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Photographing Project Life

I’ve been asked many times how I get my Project Life images clear and crisp on my blog post and I think I owe you this long overdue post to explain how I go about photographing my spreads.

Seriously, there’s no special techniques involved in getting the right images to show the pages exactly what you see in real life. Anyone can do this, as long as you have the important condition to capture the ideal shots of your PL spreads. Lighting. I’ll elaborate more in a short while.

I’ll share some tips on how I always go about taking photos of my Project Life pages and this will also work the same for any other craft projects or any kind of photos you wish to capture. Just remember that there’s no hard and fast rules how you can make the best of the situation to get the best shots. I’m sharing the things I need to consider when I take photos of my projects, how I do it and what works for me. So, there’s really no right or wrong how you do it. As long as it works for you, that’s all it matters most. πŸ™‚

Here are some tips which may come useful for you.

Lighting condition

I live in an apartment on a 9th floor and I’m lucky that part of my unit is not blocked by another apartment. I get the best natural light streaming into my place on a bright and sunny day, especially my bedroom. No direct sunlight but with enough light to brighten up my room perfectly.

You need find your ideal space in your home or even outside without direct sunlight. Just look for a space bright enough for photographing your projects. I’m sure there’s a space somewhere in your home with window big enough to let in good natural light.


My second choice of space in my home with great natural lighting would be my living room. With a full length window, I have enough light to brighten up my whole apartment. I have a night curtain which I usually draw it close before I photograph my Project Life spread. This would diffuse any additional light that could be too harsh for my pages. Funny thing is, even though my bedroom window has a roller blind, without any curtain to act as diffuser, my layouts don’t look too harsh when I photograph them. So, you really need to play around with the natural light in your home and get the right spot.

On another note, I do not photograph my projects after 6pm. It’s too dark and my photos would look a little grainy to my liking. I also do not take photos at night with the lights turned on. It looks awful and I have to spend extra time editing them. That’s my own “rule”. πŸ˜‰

The best time I think to take photos would be between 9-11 morning or 3-5 afternoon. It really depends on the lighting condition of your space. Just find the right time to photograph your projects and they will look great. πŸ™‚


Prepare props

All you need is a few simple props to lay your PL spreads. For me, I bought big sheets of white art paper from Art Friend, our local art store, as the background and lay it on top of a hard cork board I bought from Ikea years ago. It’s good to get a flat and firm base in order to prevent unevenness of your PL spread, especially like me where I photograph my spread on my bed with a softer surface compared to the floor.Β I then lay them on my bed near the window where I get the best natural light.

_MG_2711 2a


Photographing PL Spread

There’s seriously no big secret in getting clear and crisp images of my Project Life pages. I simply remove all the cards from the plastic protector and lay them on top of the protector! That’s it. Easy right? πŸ™‚

I’ve tried photographing my PL spread with all the cards in the pockets of my protectors many times and I still get good clean images as well. I don’t really get reflection when I photograph them maybe because of the light coming into my bedroom and the angle that I photograph my pages. Sometimes I just move my spread to a different corner of my bed until I get the right position without getting any reflection.

The other reason I like to photograph my PL spread out of the protector is because I can see the texture of my embellishment better. If they’re inside the pockets, the cards will look a little flat.

_MG_2715 2a

So, once the cards are all laid out properly on top of the protector, you’re ready to take the shot.

I always use my SLR to photograph my PL spread as they produce sharper and better resolution images and they look better when posted online. I would then stand over my PL spread, direct the camera face down directly on top of my page and snap away! I usually take a couple of shots to be on the safe side so I can choose the best one to crop and edit.

Do remember to compose your picture carefully so it don’t look distorted. Use the grid lines on your camera screen to guide the 4 sides of you spread to get an accurate composition.

Note: I always bump up the exposure reading to +1 or +2. The image always look brighter on my SLR screen and a little darker on my laptop. So, bumping up the exposure a little saves me a little more time when I edit my images on Photoshop.


_MG_2727 2a

The details

Once I take enough shots of the complete layout of my spread, I would then take close up shots to get in more details of each card. You can capture your close up shot at different angle.

You can shoot at an angle like what I did on the image below. This would be my favorite angle whenever I photograph the details of my cards. It show a little more texture of the embellishment with this view. It really depends on individual preference how you want to capture your close up images, as long as you feel it best represent the details of your spread. πŸ™‚

_MG_2718 2a

And the other way of getting a close up shot will be top straight down. This view is as good as the angle earlier and it’s also a favorite of mine. I like that it’s simple, clean and straight forward. It also shows a clear and close view of the details of my cards. πŸ™‚

_MG_2719 2a

Once I’m happy with all the shots I’ve taken, I’ll download them onto my hard disk and start to filter through all the images. I’ll pick out my best images that are clear and sharp and do some minor editing on Photoshop. I tweak the images a little using the curve and level adjustment layers, crop them if required and voila!

