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Miniature Photography

As a keen photographer I’ve found real enjoyment in combining that hobby with my current passion of Miniature Painting. So here’s how I photograph miniatures.

Follow me on Instagram @justmakesstuff 

  • Understanding Exposure – Mastering your camera’s settings and manual controls
  • Setting up your photo – Backdrop and Lighting tips to get better photos
  • Getting creative – Telling stories with your photography
  • Editing and sharing – Even great photos can need some final touches

Understanding Exposure

Exposure relies on the relationship between these 3 settings.

Light sensitivity of the sensor

Size of the lens opening

Shutter Speed
Time of exposure

Changing any one of these, means another must also change one setting up or down to keep balance.


For miniature photography you should use a low ISO setting.

Higher ISO settings will let you shoot in low light, or without a tripod, but can cause visible “noise” in the image.


The size of the aperture affects the depth of field (how much of an image can be in focus).

For mini photography you tend to want a high aperture f/11-f/22 (small opening).

Shutter Speed

The time that the camera exposes the photograph for is a simple control over how much light is allowed in.

For mini photography a longer shutter speed is often best. 

This balances out the High Aperture and Low ISO.

For this reason you might want to invest in a simple tripod.

Most camera apps (look for Pro Mode) or modern cameras allow you adjust Exposure Compensation (EV).

For black backdrops, try putting it down, and for light backdrops, try increasing it.

Setting up your Photo

  1. Use a simple black or white or textured backdrop and clip in place.
    A lightbox isn’t necessary.
  2. Place the mini a good distance away from the backdrop vertical.
  3. Make sure you can even and ideally soft / diffused light from above.
    Tissue paper can help achieve this.
  4. Bring the camera and lamp down low to the mini and bounce light off the ground up onto the mini to bring out the detail.

Getting Creative


“A small, pleasing picture or view.

An evocative, description, account, episode. A single image that communicates the mood and atmosphere of an event or moment. Dedicated to scaled models and miniatures”

Building a Vignette

Creating in-world scenes and bringing your mini to life can be achieved with 3 simple additions.

  1. A textured display board
  2. Scenic backdrops (basic A4 colour inkjet prints will do)
  3. Terrain pieces and scatter terrain

Some examples of shots using the same lighting and changing world details.

Editing and Sharing

I edit in Photoshop Express on my mobile (free to use). Android / iOS

  1. Use the Wand to auto-fix (often worth a try).
  2. Crop to the size / aspect ratio you want.
  3. Apply a dark or light vignette (under corrections) to help boost the backdrop.
  4. Tweak exposure, highlights or saturation (under corrections) as required.

Some examples of the changes made by a quick edit.