How to photograph your art journal for sharing

One of the biggest questions we receive that’s not journaling related is how to take photos of the art journals for sharing on Instagram. The creative team is here sharing their secrets for success…


I use different programs for editing different things. On my windows pc, I edit all of my photos in Photoshop Elements. (But if you are looking for a free alternative, I’ve always found either PicMonkey or Pixlr to be good).

My #1 edit is just to boost the brightness. I do this by clicking the “set white point” dropper in levels, and then clicking on my white backdrop in the photo and it works magic.

On my phone, when editing photos for instagram, I usually just work directly in instagram by brightening up the photos, and decreasing the warmth just a teeny bit and boosting the saturation. To make sped up videos for instagram I use place my phone in this clamp and use the hyperlapse app, if I need to boost the brightness I use the app Chromic. To resize photos on my phone I use the “resize it” app.

The best thing you can really do though is to have great natural lighting when you take the photo. I have my desk right underneath a window, and mornings are perfect for photos!


I am currently taking 99% of my photos and videos with my phone (Samsung Galaxy Note 2), since I don’t have my professional camera with me. I am alright with it. I’ve found the things which work, and which don’t.

My set-up is pretty simple: I have a window and the table is right under it. I use a big white (sometimes, black) piece of paper as my background and usually take photos from straight above. If I need both my hands to be in the photo, I use a clamp that I purchased off of AliExpress for $3. I also mount my phone/camera on it when I am filming my videos. It is a little wobbly, but if you don’t touch it, it stays motionless pretty well.

My photo editing process is simple – I edit them on my phone and use only 2 programs to do that: VSCO and Snapseed. Both these programs are free to download. In VSCO I edit the colors – these days my preferred presets are A6 (it’s free) and E1 (you have to purchase it). After editing colors, I go to Snapseed and make some further edits: I whiten the whites, selectively brighten/desaturate certain colors/parts of the image, use brushes. I always make the final touches in Instagram itself – straighten, brighten, add details, darken/lighten the darks/whites. It may seem like a lot to some, but I really enjoy working with photos, so it’ s a pleasure for me. 🙂

I haven’t found a good video editing app for Android yet, so I am open for suggestions. 😉 As for computer software, I use Sony Vegas Pro. I don’t think you should invest in such  program if you don’t need to edit your videos professionally. Otherwise, I really recommend it!


I basically call this the “Caylee-setup” because she was the one who recommended the monopod and clamp to me. I usually film with my DSLR but I also use my Iphone sometimes. As I’m not that tech-savvy I don’t edit my videos other than rotating/trimming, that’s why natural light is very important for me.

I use cheap white cardstock in A4 for my background, this way I can film everywhere in the apartment where I have a window. For an example I make all my flip throughs on the bed. The light from the window is good and with the cardstock, which is thick, it lays flat, plus it’s comfy! While tutorials and other things that need my materials are filmed in the living room. We have a black table but with the white cardstock I can transform every space into a suitable background.

My photographs for Instagram are mostly taken with my iPhone on my art desk. When I need better quality I use my camera (like for Get Messy blog posts) and those, too, always, always in natural light.  I can’t stress enough about natural light, for me it stands and falls with it. The edits I make are on Instagram itself (contrast, saturation, etc). In case I have to do them on my computer I use a free program called Photoscape.


At the end of 2016, I specifically bought an iPhone 7 plus to use for my work on the creative team. I knew I would be taking video and wanted the photo taking options that the 7 plus offered with the extra camera lens. I needed a new phone since my iPhone 5 was slower than Christmas and I was fortunate enough to make enough money selling art in 2016 that I was able to make a bit of a splurge purchase.
I tried several tripod setup/combos but none of them worked because the weight of my shiny new phone caused them all to tip over. Katie and I talked about the bizarre lengths we were going to in attempting to make a tripod setup work and so we decided we’d try a clamp-on, flexible arm phone holder. I bought this one.

I clamp it to the top of my blinds above my worktable so my shots are straight down onto what I am working on. My worktable is in front of a giant north-facing window. I try to take my photos and videos midday when the sun is strongest. Even still because my window is north facing, I have to do some editing to remove the slightly blue cast that many of my photos have. (Looking at the photo of my clamp, it occurs to me suddenly that my photos may also be sorta blue because the walls in here are blue.)

I bought a yellow piece of mat board from the frame department of Hobby Lobby and use it to take photos on. Katie told me she painted the back of hers a different color so she had 2 colors to choose from. I stole that marvelous idea and painted the back of mine pink. While I often take photos on both colors, for some reason the yellow always looks better.
I use the editor built into my photos app or Instagram to edit still shots. For video editing I usually use iMovie on my phone. If I’m doing a longer video, I’ll use Dropbox to sync the files between my phone and computer and open the file in iMovie on my Mac so I can do more extensive video editing and then audio editing too. (My husband has a ton of video editing experience so I usually beg him to do it for me since he can do in about 10-15 minutes what might take me several hours to do.)

I have a Facebook page for just my art where I post videos sometimes and from there, I post them to my webpage or here to the Get Messy site.