How to Make Table-Top Photos

Table of Contents

I finished all my tasks and walked around my house thinking that I have nothing to photograph. I’m in lockdown right now and feeling agitated. I would like to go out and photograph my walks and enjoy the seascapes, the sunset, and all the beautiful dogs walking on the beach. I can’t, so I started to create little scenes at home. Scenarios are a fun way to express oneself. They are a way to create a visual diary or tell your story.

The window: Your Best Natural Studio Light

Backlighting provides a more exciting light in your scenes. If you photograph when the sun rays are coming towards the camera, you will get dramatic shadows and silhouettes. Photograph under a more flat light to see all the images adequately, edit with an App to enhance the ones that need more attention. Your window might get sun rays coming in at an angle, enhancing the texture of the objects.

table top window.jpg

The Window Sill

I create scenes by my window. I’m lucky to have a large space to place things by my window, and when I need more space I just use a cork pinning board as a table. If you don’t have a window sill, drag a table next to the window or photograph on the floor.

How to Create Your Table Top Studio

1) Look for unique things to use as a background. You will be shooting from above and sides. Your background can be a placemat, a piece of fabric, crumpled paper, or foil. Look for textured things.

2) Get boards to reflect or block light from your scene.

3) Small table or board to put your scenes on.

4) Masking tape

5) Foil will help you bounce light back into your scene

Choose the topic, the mood and, make a list of things that will go in your photo.

1) A cup of coffee or tea with a book and a plant.

2) Candles, fabric, books, and your hands.

3) Your camera next to books, a cup of tea, and a map.

4) Litlle personal objects that remind you of someone.

5) Do you sew? Scissors, thread, and fabric.

5) Your reading glasses, a book on your Ipad or kindle, and a cup of coffee.

The Photo Format

The mobile phone has the option to photograph in the square format and the rectangular one. If you want to post your photos on Facebook, use the rectangular shape. Instagram will allow you to choose the rectangular or the square shape. Stories will need to have a longer vertical rectangular format.

I suggest that you photograph using all the formats so that you can choose later. When you use different formats, you will also learn more about framing, and in time you will understand how to place your objects efficiently.






Set Time Aside for Your Photo Shoot and Start!

1) Gather all your props. Get extra things like ribbons, string, and anything you think might be useful or add interest. The idea is to have everything around you so that you can focus on creating your scenario.

2) Prepare the spot where you will photograph and add things slowly. You may only want three objects at first. Take a few photographs. Use different camera angles, add more items and substitute objects. Keep on photographing.

3) Consider where you place your objects. Diagonal lines are more interesting than having everything in a straight line in front of the camera.

6)Create shapes with your objects: Circles, triangles, and squares.

4) Change around the object’s positions.

Take a 15-minute break after 30 or 40 minutes of shooting.

Get a cup of coffee or tea. Sit down on your comfy chair and look at your images. Study them carefully and decide how you will set up the next scenes.

My Personal Tips

1) Use a mini tripod or a large one for some photos.

2) Photograph when you have sunlight coming in and with flat light.

3) As soon as you think you have finished, don’t stop. Challenge yourself.

4) If you create topics for each scenario, they will be easier to make.

5) Simple scenes work best. If you clutter your settings, your eye won’t know where to look, and the photograph won’t have a good focus.

6) Vary your camera angles a lot: From above, eye level, tilted, and below.

7) Photos are more interesting when they have a mood.

8) Create some intimate scenes. Add your hands or something that will indicate that you are there.

9) Color themes will help you create a mood, and the items will relate to each other in a fun and unique way.

10) Be playful.

My favorite App

Snapseed is my go-to App. You can do simple tweaks or go crazy and have tons of fun with all the different possibilities. Give your photo a vintage or grunge look. Add sunrays, blur areas, erase unwanted spots. The App is relatively easy to learn.

Get to know your phone camera because that also has many great editing options.

Organize your Photos

Phone Albums are an excellent place to save your photoshoots, and you can create a separate album to save the edited images.

Get a photo site to show off your very best images. I like Smugmug, but there are many great ones out there.

Discard all the images you will not use. I have to admit that this is the most challenging thing for me. For some reason, I feel the need to keep everything, and I have so much junk on my phone. I have started to discard the unwanted images, and if you get in the habit of doing that now, you will work more efficiently.


Links for you

More photo tips by 50andrising

Color and Photography


B & H Table Top Photo Tips

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

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