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Photography and Video Setup

UPDATE JUNE 27, 2013:

I ended up purchasing the Nikon D3200. I love, love, love it!! It’s so much faster and nicer than my D80. I also (just today!) purchased the Nikkor 40mm macro lens. This lens allows you to take very close-up shots. I’ll be practicing with my new lens on future posts. It’s so exciting to get new electronics!!


Happy Friday All!

I get questions all the time about how I take my photos and videos. So, finally, here goes…

First, the still photos. I have a Nikon D80, but not for long. Last week, I was walking through the kitchen on my way upstairs to my craft room and the shoulder strap got hooked onto a cabinet knob and it went flying out of my hand and hit the floor pretty hard. It still takes good photos, but the on/off button is jammed and cracked. And now it’s a little flakey on the manual focus.

I think it’s about time to upgrade anyway (this camera is about 5 years old), so I’m researching new cameras. I may actually go out and get one tomorrow! When I buy a new one, I will update this post. As of today, all the photos on my blog have been taken with this Nikon D80 and a 18-200mm lens. Here’s how I setup the photoshoot (pardon the background mess!):

Photo setup

A few things to notice:

  • I prop a coordinating background paper against my Stampin’ Up! Color Caddy.
  • I place a piece of 12×12 white paper under the top of a plastic 12×12 scrapbook storage case (similar to this). I place the card on top of this plastic piece, which creates a little bit of a reflection.
  • I use an OttLite High Definition Craft Plus 24W Floor Lamp as my only source of light.
  • If I’m taking the photos during the day, I will shut all the blinds.
  • I do NOT use a flash.

After I take the photo, I usually do a “quick auto-fix” on it in PhotoShop Elements, which will brighten it up a bit. I crop it and add my logo to the bottom right corner with the text tool in PhotoShop Elements. Voila!

Second, the videos. I use a Canon Vixia HF M40. Honestly, it’s way better quality than I need for YouTube. However, I also use it as my home video recorder, so I want the extra quality for that. When I take card videos, I put the quality on the lowest setting, then I further reduce the quality in Adobe Premiere Elements so it’s easier to edit. Here’s how I setup the photoshoot:

Video Setup

This is where the professionalism kind of breaks down, can you tell? There is a kid table (yes, the one that my kids have outgrown) on top of my craft table. To prop up the camera further, I use an empty box. The camera is attached to a uni-pod, which I then lay across the box and point downward onto my work table. I lay a thick piece of fabric on top of the uni-pod to keep it from rolling around too much. It’s almost kind of funny how it’s just a makeshift assembly of whatever seems to work that I have laying around!! But seriously, I use this same exact setup every week and it works for me. 🙂

I put my Ott-Lite to the left of my table to provide extra light, but I don’t really point it directly onto the work surface. I try to do the videos in the late afternoon, which seems to be when the light is best coming into the room from the windows. Here is a close-up of the camera on the box:

Video Setup

As you can see, I flip the screen towards me so that I can make sure my work is always in the center of view. And if you think about it, I am recording the video upside-down. So, I have to flip it both horizontally and vertically in my editor, Adobe Premiere Elements. I also use this software to edit out delays, speed up boring parts, narrate, and add music. Phew!

Finally, here is a photo of the video camera setup from above:

Video Setup

In the bottom right of the photo, you can see a little portion of the post-it note I keep next to me with the high level steps for creating the card. Since I almost always create the card off-camera first, I display it right next to the post-it (you can see this better in the first picture). I layout all my supplies in order from left to right in a circle. That way, I don’t have to search everywhere for the next stamp or tool – it’s next in line!

Anyway, hope this answers some questions about what I do every week behind the scenes! Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂



  1. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Lori Fodor

    I love it….hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Your videos are so professional and pleasant to watch I would never have guessed this is how you do it. I so look forward to Wednesday’s videos. It starts out my day.
    You are one of my favorites so keep up the great work and creativity. How about doing a video on your studio? I love looking at studio and getting storage ideas. I’m in the process right now of redoing mine. Wow, it’s a lot of work. Thanks, Lori

  2. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Barbara Lasky

    You are a pro in my book. Your cards, as well as your photos and videos are great. I post some cards on Pinterest so I was interested in your still photography. Looking forward to trying some of your tricks.

  3. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 11:28 am


    Your videos are some of the most professional style videos I’ve seen out there. Often better than certain companies. I particularly appreciate how you speed up the slow sections, gaps, etc.!!! Thanks for sharing your setup, especially how you lay out your items in advance, while I do this with cooking I didn’t think to with my cards.

  4. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 11:41 am


    Thank you Thank you Thank you. I am trying to get better at photographing my cards. I have video making on my bucket list. You made my day today!

  5. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Maureen J.

    Great photo tutorial. It is fun to get a glimpse behind the magic curtain!

  6. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 11:49 am


    i love this behind-the-scenes look! thanks for sharing – maybe i’ll be brave enough to make a video one day. so far i only feel knowledgeable enough to share my organizational ideas!

  7. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 11:56 am


    i love this! i’ve often wondered how you made the videos – i LOVE that you speed up and narrate over the video instead of trying to talk while you’re creating the card. so many youtub-ers try to create while talking and it’s very distracting! i don’t think i could ‘do’ and ‘talk’ at the same time either. maybe i’ll get brave enough to try my own video one day! (although right now i only feel knowledgeable enough to share my organizational ideas!)

