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Photography/Capturing art and background changing


Hi Steve, First off I want to thank you for being an expert on this site.. I think its absolutely amazing that people like yourself dedicate your free time to helping people like me who just cant find answers to questions. I just found this site yesterday and I am truly in awe of people's passion for their knowledge and their willingness to share it.

Recently I've started to sell some of my art, including furniture online but have been limited (self-inflicted) to using Craigslist for a number of reasons. One of those being my limited understanding of how to photograph the pieces correctly. I have a "general" sense of angles but in terms of backdrops and especially digital manipulation. Obviously I want to keep it as real as possible but I'm wondering if you have any advice as to how to take a picture of something like a chair and replace the background? I want to create a more professional portfolio and I've seen many out there where products look like they have been inserted into a digitally neutral environment. ANY advice would really help me out.

I've dabbled in Photoshop and I know (or at least I think I know) in order to do it there you have to "black out" the background and then can insert it into a new background. My problem with that is with that actual process as silly as that sounds. I don't understand how to single out the item completely without leaving out any details. I'm completely confused now and need some help.

Again, thank you SOO much for everything you do and taking so much of your VALUABLE time to help people like me!!

Thank you for you kind words but I can't always give people good answers to their questions.
That's the case with your inquiry. I do not even know where to start.
What is up with replacing backgrounds? How does this fit in with keeping it real?

Furniture is hard to shoot because it is big and you need a large studio space to do them right. Without a big space, you've got to use you creativity to produce good photos. Forget the Photoshop it will only make things worse and totally unreal.

One answer is to get yourself an empty room, preferably with white walls (or paint it white) and get a few CFL lights and take pictures.
Another answer is to the furniture in actual rooms from which every possible piece of dirt and distraction has been removed. Get a couple of lights and take sharp well exposed pictures.

Use your eyes and intelligence, that will serve you best



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Steve Meltzer


I am a professional photographer and I've been shooting for newspapers, magazines, commercial clients and artists for over 30 years. I have shot stock photography for dozens of years and in 1977 created West Stock (Seattle, WA) which was one of the first to produce stock photo CDs and later one of the first to establish an online stock photo slaes site. I have a new book on digital photography "PHOTOGRAPHING ARTS, CRAFTS AND COLLECTIBLES (Lark Books, 2007)which is available at, and in bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. I have another book, CAPTURE THE LIGHT which will be puiblished in November, 2008. I write 20-30 feature articles and columns for regional and national publications a year. My education includes studying with photographers like Cornell Capa, Duane Michels and Oliver Gagliani (from the Ansel Adams Center.)

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