tent and two desktop photo lamps (with daylight bulbs) at an on-line store for about $80.  You could probably get away with a smaller tent if you are primarily snapping cards.  Prior to the tent, I used two large pieces of white card stock as a base and a background.  However, for this second set up, you need good daylight conditions.

3.  I use only white backgrounds to keep pictures consistent in my gallery.

4.  I do not use a tripod.  I prefer to hold steady, stop breathing, focus and shoot.

5.  I take 5 or 6 photos at different angles.  I tend to select the angle with the focal point (or sentiment) closest to the camera.

Stampin up organic grace right dark
6.  I downloaded Picasa (free) software and use it to sharpen, crop, center and brighten as needed.  It's very user-friendly.  This is a shot of the same photo at the top of this post before sharpen and auto contrast (brighten) were applied. Magic 🙂

Today's card was prompted by Beate's Inspiration Challenge.  I was inspired by the the crisp colors and botanical images.  Organic Grace is one of Stampin' Up!'s Hostess Level I sets (also available with on-line product orders of at least $150).  Click here for full details on Stampin's Up!'s Rewards Program.

I stamped the dragonfly in Kiwi Kiss, Baja Breeze and Tangerine Tango on Whisper White card stock.  Using Define Your Life (it covers every occasion and beyond), I stamped the "inspire" sentiment, Chocolate Chip on Whisper White.  TIP:  The look of a layered sentiment can be beautiful.  I layered the Organic Grace fern (Kiwi Kiss) over the sentiment for a soft touch.

Each image received it's delightful "postage stamp" scalloped shape and embossing with the help of Nestabilities Long Rectangles and my Big Shot Die Cutting Machine.  They are layered on Kiwi Kiss and Baja Breeze card stock. Whisper White follows along with a card base in Tangerine Tango (4.25 x 5.5).  A luscious piece of Stampin' Up!'s Chocolate Chip 5/8" Grosgrain Ribbon was the finishing touch.

Say Cheese!

Hugs and Pretties . . . . Mary

COMING UP:  Halloween Ideas, My First Guest Stamper, Stampin' Pretty Gets a Blog Makeover

Stamp Set:  Organic Grace (Hostess Level I), Define Your Life
Paper:  Whisper White, Kiwi Kiss, Baja Breeze, Tangerine Tango
Ink:  Kiwi Kiss, Baja Breeze, Tangerine Tango, Chocolate Chip
Cool Tools:  Big Shot, Nestabilities Long Rectangles
The Perfect Touch:  Chocolate Chip 5/8" Grosgrain Ribbon

Organic grace

Define your life

Define Your Life (109523)


  1. Thanks for the tips Mary. I also use Picasa to edit my photos but can’t figure out how to add a watermark. What’s the secret?

  2. Your tips are wonderful! Thanks!

  3. Wow! thanks for all the info, I feel like you brought it down to a comprehendable and inexpensive level, that is very doable!

  4. I just discovered your blog and loved your photo tips. Do you mind me asking where you bought the photo tent and lights from?



  5. love this card! i love this inspiration challenge, it’s produced some of my all time favorite cards!! i love that chocolate chip ribbon..delicious!!

  6. thanks for this info. i’m desperate for better pics!

  7. Really pretty card!!! Thanks for the tips, I need the tent and a new camera, LOL. My camera is an antique, hahahaha, I hope soon soon I can get a new one and then maybe a tent.
    You are awesome.
    God bless

  8. You’ve used the new hostess set beautifully. I love those nice colours against the white.

    I think I need to get myself one of those tents… I always take picture at night since I’m not home during the day (and daylight). I don’t know where I’m going to put it, though!


  9. How pretty! Great job with the challenge Mary and good picture taking tips too. I struggle with getting the lighting right.

  10. How pretty! Great job with the challenge Mary and good picture taking tips too. I struggle with getting the lighting right.

  11. Thanks for all the great tips! I love what you did with the card – BEAUTIFUL!

  12. BEAUTIFUL card – Mary!!! Love your take on the BIC – well done!!!

  13. Colleen Kramer

    Oh I really like this card! The long rectangle 4-some is really different, and the use of a simple stamp element is perfect. Thanks for the photography tips. Do you leave your light tent set up? Is it easy to set up/take down? Do raise your cards on a makeshift “stage” inside the tent? Thanks for your patience with us!

    Hi Colleen: Thank you for your comments. I have my light tent set up in the unfinished area of my basement so leave it up full-time (I use it almost every day). It’s pretty easy to take down (just folds). I sometimes DO use a makeshift “stage” to raise the card up a bit, especially if I’m doing a grouping.

    Hugs . . . . M

  14. Beautiful card! TFS–I love seeing what we all come up with for these challenges. 😀

  15. Thanks for the great tips Mary!! I just got a Canon Rebel XSI and love it..so I think my pictires have been a bit better lately, but daylight is definitely key!!

  16. Thanks so much for letting us in on how you take such perfect pictures. I do have software and I need to find out how to use it. I love the card and the new colors.

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