Live Photo Shoot!

This is my outline so I don't forget anything. When the video is complete I'll add it to the page and this should make better sense.

In the meantime, feel free to follow along. If I say some words that you think are related to the camera and you're not sure what they mean, check out this blog post where I list a few essential photography terms.

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We experienced some technical difficulties with recording at the show so we will not be posting a video. Bummer, I know. Sorry.

The Lightbox

A lot of options ranging from just a plain white cardboard to super fancy light tables.

Refer to this blog post for a few other options.

Cameras & Tripods

The camera kinda doesn't matter. You can take nice photos with just about any camera these days. However, there are some nice features to look for such as:

  • blinkies
  • custom white balance
  • macro lens
  • nice big f/stop

Tripods are really handy to speed up the workflow. Ideally, your shots are all pretty much the same for your sales platform. When you're zooming in super close, you don't wanna rely on your steady hand if you don't need to.


The biggest problem I see is over exposure. Folks are buying the light boxes and got all these lights and then the pen hardware is getting blown out. What does that mean? That means there's zero detail in those areas; you literally broke the pixels. And that's not good because now the potential customer can't see all the detail in the pen hardware that you so carefully chose to pair with the beautiful blank you turned.

This is where the blinkies are super helpful! As is the ability to manually set your exposure (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. )

Depth of Field

Basically, this means "what is the camera focusing on and what's in focus?"
So many times, I see pictures online where the pen stand is in focus and not the pen. That is because by default the cameras choose to focus on the closest thing it sees. Ideally, you want a camera that will let you select the focal point. iPhone does this. This DSLR does this. Many cameras do this, it's mostly a matter of knowing that you need to help the camera out.

White Balance

This can be a technical topic but for our sake today, it means we need to help the camera know what is white. If you are using a light box and you are in a dark room so the only light you have is coming from your lights, then it'll be easier. If you're in your shop with a window and shop lights and the camera flash then it's gonna be more difficult for the camera to figure out what you want.

Check out this blog post for a more in-depth explanation.

Shot list

This whole process of photographing you pens can take time. Having a shot list in mind will help speed up your process. If you make a mark on the cardstock so that you know exactly where to lay your pen, then you can get the same shot for each pen pretty quickly and that will help speed up your post production too.


  • Something sticky to keep your pen in place. I like Silly Putty.
  • A pen stand that is not distracting. Read this blog post where I show you how to "etch" a logo into an acrylic stand.
  • Some different bases. I have a nice cutting board that I use a lot. I have a few marble tiles. I have some reflective black & white plastic.
  • Lint brush to remove specs from the background
  • Reflector


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