  8. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Karen S

    Thanks for the glimpse behind the scenes. Now I feel more at home about my own set-up! 🙂 Just goes to show that there’s more than one way to get a great end-product! You’re lucky to have a great video camera, too. I’m working on that! I have a lovely Olympus camera that takes great still shots, but when I do super-macro length video functions with it to show card making, the focus comes and goes. I’m dragging out my old Sony mini-DV camcorder and trying to figure out the camera upload to computer after a number of years. It doesn’t take a long time for equipment to become “old.”

  9. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 1:23 pm


    That was fun Darlene! Thanks for the behind the scenes look at what you do each week. It really is a lot of work…but we so appreciate it – your videos are wonderful. Sometimes when my life gets crazy and I forget that it is Wednesday, I find your email in my inbox and I am so excited!!

  10. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 1:24 pm


    It looks like a bit of work to get this setup, but I sure appreciate your efforts – your videos are helpful, your cards are beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to do it, and also to share your behind the scenes, which is interesting as well. Have a wonderful weekend…:)

  11. wrote on June 21st, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Holly Saveur

    Loved to see this…. how you make photo’s of your cards and the video’s such a great view behind the scenes!

  12. wrote on June 22nd, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Meli Isen

    love the make shift video “studio”…love your cards!!!

  13. wrote on June 23rd, 2013 at 6:36 am


    Thank you for taking the time to show us how you create your amazing videos and pictures. I am looking forward each week to Wednesday to see what you come up next. You are a pro in my book!! I love how you work with what you have on hand and your results are still so stunning. Thank you!!

  14. wrote on June 23rd, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Robin in WA

    I am so thankful that you do this for us each week. What a lot of work. I love your videos and your cards! Thank you!!

  15. wrote on June 24th, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Laura Strack

    Thank you for sharing, Darlene. Now, we need to know more about Photoshop. Everyone talks about what a great photo editor it is and how easy it is to use. Are here different types of photo shop that we can purchase? I’m a total rookie, as you can see from my question 🙂

    • wrote on June 25th, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Darlene DeVries

      Laura, yes, there are different versions of Photoshop. The full version is for graphic artists and people who are serious about digital media (about $700). I use the “lighter” version called Photoshop Elements. It’s only $70, way cheaper in comparison!! Elements is perfect for cropping and editting photos, digital scrapbooking, and whatever other small graphic projects I have going on (i.e. website graphics, stuff for my kids’ school projects, etc.). I have created some great scrapbook pages with it, which I just send off to Costco for printing. Anyway, I’ve been very happy with Elements and recommend it. 🙂

  16. wrote on June 26th, 2013 at 2:52 pm


    Thanks for all the “behind the scenes” info. I create awesome cards, but struggle getting the lighting right to show it off! 🙂

  17. wrote on June 27th, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Mary H.

    Thanks for doing this tutorial on how you photograph & do your videos. Most helpful. I’ll be trying some of the photo techniques, as I’m definitely photo challenged. Just got a new Nikon Coolpix 520, which has more manual features than the old Coolpix 9. None of which I know how to use! But I use Photoshop Elements to clean up, and that helps. Would love to get into the video part of this, but not just yet. Enjoyed the post immensely, and thanks for taking time to produce it.

  18. wrote on July 16th, 2013 at 11:00 am


    I just discovered you through your YouTube Copic Basics video and am now enjoying a browse through your blog.

    Thanks so much for the information on taking photos. I’m going to give this a go. I have found several OttLite lamps available online but am not sure which wattage to use. Would you please let me know the wattage of your lamp? Thanks so much!!

  19. wrote on July 16th, 2013 at 3:19 pm


    Back again! I scrolled down on the OttLite link you provided and found the wattage there. I haven’t been able to find the same lamp online from Canada – but I’ll keep looking! Thanks again for all your useful tips and tutorials. I’ve learned a lot today! Plus, your work is gorgeous!!

  20. wrote on August 24th, 2013 at 12:30 pm


    First of all, I want to say, I just discovered you! I love your website, blog, tips and tricks, techniques, style but most of all….I love your videos!

    I usually get so bored watching people cut paper, glue, look for things, talk to their pets, children and yes, even answer the phone. I LOVE how you tape, speed over the boring parts and THEN describe the high level things you are trying to teach us. If that was not enough, you then take the time to type out the high level points, and hyperlink all the parts and pieces, even examples of other projects.

    Thank you for posting this. I have always wondered how folks created video. You have answered all those questions!

    AWESOME job!!!!!

  21. wrote on January 15th, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Sara T.

    Thanks for sharing this link in the comment’s for today’s card, Darlene! I recently got a Canon Rebel T3 camera and need to mess around to see what will work best. I don’t have a macro lens, but I think I have a macro setting. I do have an Ott light and my craft room has no windows, so I’ve got that working for me LOL I will hopefully be able to get a great setup soon enough and see what I can come up with. I don’t have Photoshop though, so it might be trickier to figure that part out. Great tips, thanks!

  22. wrote on January 7th, 2015 at 8:31 am


    Being a semi-professional nature photographer, I use my new iphone 6+. I find the camera and lens to be superior especially for posting on the internet. There are many photography apps which do the same as Photoshop/Elements to quickly edit your photos in post processing.

  23. wrote on April 24th, 2015 at 8:10 pm


    Darlene, I KNOW you were my first go-to person on advice for this when I got started. I’ve got some form of OCD and knew that I didn’t want to do anything unless I can do it well – and you were my prime example of well-done videos! It doesn’t matter the set up or how you jimmy-rig things to work – you do it all so well and truly are an inspiration to me!

    • wrote on April 26th, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Thank you Caly!! 🙂

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