Pin Trader Club

How to photograph your Disney pins

I'm going to go through how I take pictures of my Disney pins. I'm writing this guide as I find it pretty frustrating when I'm in the market for pins and some of the pictures are very poorly taken. My setup costs are next to nothing and a disclaimer this is all trial and error, I do not have any photography training! I just find this works really well for me.

A Haunted Mansion pin I got at a recent pin event
A Haunted Mansion pin I got at a recent pin event

Equipment needed 

The camera that I use for taking my pin pictures is the iPhone X. I realise that this is a pretty good phone but there is no reason why you can't take pictures that are just as good using an older iPhone or an Android phone. I will show an example of a picture below of a pin I shot using an older Android phone (a Nexus 5 which was released in 2013).

My setup

I take my two pieces of printer paper and take a little sellotape and stick them together at the top and bottom. I do this just to make the paper thicker to stop light leaking through and to make it sturdier when I'm resting my pins on it. What you want to do is find a spot where you can tack your paper. Ideally this should be a bright spot, so try to take your pictures during daylight hours. If this is something you aren't able to do as you live in a more Northerly location or you are out during daylight hours you could use a lamp with a daylight bulb in it and set it quite close to where you're taking your pictures. A translucent lampshade will help to diffuse the light for you.

Two paper sheet tacked together
Two paper sheet tacked together

I typically tack my paper between the wall and a windowsill to create a bend, I used sellotape but Blu Tack is probably gentler on the paint! This bend allows the illusion of an infinite white background and also gives me something to help prop my pins up on. Try to prop your pins in a way that there is no light reflecting off them. You may find that it helps to increase or decrease the bend in the paper.
Paper tacked between windowsill and wall
Paper tacked between windowsill and wall

Camera settings

There are many apps available on the App Store which can help with taking pictures which allow you to manipulate the amount of light that your camera allows itself to be exposed to, these cost money and the built in app on your phone is enough to take perfectly good pictures.

When I take pictures I always help the camera to focus in on the picture by tapping the screen where the picture appears. You can increase/decrease the brightness of the white background by moving your finger up and down the screen. This allows your camera to take in more light and can significantly brighten your picture. Here's a YouTube video that shows how.
This shows the focus and brightness adjuster, which is activated by tapping and then dragging the sun symbol up and down. This is an image pre adjustment.
This shows the focus and brightness adjuster, which is activated by tapping and then dragging the sun symbol up and down. This is an image pre adjustment.

Taking the picture

When I'm taking my pictures I use one hand to hold the phone and the other to adjust settings and take the picture. The hand that I am using to hold the phone I will "anchor" against the windowsill, this means I won't get any shaking or blurriness in my pictures. It's almost like using your hand like a tripod!

Using my hand to anchor the phone
Using my hand to anchor the phone

I never use flash. I experimented with using flash before but found that pictures were overexposed (too bright) and I often had bits of light reflecting off the pin ruining the picture.

Don't worry about centering your pin. I focus on getting the picture right and then crop out extra background afterwards.

Editing the picture

Now you have your well focused pin picture, now to make it even better. This is very simple just using the filters that are built into your phone to pick the filter which brightens the white background even further and helps to enhance the colours. I like to use the built in iPhone "vivid" as I think it helps to make the colours look even brighter.

Dark pins vs light pins

If you have a pin that is mostly white it may help to have it on a dark background. This can look better as it increases the contrast.

Zero pin on a dark background. I just used the inside of a book for this background! No need to spend your precious pin pennies 😉
Zero pin on a dark background. I just used the inside of a book for this background! No need to spend your precious pin pennies 😉

Taking pictures for Instagram

White backgrounds are perfect for something like a pin database (a feature that we are going to be adding to Pin Trader Club in the future) or when selling/trading pins, basically for more informational purposes. When it comes to a platform like Instagram you may want to have something a little more fun. For this I end of laying my pins on a flat surface (my windowsill). It's a little more difficult as I have to take pictures of the pins leaning over them and sometimes I have problems getting pictures without reflections. I find it's a little easier if I take pictures on a cloudy but bright day.

I bought a packet of craft felt in multiple different colours that I use for Instagram pictures.When picking a colour as a background colour try to look for a colour that complements the character, i.e. green for Tiana, purple for Ursula, pink for Marie. Don't pick the main colour of the pin as it won't contrast very well. Pick a colour that is on the pin but in some of the smaller details, so say if there is a mostly red pin with a little bit of blue detail, go for a blue background.

Examples of the felts I use for Instagram shots
Examples of the felts I use for Instagram shots

Taking pictures of the backs of pins

**Disclaimer: Additional purchase required**

So you want to ensure the person that you're trading with that your pin is a genuine Disney Pin Trading pin and that it is a limited edition of 200? You may want to point them in the direction of Google to verify the pin or you could take some pictures of the back of the pin. Generally the stuff printed on the back of pins is tiny and unfortunately my iPhone just can't take a picture with that detail. I purchased a phone case from Amazon that has detachable lenses to up the power of my camera. There are a variety of lenses that you can purchase, you need to search for "macro lens" and whatever model your phone is. Many of these lenses just attach to your phone using a small clip or some come built into a phone case.


I hope this guide helps you when you're taking pictures of your pins. A good picture may mean that you have a higher success rate when making trades or sales. It's also more pleasant for us all to look at! If everyone were to take better quality pictures it would also help to identify scrappers more easily. 



Do you have any tips and tricks you use for taking great pictures of your pins? Please comment below and let me know!

This article was written by elaine on Wednesday 17 July 2019.

Have some thoughts on this article? Let us know!

Sign in to comment