Simplified Hat Photography

Most of my shots are done professionally in a studio by Michael G. Stewart, but those of you at home can get good looking results with a minimum of cost or effort.
Here’s how.

01: A hat stand of some description is important for photographing your hat while maintaining the shape of its brim. This purpose made one cost $5. The backdrop is a sheet of 18″x24″ paper from an art store.
02: To minimize shadows, shoot outdoors on an overcast day, or at the very least in shadow. Make sure what you’re shooting does not hang over the edge of the white.
03: In photoshop (or GIMP, it’s free), white balance to the lightest point of the white backdrop.
04: Use a brush tool to knock out all the non-white sections of the photo.
05: Select the shadows and white balance that selection separately to eliminate them.
06: Crop.
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Before and After

I do a lot of my buying, as well as my selling through eBay. Unfortunately, what I get isn’t always what I’m expecting. This hat for instance, dated from the 1920s or early 1930s, but it had been packed in a flat priority mail box- one of the one that’s about three inches tall. Problem is, a hat like this is about 6 inches tall, and while all hats are crushable, the un-crushable part of things is where most struggle. A bit of steam and a bit of water, though, and it’s amazing the difference. Not quite perfect- that would require a full set of hatters blocks, but a world better.
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This photo illustrates the difference between buying from most sellers and from vintage-haberdashers. This is the same hat, as I bought it, and as I sold it. I did a bit of minor cleaning and shaping, but mostly its the photography. I buy a lot of hats that are kind of a pig in a poke. One or two pictures, no real clear description. Some times they work out. Some times they don’t- but that’s the nature of the game. When you buy from me, you know what you’re getting. Clear pictures with accurate color, and all possible details documented. Size, crown height, brim width, ribbon width, all measured.
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