Here’s a complete layout of one side of my spread.

_MG_2727 2b

I do hope you find my tips useful and helps you take better photos of your Project Life.

I’ll be back soon again to share more of my pages in the coming days. πŸ™‚

  • pepperOctober 7, 2013 - 11:26 pm

    Thanks for the tips! i wish i have huge windows like yours ! I usually photography at my door step ! hehe!

  • Po prostu AsiaOctober 7, 2013 - 11:44 pm

    thank you!!
    very useful πŸ™‚

  • JanayOctober 8, 2013 - 12:08 am

    Thanks for sharing! I always wondered how you did it =)

  • DeirdreOctober 8, 2013 - 1:21 am

    Ask and ye shall receive!

    Thank you so much for this post. It seems so obvious now but I wouldn’t have thought of laying the cards on top of the pockets. Genius!

    Your PL photos also look so good because of the beautiful work you do on your full page layout! Thanks again!

  • MajaOctober 8, 2013 - 2:00 am

    Love this! Thanks for posting this! Your PL-spread is adorable! πŸ™‚

  • Jenny AOctober 8, 2013 - 8:29 pm

    Thanks so much for this! I always wondered how you got such amazing photos of your PL. I never would have thought to take the cards out of the pockets and take a picture. You are a genius πŸ™‚ Thanks for taking the time for a tutorial!

  • Patti Veeraplin McHughOctober 8, 2013 - 10:32 pm

    Wonderful post and thanks for the tips!

  • BirgitOctober 11, 2013 - 3:58 pm

    This post helps so much, thank you!

  • Emily JaneOctober 12, 2013 - 9:49 pm

    I love how it never even occurred to me to take the cards out of the pocket to photograph. I always tried to move around to get the least possible glare from the plastic cover sheets and it never worked ! Thanks for
    This <3

  • MyeOctober 13, 2013 - 8:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing these tips, Leena! I’m on the 7th floor with very minimal lighting and I’m surrounded by buildings (yes, our block is in the middle!) so it’s very challenging. I try the laundry area because that’s where the farthest building was and sometimes I get to take better pictures.

  • RossanaOctober 13, 2013 - 10:06 pm

    Great tips! Thanks leena!

  • palisaraOctober 14, 2013 - 12:26 pm

    Thanks for good tips!!

  • nicoleOctober 23, 2013 - 11:34 am

    This might seem like a silly question but, do you shoot your layouts without flash? Thanks so much for sharing your process!

  • FindingnanaOctober 24, 2013 - 12:27 am

    Hi Nicole,
    I always shoot my layouts without flash as I get enough natural light to get a good shot. πŸ™‚

  • Maggie AlvarezNovember 2, 2013 - 9:30 am

    OMG ….
    thank you so much for these great tips. I’ve been taking ok pictures for a long time but these tips will help me do a lot better…

    hugs all the way from Mexico,
    Mggie Alvarez

  • Julie {CalleLillyCafe}November 14, 2013 - 5:24 am

    how did I miss this post? Thx for sharing your secrets! Ha! I wish I could choose when I could take photos. I only get the good natural light in the am hours or else I’d have to photograph in my girls’ rooms! Love the idea of taking cards out of protector too! Hello?! Simple. Too bad I didn’t think of it though. Thx again Leena!

  • opsiteJanuary 23, 2014 - 6:02 pm

    Hello leena

    Thanks for all these advices

    I put a link of your article on a facebook group about project life

    thanks a lot

  • BarbaraJanuary 30, 2014 - 7:16 pm

    Thank you so much! One question though, your Instagram pics look just as good, do you usr these photos taken with the big camera for instagram as well? Greetings from Germany!

  • FindingnanaFebruary 3, 2014 - 8:27 pm

    Hi Barbara,
    I only use iPhone for my Instagram postings. It’s the most convenient and quickest way to post to IG.
    Using big camera is just too much of a hassle to transfer the images to my computer and then to my phone before I can post it on IG, you know what I mean? πŸ™‚ I only use my DSLR to take images for blog posting only.

  • Rose CiccarelliFebruary 26, 2014 - 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the tips, loved that I found u and all ur inspirational ideas here on Pinterest and I also requested u on IG. Thanks again

  • Sarah MartinaMarch 5, 2014 - 1:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing these awesome tips! Do you mind sharing what you shoot with? (Camera & lens)? I just love your style of photography!

  • FindingnanaMarch 5, 2014 - 10:27 pm

    Hi Sandra,
    I’m using Canon 7D and Canon 50mm f1.4 prime lens.

  • project_annaSeptember 17, 2015 - 11:12 pm

    Thanks for this tutorial! It was exactly what I needed. Now I just need to get myself something white to use as a background and I should be good to go. I’ve always had a hard time getting the focus right on my PL spreads, but I have a feeling that might be because of the plastic as well, I’ll try taking them out from now on.

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