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My Favorite Cheap Photography Tool

One of my constant refrains around here when it comes to knitting photography is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money on gear to take good photos of your knitting. I am here to really drive that home today. My favorite photography tool is cheap as heck.

In fact, it’ll only run you about $20. Ready? Are you sure? Really ready? Here it is.

It’s a folding piece of foam board.

A large, white, folding foam board sits on top of a white marble countertop. In front of it is a flatlay of various pastel knit items and paper ephemera.

You know, the ones you use for elementary school science fair presentations. I know, I know, it sounds weird, but hear me out. This thing serves two important functions.

Foamboard Blocks Unwanted Light Problems

Remember how I mentioned that I get weird light reflections from the fence in my backyard? The light from that fence is always kind of orangey, and it sends a strange cast over my pictures. When I set up the foam board, it blocks that weirdly reflected light, and I only get the unaffected light from the other window.

Foamboard Reflects Light in Useful Ways

Often times, when I’m shooting in the early morning or the late afternoon, the light is coming into the window at a low angle. This can lead to some really harsh highlights and shadows.

A top-down image of pastel knit items - a gray hat, a light blue hat, and pink socks - surrounded by paper ephemera and white roses on top of a white marble countertop.

If I set up the foam board so it’s directly opposite where the light enters the room, the white surface will bounce that light back onto my knitting. This lightens the shadows and softens the highlights. Everything is just a little smoother looking.

That’s helpful when photographing knitwear, because it makes the stitches appear more even and easily visible. Remember, your goal in photographing your knitting projects is to show off the actual knitting. That’s hard to do when the stitches are buried in shadows and blown out in highlights.

A Good Photography Tool Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

I’ve said this elsewhere before, but you don’t need top-of-the-line gear to take good photos of your knitting. I think there’s often a misconception that all photographer tools are super expensive and really technical. That misconception drives off a lot of people who just need a few tricks for success.

There are some knitters and designers who use a DSLR for every photo, and they have a complicated setup with stands and lights and counterweights. That’s fine, but it’s not necessary.

A close-up on the toes of some pink, handknit socks, which are laid out on top of a light blue handknit hat and a gray handknit hat. In the foreground are some ornate scissors and a silver fountain pen.

I took these pictures with my phone. I’ve done a little editing in Lightroom, too, but the camera gear itself was pretty basic. The photography tools I prefer to use are simple, lightweight, portable, and inexpensive.

If you want to buy your own, here’s a link to the exact board I use. (That’s an affiliate link, which means if you choose to buy something through those links, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will always identify affiliate links for you. Thanks for supporting my work!)

In case you’re curious, here are links to the patterns featured in these photos:

1. The Madeleine Hat DK

2. The Snuggery Hat

3. The Pyrifera Socks

So there you have it. Twenty bucks on a piece of foam board that you can pick up and take pretty much anywhere, and you can instantly improve your photos. I’d love to see the changes you’ve been able to work in your photos using this trick, too.


Monday 8th of August 2022

I constantly advise my students to take better photos of their knits. Phone cameras are excellent and this foam board seems like an excellent idea for the novice or typical knitter and It's great for lots of other items too. I've shared your blog post with some of my knitters and hope they will take your valuable advice! thanks again.

Lauren Rad

Monday 8th of August 2022

It's amazing what just a few small changes can do for a knitting photo! It can be the difference between one that shows off the knits beautifully and one that totally obscures the details. I'm glad you're working with them on photography skills, too.

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